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Miss Sarajevo
8 Sep


Bill Carter’s Miss Sarajevo is a startling portrait of the capital of Bosnia when it was under siege. Equipped with a simple hand-held camera Carter captured the story of young people stuck in Sarajevo during the siege from 1992 to 1996. When he met up with U2 on the ZOO TV Tour in 1993 a plan came together to show young people in the rest of Europe what life was like in a besieged city on their continent. Four years later, with the siege over, U2 took the POPMART Tour to Sarajevo

I think everyone has already heard the phrase “Miss Sarajevo”. Miss Sarajevo is the only single from the 1995 album “Original Soundtracks 1” by U2 and Brian Eno, under the pseudonym “Passengers”. Luciano Pavarotti makes a guest vocal appearance, singing the opera solo. American journalist Bill Carter suggested to Bono an idea – to film a documentary based on Sarajevo’s underground resistance movement. Not only did Bono produced the film, he also provided the funds needed to support the project.

Bono said: ,,The camera follows the organizers through the tunnels and cellars of the city, giving a unique insight into life during a modern war, where civilians are the targets. The film Miss Sarajevo captures the dark humor of the besieged Sarajevans, their stubborn refusal to be demoralized and suggests that surrealism and Dadaism are the appropriate responses to fanaticism.”

Bono went on to say that he felt that these lyrics reflected what the people of Sarajevo were feeling at the time. Original Soundtracks 1 is an album of songs based mostly on non-existent films; however, “Miss Sarajevo” is one of four tracks from the album that are based on real films. The film Miss Sarajevo is a documentary by Bill Carter about a beauty pageant held in the midst of war-torn Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The winner was a 17-year-old blonde named Inela Nogić. Carter travelled to Sarajevo in the winter of 1993 to offer humanitarian aid and quickly found himself in the heart of the conflict. He lived for six months in a burnt-out office building, subsisting on baby food and whatever water he could find in the rivers and sewers and delivering food and medicine to those in need.

“The idea was simple, instead of doing what the news does, which is entertain you, I wanted to do something that the news rarely does, make a person care about the issue…I wanted young people in Europe to see the people in the war, I didn’t want them to see politicians or religious leaders or military spokesmen.”, Bill Carter.

The song protests the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, criticizing the international community for its inability to stop the war or help those affected by it. It was the only single released from the album. Its video combines clips from Bill Carter’s documentary with footage from the Passengers’ first performance of the song at the 1995 “Pavarotti and Friends” concert in Modena, Italy. Clips from the documentary contain striking imagery, such as a shot of beauty pageant contestants holding up a banner with the words “DON’T LET THEM KILL US,” as seen on the single’s artwork. Carter’s Sarajevo documentary was one of two Dreamchaser nominees for the 1995 International Monitor Awards, in Washington, D.C. Carter would ultimately prevail over a Chernobyl documentary Black Wind, White Land, made by fellow nominee and Bono’s wife, Ali Hewson.

“Miss Sarajevo” was first performed 12 September 1995 at the annual Pavarotti And Friends concert in Modena, Italy. Bono, The Edge and Brian Eno joined Pavarotti on stage, with a complete orchestra, to premier the new Original Soundtracks 1 future single. All three dressed in black suits and white shirt, also this was one of the very few occasions where The Edge performed without his famous headgear. Anna Coleman, wife of Marc Coleman who works closely with the band, wrote the Italian libretto for the track. Roughly translated by Bono, the lyrics read:

“You say that like a river finds its way to the sea/ You will find your way back to me/ You say that you will find a way/ But love I’m not a praying man/ And in love I can’t wait any more.”, by Bono