Angelina Jolie has questioned Bosnia's decision to withdraw her film permit, saying Friday it was based on false rumors that her movie will be a love story about a Bosniak woman and a Serb man who raped her during the country's war.
But the actress, and two members of her film crew in Sarajevo, declined to say what the plot of her directorial debut will be, and that could make it difficult to allay the concerns of the movie's main opponents: Bosnia's wartime rape victims.
Jolie said in a written statement Friday that it will be a shame if "unfair pressure based on wrong information" prevents her crew from shooting her film in Bosnia." It's working title is "Untitled Love Story."
She offered to meet with wartime rape victims in Bosnia and to clarify misunderstandings that led Sarajevo's culture minister, Gavrilo Grahovac, to deny the permit.
"My hope is that people will hold judgment until they have seen the film," Jolie said.
The movie was supposed to be shot partly in Bosnia in November, but Grahovac revoked the permit this week under pressure from the Association of Women, Victims of War, which represents the several thousand mainly Muslim Bosniak women who were raped during Bosnia's 1992-95 war.
Grahovac was not available for comment Friday.
Sarajevan Fedja Stukan, who plans to act in the movie, defended Jolie's project, telling Bosnian media that "we are not making a movie about a crazy woman falling in love with her rapist. We are not sick and perverted."
Jolie's Sarajevo producer, Edin Sarkic, told The Associated Press on Friday that the rumor about the rape victim falling in love with a rapist is "insane." But he also said his contract with Jolie prevents him from disclosing details about the script.
Instead, Sarkic said, he resubmitted the movie permit application to Grahovac on Wednesday, along with a full script, and expects the minister to grant a new permit.
Bakira Hasecic, the leader of the Association of Women, Victims of War, told the AP that she has not read the script, but said: "From what I heard, it is about a victim in a rape camp falling in love with her rapist, and that's not only impossible but the idea is insulting."
She said, "We, the victims, do not want to be portrayed that way and we complained."
In the immediate aftermath of the war, the issue of mass rape of women during the conflict was a taboo topic in Bosnia. But the victims then came forward and formed the association that fights for their rights in the courts and defends their dignity in public. The lobby has grown so strong that rarely any official in Bosnia dares to confront it.
In her statement, Jolie said: "The choice to make a film about this area and set in this time in history was also to remind people of what happened not so long ago and to give attention to the survivors of the war."
The actress said she has great respect for the work of the Association of Women, Victims of War and would "like the opportunity to speak with them to personally clear up any misunderstandings about this project."
(This version corrects title of movie.)