Funded! This project was successfully funded on February 10.


With the success of the first campaign, we completed production - thanks to all who supported. This campaign is for post production.

Once again, we are launching a Kickstarter campaign to help us complete this crucial documentary on the use of systematic rape as operational military doctrine during the Bosnian War, and what happens to survivors post-conflict.  We saw the same thing occur in Rwanda, the Congo, Liberia, Uganda, Bangladesh, Haiti, Cambodia, Cyprus, Darfur, and now in Syria... all in devastating numbers.  How survivors are treated post-conflict in one region of the world, regardless of whether it is in the heart of Europe, or the heart of Africa, and whether perpetrators continue to be brought to justice, has a HUGE impact on how survivors will be treated going forward, regardless of geographical location.  The sexual violation of women erodes the fabric of a community in a way that few weapons can.  Rape's damage can be devastating because of the strong communal reaction to the violation and the pain stamped on entire families.  In such cases, the harm inflicted on a girl or a woman is an attack on her family and culture, since in many societies women are viewed as repositories of a community's cultural and spiritual values.

Please note that although we're asking for $16,000, once you review the below information, you'll see why we hope to SURPASS the $16,000 goal and be at a comfortable $22,000!  Please help us shoot for the stars, and get this important documentary completed the right way...brilliantly!  And to all who contributed before, you've helped so much, and without you we would not have been able to finish although we welcome any and all assistance, please don't feel obligated.  Regardless, please share on your FB pages, tweet about the project, and share in emails or word of mouth...every single bit helps.  Thank you!

After a very successful first Kickstarter campaign ( provided us with the funds to purchase and rent equipment, travel to/within Bosnia, the Netherlands, Washington, DC, and ultimately complete production, we are now seeking finishing funds to help see this film through post production and launch it onto the exciting film festival circuit.  

The following are just some of the highlights from our extremely busy past summer and fall:

- Interviewed award-winning journalist Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege, which is a project of the Women's Media Center, founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan.

- Traveled throughout Bosnia and Republika Srpska (the "ethnically cleansed" entity, formerly part of Bosnia, now under Serb leadership), speaking with both survivors and others involved in the genocide (i.e., alleged former perpetrators). 

- Documented Croatia's celebratory entry into the EU in Zagreb (FYI, Croatia received pressure from the powers that be in Belgium to drop its genocide claim against Serbia in order to finally gain entry into the EU. We have reason to believe this same pressure is now being placed on Bosnia).

The heads of all the European Nations as they make their way onto the stage.
The heads of all the European Nations as they make their way onto the stage.

- Spent hours with Bakira at her organization's new offices in central Sarajevo, far from the bullet-ridden outskirts of their old office, where I spent most of the 2010/2011 winter. To this day, she receives hate mail and death threats on a regular basis.

- Accompanied Bakira to her hometown of Visegrad, where she and her family spend almost every weekend.  Documenting her in these private moments, with her grandchildren by her side, in her garden, were priceless. 

Bakira in her mother's old garden in Visegrad, after digging up potatoes for us :)
Bakira in her mother's old garden in Visegrad, after digging up potatoes for us :)

- Not revealing the subject matter of the film, nor our names, we visited the notorious former rape camp (now health spa and hotel), Vilina Vlas in Visegrad, and talked to its Serbian manager, who denied anything ever happened at this "spa", and that testimonies by survivors are "all lies, lies, lies".  

Vilina Vlas, just before we headed in with our cameras...
Vilina Vlas, just before we headed in with our cameras...

(Here's a feature film set here, For Those Who Can Tell No Tales, done by a brilliant, multi-award-winning filmmaker: )  

- Traveled to Rotterdam and interviewed Peter Robinson, chief defense counsel for the war criminal and orchestrator of systematic rape as warfare in Bosnia, Radovan Karadzic, after the latter declined to be interviewed after reviewing our questions. 

w/ Peter Robinson at the Hague
w/ Peter Robinson at the Hague

- Interviewed Nerma Jelacic, a Bosnian refugee and now head of communications for the ICTY at The Hague. Introduction made by Bakira.

- Traveled to Istanbul, Turkey to meet with Roy Gutman, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Witness to Genocide, who left on an emergency reporting assignment to Egypt, the very hour we landed.

- Interviewed recently for my undergrad alma mater's alumni magazine, for the front page story which should be out Spring 2014. Rather eery as it's truly come full circle - the following is from its 2001 story:

- Finally interviewed Roy Gutman at his U.S. home in Washington, DC. :)

We are currently working towards a rough cut, which we plan to have by March, and then a polished final cut by May.  Submission deadline to the Sarajevo International Film Festival is May 31st and we can't think of a more appropriate festival venue to have the film's world premiere.

As we are quickly experiencing first-hand, post-production is the most costly phase of the filmmaking process.  By reaching our goal of $16,000 (and ultimate goal of $22,000), we'll be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief and be confident that we'll be able to cover expenses for the following:

1. Transcription:  transcribing all audio into a readable script format (translating and editing can't be done without it).  We are attempting to do some of this ourselves, but if off by one second, it could cost us more time and money to correct it, so we do prefer to hire a pro.  Given we now have about 50 hours of footage, it takes about 2 weeks, and then goes off to the translator.  This will cost us $2,200.

