Peace has broken out in the small Bosnian town of Tesanj on the border of Serbia. But the old ways still persist. Velija (Senad Basic) is a criminal wheeler dealer who has many profitable income streams, including white slavery, cigarettes, liquor, petro, and immigrants. His right-hand man is Pic (Aleksandar Seksan), and they are both in cahoots with Mugdim (Izudin Bajrvic), the chief of police, who makes sure his men at the border look the other way when things are smuggled into the country. Although the civil war is over, there are still large reserves of hatred on both sides.

Images of affluence flash in the minds of the community leaders when they are told by a team of international representatives that Tesanj has been chosen to host a visit by Bill Clinton, President of the United States, who will become a "godfather" of the town. But in order to accept this great honor, everyone must pitch in over a seven-day period to make the place a paragon of pride, respectability, decency, patriotism, and ethnic solidarity. Easier said than done given the entrenched traditions of crime, political corruption, and ethnic hatred. The community begins to remake itself forming a band, making flags, turning a group of whores into go-go dancers, refurbishing a church, getting rid of incriminating files at the mayor's office, and training a children's choir to sing "House of the Rising Sun" for the U.S. President.

Writer and director Pjer Zalica has made a clever political drama that shows how difficult it is for people to change their old ways in order to accommodate themselves to a brave new world of international co-operation. Faruk (Enis Beslagic) is a mild-mannered fireman whose girlfriend's legs were blown off by a landmine while working behind her house. He and his friend Hamdo (Admir Glamocak) are told that they must team up with two Serbian firemen to demonstrate the new spirit of brotherhood in the town. This proves to be a difficult assignment given past enmities and a deep history of revenge in the region. While talking to each other, the men realize that that they have all gone through the anguish of losing brothers in the war, and they at least have this common ground to build upon. Faruk's father Zaim (Bogdan Diklic) lost his other son, Adnan (Feda Stukan), and has not been able to pull himself together. Many in the town are worried that this deranged former chief of police will cause some untidy commotion during Clinton's visit. The film's surprising finale has some magical moments and puts an interesting and very contemporary cap on a fascinating political drama.

Where and When?

Screened at the New Directors/New Films Festival, March/April 2004, New York City