HBO -1998
112 minutes



Synopsis: 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.


Boston Globe:
"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 performance."

"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."

Washington Post:
"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."

Houston Chronicle:
"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."

Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
"'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."

Deseret News:
"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."


vletter.gif (1289 bytes)"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 happened."

"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
Lia William.....Maida
Lothaire Blu.....Zijah
Adam Kotz .....Misho
Soo Garay.....Amela
Viktoria Bajza....Lenka
Balázs Farkas (II).....Malik
Karianne Henderso.....Nadja
Caroline Trowbridge.....Natasha


Directed by.....David Atwood 
Written by......Guy Hibbert
Cinematography by.....Gabor Szabo
Music by.....Ed Shearmur

Premiered on HBO on October 3, 1998

Shown at the London Film Festival in November 1998


  • 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 1999

  • 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 Production 1999

  • Gemini Awards Nomination for Mini-Series, Best TV Movie or Dramatic 1999


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Asian DVD


Released in France as "Une balle en plein coeur"
(A Bullet in the Heart")