"To see you receiving it so well means the world to me, the actress told the Bosnian crowd

By Karen Nickel Anhalt and Peter Mikelbank
February 17, 2012 04:30 PM
Credit: Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt returned to Sarajevo on Tuesday evening, where Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey received a standing ovation from a tough crowd.

“Most of the people here in the audience lived through the war,” one attendee told PEOPLE, referring to the 1992 Bosnian War that provides the backdrop for the movie. “Seeing the film was so emotional.”

The premiere in the Bosnian capital city, which was ravaged during the civil war, fulfills a promise the couple made last July. During an unannounced drop-in visit to the 17th annual Sarajevo Film Festival, where Jolie was honored for her part in promoting the nation’s film industry, she told attendees, “We’ll be back.”

“To see you receiving it so well means the world to me, a tearful Jolie, 36, told the audience of 6,000 Tuesday, following the screening at Zetra Olympic Hall. “I feel so deeply for all of you in this country,” she said, adding a “Thank you” in Bosnian.

After the screening, Jolie and Pitt stayed to talk to the crowd, most of whom were there through the war.

At an afternoon press conference, Jolie discussed her film and the long controversial history it has in the Balkan country, saying she hoped the film would serve as a “wake-up call for the international community.

“I’m satisfied with what we made, I feel very strongly about it and I believe that its core issue – which is the need for intervention and need for the world to care about atrocities when they are happening – is very, very timely and especially with things that are happening in Syria today, Jolie told journalists from the Associated Foreign Press.

“I just felt that this subject was important and was really moved by it.”

A report in the UK’s Express said Jolie and some cast members had received violent threats during filming, but the film’s distributor they did not extend to the premiere.

“Not at all,” Ivona Lusic of Blitz Film told PEOPLE. “There were no threats [at the premiere].”

Jolie also announced her return to acting at a premiere in Berlin, revealing her next film project would be Maleficent, a retelling of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty from the Evil Queen’s point of view.

But she also hasn’t ruled out returning to directing.

“If I can find something that means as much to me, I will try, but if this is the only thing I ever directed, I would be very happy,” she told journalists in Sarajevo.