Script File

Panis (Revised)

An injured boy vows revenge on soldiers who killed his family, while his caregiver, a nun, urges him to forgive.

Panis is the story of 12-year-old Belmin Jasic, a Bosnian boy injured in an artillery blast, and Sister Sabine, an American nun caring for him. Inspired by true events that took place in 1995 during the Bosnian war, the story tells of the unlikely friendship between two individuals confronted by personal tragedy.

The story spans several decades, ending in 2025, when Sister Sabine (who is now Mother Superior) is in her deathbed and confesses to a sin she kept secret for 30 years.

It’s 2005. In San Francisco, 22-year-old Belmin Jasic waits for Mr. Verbeck at a diner. After certifying Verbeck’s identity, Belmin shoots him dead. Elderly customers, in apparent approval of Belmin’s act, spit on Verbeck’s corpse. They organize themselves into a group to dispose of the body. A mysterious stranger known only as S. Nottingham arrives and confronts the barista who witnessed the killing, seeking information about the killer and threatening the barista if she didn’t talk.

Flash to 1995, and 12-year-old Belmin is seen running in a field and into a forest.

Flash to 2025, 54-year-old Mother Superior is on her deathbed, attended to by younger nuns. She tasks young Sister Agnes to carry out her dying wishes.

Back to 1995, and Belmin witnesses the massacre of his male family members and friends by a paramilitary force. His best friend, Vadim Kodro, fights back but is quickly executed by the man in charge, Vuksan Soric. Soric appears to be Mr. Verbeck when he was younger by ten years.

Belmin wakes up in a hospital, as 24-year-old Sister Sabine, cares for him. Belmin is in pain from injuries sustained from an explosion. Belmin and Sabine exchange stories of their lives.

Sabine shares details of her life, the most painful of which was the beatings from her father who blamed her for the death of his wife (her mother). Sabine’s brother, Logan, had intervened to protect Sabine but is killed by the police when he assaults the abusive father. Belmin promises to exact revenge for himself and for her as well. Sabine exhorts Belmin to forgive.

Belmin recalls happy days swimming the Drina River with friends (including Vadim). It was Belmin’s uncle, Erol, who would drive Belmin and his friends to the river. Erol would watch the boys swimming from the restaurant of his friend, Anto Ramovic. Anto and Erol discuss the conflict instigated by nationalists after the death of Josip Broz Tito.

Nineteen-year-old Selma, an orphan rescued by Anto from the streets, works at the restaurant. She likes Belmin and bakes him his favorite pastries. Selma tells Belmin she is in love with a man named Filip Cededa. She suspects that he’s a spy, but it adds to his mystique. Selma fantasizes having children with Filip.

Anto’s nephew, Mirsad, a world class karate competitor, practices his kata outside the restaurant. Anto explains to Erol that Mirsad decided to forego world competitions to fight in the coming war.

Flash to 2005 and two men, known only by their radio handles, Knife and Peeler, are conducting surveillance of a bakery from a car. Belmin, 22, now, changes into a disguise and confronts Knife to find out who Knife is working for. Knife reveals at gunpoint that he works for an organization called Botev. Belmin is aided in his mission by elderly people working in the background.

Belmin owns two bakeries in the Bay Area. He lives a life of charitable deeds, but he is secretly compiling dossiers on the soldiers who killed his family. He travels to Budapest, to kill a soldier name Ljubomir Alas, while evading the Botev operatives (S. Nottingham, Knife and Peeler) who are quickly closing in on him.

Belmin meets Filip in Moscow to collect more information about Botev, revealed to be holdover remnants of state security services that were disbanded when the Berlin Wall fell. Botev traffics drugs, contraband and people, aiding war criminals to escape justice. Filip warns Belmin that Botev is after Belmin.

Belmin tells Filip that Selma was kept as a sex slave by the invading forces. A mother to two infants, Selma was unable to escape her circumstances until the day she decided to end it all. She kills her last rapist and her own babies. She kills several of her tormentors before she is gunned down. Filip learns the devastating news that Selma bore him two children, now dead. In a quid pro quo proposal, Belmin asks Filip to leave Moscow so Belmin can protect him. True to his word, Belmin aids Filip to successfully evade Botev after Filip becomes a target of Botev as well.

Belmin travels to Sydney, Australia, to kill another soldier named Miodrag Jugovic.

Back to 1995, and Anto works as an interpreter in the hospital where Sabine works. Karate champion Mirsad is brought to the hospital with serious injuries requiring the amputation of his legs. In despair, because he could no longer compete, Mirsad takes his own life.

Anto is faced with a dilemma. Mirsad’s family wants him buried in England, but since Sarajevo is under siege, Anto is unable to ship Mirsad’s body home. In the Islamic tradition, a quick burial is required. Sister Sabine asks if there is anything they can do. She and Anto dig up a body from a graveyard, have it cremated and place the ashes in an urn. They retrieve body parts from the hospital morgue to be placed in another grave (as Anto foresees a future commemorative graveyard for the war dead identified by DNA).

Flash to 2025. Mother Superior (Sabine) confesses to Fr. Alphonse of the grave sin she had committed, of digging up a body, cremating it, transporting it across international borders and not confessing her transgression for 30 years.

Flash to 1995. Sabine and Anto watch Dr. Albrecht pronounce the death of a patient. Anto tries to assuage Sabine of her grief. They start a conversation but it’s interrupted.

Flash to 2025. Fr. Alphonse, in a Catholic Mass homily, acquiesces to Sister Agnes’ request—Mother Superior’s dying wish—to welcome into the church, the Islamic refugees of the 1995 massacre and their descendants who have settled in San Francisco. Fr. Alphonse also allows the transport of a box containing ashes of a dead person.

The opening scene is rewound but with a change. Belmin no longer kills Verbeck. He throws away his weapons. Botev abandons its pursuit of him. Belmin goes home to his wife, Sabine and their two children.

The interrupted conversation between Sabine and Anto is revealed to be what Belmin said to Anto in the hospital. Anto said that Belmin went home happy—the gift of forgiveness advised by Sabine. The story fluxes between events that are happening in the real world and those that are mere projections in Belmin’s mind while he was fighting for his life in the hospital.

The burial marker of Belmin Jasic, born 1983 and died 1995, is revealed. And so we realize Belmin never made it out of that hospital bed, succumbing to his injuries at age 12, seven days after he was brought to the hospital.

  • Bobby Salter
  • Project Type:
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    United States
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  • Santa Barbara International Screenplay Awards
    Santa Barbara
    March 31, 2023
Writer - Bobby Salter