Bosnian war victims’ associations hailed Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, a love story set in wartime Bosnia, as an objective and sincere portrayal of the inter-ethnic conflict, reports news agency AFP. “This movie is deeply moving for the victims who experienced all of these things,” Murat Tahirovic, who heads an association of prisoners of war, said after seeing it in a special screening in Sarajevo.
“It is completely objective and it really tells the facts of what happened during the war.” The movie, which the Hollywood superstar filmed in 2010, tells the love story of a Muslim woman and a Serb man set against the background of Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war.
The film caused controversy in Bosnia when local media, at first, speculated that it was the story of a Muslim rape victim who falls in love with her Serb attacker. The rumours prompted angry reactions from some victims’ organisations, including several who have now praised the film after finally seeing it.
To allay the fears of war victims about the film, it was shown to several local representatives at a screening in Sarajevo on December 8, closed to the media and the general public. “She really succeeded in telling the story of the whole war in her film and to show the most characteristic situations that detainees faced — mass executions, rapes, (being used as) human shields and all the other horrors,” Tahirovic said.
Due to initial objections, Jolie was forced to film most of the feature in Budapest. However, Hatidza Mehmedovic, who lost her husband and two teenage sons in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, said she was disappointed the film was shot elsewhere, reports Reuters. “The film is so strong, so difficult and it would have been stronger if it was shot in Bosnia,” Reuters quoted her as saying.
In an interview published on December 9 in the Bosnian daily Dnevni Avaz, Jolie said her intentions were to make a movie that would “explain to people” what had happened in Bosnia’s war between its Croats, Muslims and Serbs, which claimed some 100,000 lives. “I would never want to hurt someone who has already been hurt,” she said.
Jolie explained that the film tells the history of a love, born before the conflict started, between a young Muslim woman and a Serb man who meet again later in a detention camp, where she is being held and he is in charge of the site.
Meanwhile, the head of an association of mothers of Srebrenica massacre victims, who had earlier spoken out against Jolie after the media rumours, said the final product was “really an excellent movie”. “It will never be possible to make a movie that would show everything that went on in Bosnia during the war,” said Hatidza Mehmedovic. She said she wanted to “thank Angelina for her intellectual and financial investment.”
Meanwhile, Jolie had to face a lawsuit, filed against her directing debut, which claims it borrows liberally from a 2007 book by a Croatian journalist about the Balkan conflict of the early 1990s, reports guardian.co.uk. James Braddock is suing Jolie and the producers of her film, claiming they infringed the copyright on his book The Soul Shattering. However, in an interview with the LA Times, Jolie denied ever having read Braddock’s book. “It’s a combination of many people’s stories. But that particular book I’ve never seen.”
(With additional information from Afp and Reuters)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2011.