by George Lekovic
Producers must produce, no matter what the circumstance. For Here and There, which shot in New York and then Belgrade, we faced the burning down of the U.S. embassy and the call for all Americans to leave Serbia. This was the week before we were scheduled to start shooting in Belgrade.
David Thornton, our lead American actor, called me from a diner in Los Angeles. He was eating a sandwich and watching the embassy burn. He was, quite understandably, worried. So I lied to him. “Nothing to worry about,” I said. “It happens every day. It’s actually quite normal. After every soccer match, something burns down.” Somehow, that made David more confident.
Then the U.S. State Department withdrew its staff from Serbia, and suggested all American citizens leave the country. That happened the day we all flew to Serbia. But somehow I convinced the cast and crew to stay and make the movie.
Our tenacity and confidence worked out. The sane majority of Serbs greeted this Serbian-American film with open arms, and collaborated happily on the production. During the shoot, we even tried to set up a meeting of U.S. diplomats and Serbian officials on our set. That didn’t happen, but we still got a mighty fine film.
Here and There opens New York City at the Quad on May 14, Los Angeles at the Laemmle Music Hall on May 21, and many other cities soon after. The film won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, and director Darko Lungulov serves on one of Tribeca’s juries this year.