2.  Translation:  translating all non-English audio.  About a 1/4 of the film is in Bosnian, and although we have a very generous company that will manage the whole task PRO BONO, the fee for the professional translator will be about $800-2,000.  The CEO of this company, will try to convince them to cut us a huge deal because of the nature of the film.  Still, we have our fingers crossed.

3. Our brilliant editor:  an editor's going rate these days is $8,000/month (when he/she is focused on one project alone), and it takes about 1-2 months to complete a rough cut (again, when focused on just one project), then about another month to complete the final cut.  If we reach our goal of 16k, please realize that alone would just cover the editor, barely.  He has given us a HUGE reduced rate, but, regardless, if we could surpass our goal, that would be ideal.  

4. Composer & Music Licensing:  music composition, as well as the rights to use certain tracks that will complement the story, and/or highlight an emotion.  This is a pretty important component, since nothing screams "bad" like a substandard soundtrack, no matter how striking or powerful the image.  Some artists are contributing for free, and others are asking a mere $200 for one track, so this should be relatively manageable.

5. Archival news footage and/or photographs (i.e., use of one still image from Getty Images or AP/World Wide Images is usually $208; and an archived news clip is anywhere between $625 to $2,310).  The brilliant war photographer Andree Kaiser is lending us several of his still photographs pro bono to help minimize these wonderful!  Regardless, there are still archived clips of video footage that we'll need for the purposes of this story. 

6. Sound editing and mixing for the final cut.  The estimated budget for this can be anywhere from $4,500-6,000.  Hard to find a super talented pro who will work for a super low fee, but as our editor is cutting us a deal, we hope we'll find the same w/ a sound mixer...again, the more you can give, or rather, the more people you can spread the word to about this film, the better we'll be!

7. Color correction.  We won't be going crazy with this, since we kept this end goal in mind during the production process, and determined the overall look when each scene was lit and shot. 

8. Please note that Kickstarter takes a fee of 5% off the total amount, and Amazon pockets around 3-5%.

***Regarding the Rewards: All rewards have been sent to the backers who contributed to the first campaign, except for the DVD reward. We will be sending the DVDs out as soon as this film is complete! :)

Creating a truly well-done, heartfelt, and memorable film requires that we not only bring on board, but also are able to pay, extremely talented individuals such as our editor.  Only when done right, will we do justice to the stories we've captured.  That being said, it arms us with the funds to execute a professionally polished film that comes from serious sound editing, music composition, transcription, translation (where needed), and color correction.  There are other costs as well - legal fees, music licensing, music composition, not to mention exhibition copies of the documentary, film festival copies, film festival submission fees, and potential travel expenses to festival venues.  With your help, we can pay for all of these necessary expenses and prepare Persephone Speaks: The Forgotten Women of Bosnia for the wide audience it richly deserves.

One of the write-ups on the project, written by Bidisha, a regular BBC guest, writer for the Huffington Post, and a Booker Prize Foundation trustee:

Please visit our initial Kickstarter page for a more detailed description of the documentary, and why it's so important to get this made.

"Like" us on Facebook, and invite others to follow our progress:

And follow us on Twitter:

Thanks a million.  Now let's do this!!


Ivana Ivkovic Kelley and the Persephone Speaks team

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

A big risk for us at the onset of production and even the first campaign - and continues to this day - has been making this project public, due to its extremely sensitive material. Since many perpetrators are still at large, or live freely in "ethnically cleansed" towns, some in promoted positions within the police force or in local government, word about our project spread quickly. We have been bombarded with our share of "hate mail", in both email form, as well as threatening comments on our FB page. This is a risk that simply comes with the territory, and I'm certainly not the first documentary filmmaker to encounter it, nor will I be the last.

That being said, even though it was nothing but challenging to track people down, follow them, sometimes having to fly from one city to another in an entirely different continent just to finally get someone on camera, it all came together smoothly in the end. This could not have been accomplished without us all working together (note: we are so lucky to have the most brilliant cinematographer and local Bosnia producer on board). And none of this could have been accomplished without us all being on the same page, and going with the [production] flow.

Now the real hard work begins. We have found our amazing editor, and believe it's kismet. Nonetheless, another challenge rearing its head once again, is the extremely sensitive nature of the subject matter, and placing this baby of ours into the trusted and caring hands of our editor, who will be lending his own breath in helping us craft this story in a way that, we hope, will make this into one of the most powerful and moving documentaries that our audience will ever see.


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    All of the above rewards, plus a percentage of your donation goes to Women Victims of War, the amazing non-profit group in Sarajevo which is a support group for survivors of systematic rape, and provides testimonies to the Hague, as well as local courts, to this day.

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    Thank you, thank you, thank you. All of the above rewards, plus an honorary Associate Producer credit in the film!!

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    We're truly speechless. Thank you. All of the above rewards, but instead of an AP credit, you will be listed as an honorary Executive Producer in the film.

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    WOW...what can we say??? All of the rewards listed above, plus a personal invitation to the film's premiere and after party (location TBD).

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