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“Beautiful People”: Jasmin Dizdar Interview

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., Feb. 10, 2000 — “Beautiful People” opens with two men recognizing each other on a London bus and immediately launch into a fistfight. It segues to a hospital, where a man hit by a car falls in love with the medical intern on duty. Elsewhere, a lonely doctor treats a couple giving birth to an unwanted child.

Despite its interwoven-story appearance, this isn’t Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” or Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts.” Each character in “Beautiful People” has ties to the war in Bosnia, whether they be refugee or nationalists. And although the film takes place in London, the violence thousands of miles away seeps into characters’ daily lives.

The film is the brainchild of 38-year-old Jasmin Dizdar, born in Bosnia but a naturalized Brit. After directing short films and television dramas, Dizdar chose to write and direct “Beautiful People” as his first feature.

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“I didn’t really sit in my study and think ‘What I’m gonna do for my first feature film?'” Dizdar says. “It was really certain moments in your life … things start coming out of you, you start writing. I felt very good doing it and I was very happy reading the first few pages. … It’s me. This is me, that’s what matters. I don’t care when other people read it.”

Touched by his own secondhand experiences with war, Dizdar, who lived in Bosnia, Prague and now London, sought to make a film about living in a strange world and learning about people. The two men on the bus are both Bosnian refugees — a Serb and a Croat — who were once friends from the same village. But themes of war translate into family wars, as the rebellious medical intern (Charlotte Coleman) brings the Bosnian car victim home to meet her upper-class parents, and the doctor whose Bosnian refugee patient doesn’t want her baby because she was impregnated through rape by soldiers.

Ironically, the somber subject of war and human drama is tinged with humor, which Dizdar felt was necessary to convey his point.

“I wanted to make a film about people who have so much to say and they don’t know how to do it,” he says. “I love to make stories and film where you actually combine things in a way that you usually wouldn’t, that you see things slightly from a different perspective.

“You say these people are having dinner, and you say ‘What’s interesting about that?’ and what’s the point … This is exactly what opens up everyone; people can be relaxing and truthful and honest. You have to see it from a slightly different angle.”

“Beautiful People” opens in New York on Feb. 17.

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