Based on a true story of the ethnic conflict that tore apart the former
Yugoslavia and started a civil war between 1992 and 1995. Serbian Slavko
(Perez) and Croat Vlado (Roache), whose wife Maida (William) is a Muslim,
are childhood friends and former teammates on the Yugoslavian
target-shooting team. Slavko is drafted into the Serbian army and urges his
friend to flee Sarajevo. Instead, Vlado and his family are trapped in the
city and Vlado is forced to take up his rifle in defense against deadly
Serbian snipers. Which leads him to a final confrontation with Slavko.
"It's a story about intimacy and civility under fire, an account of the destruction
of friendship, the fragmentation of families, the breakdown of years of urban amity. It is
a piercingly sad story, tightly focused on its principal characters, simply told, and
beautifully acted...Why a man like Slavko becomes an accomplice in such slaughter, and why
he accepts an evicted, probably murdered, Muslim family's suburban house as a reward for
his triggerwork is a mystery Shot Though the Heart can't solve. It just presents
the contradictions, Slavko's warmth and loyalty along with his hatred and will to kill,
and fuses them in Vincent Perez's appealingly loose, chillingly credible
"The grim street scenes, filmed in Budapest and Sarajevo itself, have a chilling
documentary quality... Perez plays the freewheeling Slavko with dark
charm as he succumbs to the tribal mentality that started the war, occupying a cozy
suburban house whose owners have been brutally dispossessed."
"Shot Through the Heart brings the tragic ironies of Sarajevo into gripping
and agonizing focus... None of the actors could be called a household name, but they all
give properly intense performances, especially Roache and Perez, with
Williams very strong as the wife and mother determined that her family survives."
Las Vegas Weekly:
Vincent Perez and Linus Roache are wonderfully believable as the
conflicted friends and are supported by a number of fine performances... Shot
Through the Heart puts a very human face on the tragedy of war."
Los Angeles Times:
"Directed by David Attwood without one false emotion, Shot Through the Heart
has the tone and pacing of a good independent theatrical feature...This one also has in
its favor strong performances by a relatively small-name cast."
"This tragic true story of best friends torn apart in a terrible war of old
ethnic hatreds makes 'Shot Through the Heart' a film you won't soon
forget... The cast is splendid - from Linus Roache, who plays Vlado
Sarzinsky, and Vincent Perez, who plays his friend Slavko, to the
sniper-extras in the streets. They bring this war into our living room."
San Francisco Chronicle:
"However thick the politics and ethnic entanglements, the story is stark and
powerful. Also, true. Grim but determinedly humanistic...
The story of best friends split by war is so pungent that at times it
threatens to overwhelm the bigger picture. But the particular tragedy of
Sarajevo does emerge. Pats on the back and shiny
medals to HBO. Not only did it make the movie, but it also approved a low-profile cast,
because these actors were right for the parts."
Dallas Morning News:
"Mr. Perez, who played a tragic Russian immigrant in the
underappreciated Swept From the Sea, has his most effective scenes when the two
friends are briefly reunited."
"'Shot Through the Heart'' brings the tragedy of Sarajevo into gripping and
agonizing focus the way no newscast or documentary has done... The film is
an uncompromisingly grim and suspenseful story about life in a world turned
madly upside down... None of the actors could be called a household name,
but they all give properly intense performances, especially Roache and
Perez, with Williams strong as the wife and mother. 'Shot Through the
Heart' is a topical shocker with dead aim and shattering impact."
"Attwood's direction, which is realistic without becoming docudrama, is
always tightly focused and often gripping, re-creating a totally convincing
milieu... Based on a real life character, who advised the filmmakers during
production, Guy Hibbert's script skillfully simplifies a complex, confused
situation and creates the framework for an interesting conflict. Once the
siege begins, the film strikingly conveys the horror of casual killings in a
still-functioning city, as pedestrians simply slump to the ground, felled by
sniper fire, or an area a block away suddenly becomes a no-go zone."
The Hollywood Reporter:
"An an absorbing and gut-wrenching tale of friendship destroyed by war's
insanity. Director David Attwood effectively combines location shooting in
Sarajevo and in Budapest, Hungary, to re-create the bleak, scary atmosphere
of a city under siege. There are strong performances throughout... Guy
Hibbert's script is praiseworthy for its effort to make the complicated
situation understandable and its unflinching portrayals of the atrocities by
the Serbian army."
"It's absolutely horrifying and heart-wrenching. It's difficult to imagine a
situation in which any of us would be forced to shoot and kill our best
friend. But then, it's difficult for Americans to understand the civil war
in Yugoslavia and the ethnic violence that shattered the peace of Sarajevo.
The made-for-cable movie is shattering as it recounts the true story of just
such an incident in that horrific war."
"Why would a
very nice guy become a killer? I think it's about savagery. When you see the wars in the
world, you see the people slipping slowly into a savage way to survive. I think that's
part of being human because it happened many times all over the world. What is
extraordinary is how quickly the descent into savagery can take place."
"I felt something very strong with the character and I just
followed my heart."
"They (Sarajevo survivors) said the war was like an earthquake. It happened and now
it's gone. You can't say the earthquake was right or wrong. All you know is that it
"What this film is about is the ability of the human spirit to keep going regardless
of the difficulties it encounters on a daily basis."
"The idea that these two best friends could grow up like brothers
and then be separated by the war makes one think what was this friendship? I think he
(Vlado) misses his friend."
Linus Roache.....Vlado Sarzinsky
Vincent Perez.....Slavko Simic
Adam Kotz .....Misho
Balázs Farkas (II).....Malik
Premiered on HBO on October 3, 1998
Shown at the London Film Festival in
TV Critics Association
Awards Nomination for Outstanding Achievement
in Movies, Mini-Series and Specials 1999
San Francisciso In'tl film Festival
Nomination for Television Drama Feature
Peabody Awards Winner, 1999
National Educational Media Network Winner,
Gold Apple 2006
Gemini Awards Nomination
for Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Dramatic
Gemini Awards Nomination for Mini-Series,
Best TV Movie or Dramatic 1999
Click pad for Production Notes
and Full Synopsis
Released in France as
"Une balle en plein coeur"
(A Bullet in the Heart")