Mr Sarajevo

03 May 2005
Mr Sarajevo
The compelling story of how a writer and a rock band hooked up in a warzone.

We've talked on this site before about the amazing Bill Carter, traveller, activist, filmmaker and writer.

Bill first bumped into U2 in the early 1990's, while he was in Sarajevo, then the most dangerous city on earth and at the heart of war in the Balkans. As a result of Bill's outrageous idea, he persuaded U2 to let him broadcast live interviews with the citizens of Sarajevo into U2's Zoo TV tour night after night. His footage from the city, giving a voice to a people trapped in a warzone, became the award-winning documentary 'Miss Sarajevo'.

Now Bill's memoir, 'Fools Rush In', has been published in the US by Wenner Books. Here we carry an interview Bill gave to Rolling Stone, along with information on how you can buy the book.

More on Bill at his website here www.billcarter.cc

RS - In your film, and now your book, you put a human face on the suffering in Sarajevo.

BC - War was the context for everything, but within it you see that people's lives are continuing to go on, whether they're happy or depressed, getting divorced.... Whatever their thing is, it doesn't stop because of war.

RS - Was life heightened somehow by what was going on around you?

BC - If you're on the edge of life, everything you do has a heightened sense. There were instances where I'd speak to someone, and two minutes later they were dead. So when you have two minutes with someone, you have to make it count.

RS - Why did you reach out to U2?

BC - I think, instinctively, U2 made sense here. I thought they might feel a connection to Bosnia, because of the problems in Ireland.

RS - U2 agreed to broadcast images from Sarajevo on their Zooropa tour. Isn't that out of place at a rock concert?

BC - I think that's why U2 did it, and I think that's why it worked: You couldn't change the channel. When you go to a U2 concert, it's a really powerful experience, and in the middle of that we dropped in these intense images. And you hope people will leave the concert and go talk about it. I think artists can make a massive difference.

RS - Did Sarajevo heal the wounds you felt from Corrina's death?

BC - No. Grief is a very strange animal. It can make you happy, and it can make you sad. It's a weird wave to ride. And I was in the middle of that wave, not seeing very much light at the end of the tunnel.

RS - Did writing the book help?

BC - The book was much more cathartic. But those six pages about Corrina are the hardest six pages I've ever written.

RS - Does art have the power to heal?

BC - When I was in Sarajevo, a book-reading was a phenomenal thing. If an orchestra found a way to play in some bunker, it was an event. People would risk their lives to play. There's a debate over whether art really matters, but in Sarajevo art mattered to the point of life and death.

(Interview by David Swanson)

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