Matt Damon Explains Why U2 Was 'Reluctant' to Participate in His New Doc with Ben Affleck (Exclusive)

'Kiss the Future,' directed by Nenad Cicin-Sain, depicts how Sarajevo's music scene thrived during the years long Bosnian War in the 1990s

<p>Samir Hussein/WireImage, C Flanigan/FilmMagic</p> Matt Damon, The Edge and Bono

Samir Hussein/WireImage, C Flanigan/FilmMagic

Matt Damon, The Edge and Bono

Matt Damon is sharing how he persuaded the members of U2 to participate in a new documentary about the Bosnian War.

Damon, 53, and Ben Affleck co-produced the film Kiss the Future, a documentary that covers the nearly four years-long siege of Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina, during the 1990s and the arts scene that flourished in the city during the civil war. In an interview with PEOPLE, Damon and the movie's director Nenad Cicin-Sain detailed why U2 was initially hesitant to attach their name to the powerful story.

"I went to them right away and told them about this project and asked if they'd participate and they were reluctant at first," Damon tells PEOPLE. "And I talked to them and realized why — they didn't want the movie to be about them." 

"They were like, 'We don't want to be centered in this story,'" he adds, noting he and filmmaker Cicin-Sain worked to ensure the film was about "these incredible Sarajevan people and their relationship to [U2's] music."

Kiss the Future documents the lives of Sarajevans during the siege and how an American aid worker, Bill Carter, got in contact with the Irish rock band after arriving in Sarajevo during the war. Inspired by how many Sarajevans turned to U2's music throughout the siege, Carter secured an interview with U2 prior to a concert in Italy that aired on Sarajevo local news.

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<p>Paramount+</p> Kiss the Future


Kiss the Future

After connecting with Carter, the band made significant efforts to raise awareness about the war during their tours in the '90s. They ultimately performed in Sarajevo in September 1997, once the war had ended.

"We were like, 'No, it's about this incredible thing that you guys did — it's about the role of art as an act of resistance in the world and in people's lives and these incredible people who literally were risking their lives to go listen to music or to play music in the middle of the siege,'" Damon says of U2's importance to the film's story.

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Filmmaker Cicin-Sain, whose family hails from the former Yugoslavia, tells PEOPLE he was inspired to make Kiss the Future after attending a 2017 concert in Sarajevo that marked the 20th anniversary of U2's 1996 performance, saying he "saw the concert as a way to share what happened in my country."

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<p>Bill Carter/Paramount+</p> Bill Carter in Bono in 2024's 'Kiss the Future'

Bill Carter/Paramount+

Bill Carter in Bono in 2024's 'Kiss the Future'

The documentary covers how U2 worked to ensure they increased international awareness for the citizens of Sarajevo without appearing self-serving. Cicin-Sain points out that the band's music and politics stem from coming of age in Ireland during the Troubles in the mid-20th century.

"The reason that U2 went to Sarajevo in the first place was they saw what was happening as similar to what happened in their own country, with social injustice," he tells PEOPLE. "And they saw a place where they could add value and contribute and have purpose."

Kiss the Future is streaming on Paramount+ now.

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Read the original article on People.