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Bosnia

Bosnia War Victims Praise New Jolie Film

"In the Land of Blood and Honey" is the directing debut of Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie.
"In the Land of Blood and Honey" is the directing debut of Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie.
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By Marija Arnautovic
SARAJEVO -- Hollywood star and social activist Angelina Jolie has brought her directorial debut to its most critical audience. And the reception has been one of gratitude and respect.

Jolie presented "In the Land of Blood and Honey" -- an intense, dark drama about a couple torn apart by the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- to an audience assembled by 11 war victims' advocacy organizations in Sarajevo on December 8.

The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Hatidza Mehmedovic, who lost her husband, two sons, and other male relatives in the massacre of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 and who now heads an NGO called Srebrenica Mothers, said "In the Land of Blood and Honey" was an important film.

"This is a powerful movie for people who survived war -- for all the victims and for any person who lived to witness the war and aggression,” Mehmedovic said. “I think all people in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- and those around the region and the world -- should see this movie. I think that it would be good for our children and youths. We have children that were born in 1990s, and they do not remember the war.”

She added: “We hope that Angelina Jolie will continue to make such movies. We cannot undo what happened here; we cannot heal the wounds of the families of those who died. But it is good to see the image of what happened presented to the world in the proper way."

This response is just what Jolie was hoping for.

'A Very Good Movie'

In an interview with the Voice of America, Jolie said she had often been bothered by the lack of assistance for war victims -- particularly women -- that she has seen around the world during her travels as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations’ refugee agency, the UNHCR.

"Bosnia in particular -- the more I learned about it and the more I read about it, the more angry I got about the lack of intervention, the more emotional I was about the violence against women," Jolie said.

WATCH: Angelina Jolie discuses making "In The Land Of Blood And Honey" with VOA

Angelina Jolie Discusses Film Set In Bosnia i
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December 09, 2011
In an exclusive interview conducted by VOA's Bosnian Service, Angelina Jolie discusses her directorial debut, “In the Land of Blood and Honey.” In the film, set during the Bosnian war of the early 1990s, a love story unfolds between a Bosnian woman held in a Serbian camp and her captor, a Bosnian Serb army captain.


Making the film was not easy. In late 2010, the Bosnian government revoked Jolie's permission to film in response to complaints from victims’ organizations. They had heard unfounded rumors that the film was about a rape victim who falls in love with her rapist. They even petitioned the UNHCR to have her title as goodwill ambassador rescinded.

Murat Tahirovic, a survivor of the Omarska detention camp and now head of the Association of Camp Prisoners of Bosnia-Herzegovina, told RFE/RL's Balkan Service that he was among those who lobbied to have the filming blocked -- an action he now regrets after seeing the finished product.

"It is a very good movie, extraordinarily well done,” Tahirovic said. “It deals with the very substance of the war in Bosnia. All the main points are there -- camps, torture, crimes, and -- worst of all -- crimes against the honor of women."

"In the Land of Blood and Honey" tells the story of a Bosnian Muslim woman and an ethnic Serbian man who fall in love before the war and meet again during the conflict -- when he is an officer in the Serbian army and she is a prisoner in a detention camp.

Jolie, who was only a teenager when the war in Bosnia raged in 1992-1995, said she was drawn toward making the film by learning about how the civil war ripped apart the country's multiethnic society.

"The more I learned, the less I understood about how neighbors could turn on neighbors and how a people who are such an intelligent, wonderful, family-oriented people could . . .  break down in such a way where people were so brutal to each other,” she said.

“And I wanted to do a film that would help to look into the relationships between not just a couple, but also sisters and fathers and sons and mothers and children."

Conflict Destroyed Lives

Tom Gjelten, a correspondent for U.S.-based National Public Radio who covered the war in Bosnia and served as a consultant on Jolie's film, also emphasized the way this conflict destroyed lives.

"One of the things that interested me in Sarajevo was: What did that experience do to individuals and to the relationships between individuals?” said Gjelten. “How did it erode or corrode human relationships and how did it destroy friendships and, indeed, marriages?"

Although the relationships hold the foreground in "In the Land of Blood and Honey," Jolie took pains to include the full scope of the horrors of war. She said she wanted to force audiences to confront war’s violence and to imagine how horrific it must have been to have endured the conflict.

Nonetheless, she said, some scenes -- such as one showing a stray dog eating part of a human corpse -- were judged unbearable by test audiences and were cut.

Jolie consulted with witnesses, survivors and experts in an attempt to make the film as authentic as possible.

She insisted that it be released in Serbian with English subtitles -- although such a move is seen as unlikely to endear it to U.S. audiences. Nonetheless, it has garnered critical tributes around the world in the run-up to its official U.S. release on December 23.

'I Want People to Remember Bosnia'

Jolie emphasized that the film was a joint production of the team she assembled, including a cast of Bosnian actors. "We made it together,” she said. “It is not an American film made about Bosnia. It is a film made with one American and many Bosnians and many people from the area and we made it together."

Jolie said she hoped the film will make a contribution to Bosnia and the entire Balkans region as it struggles to come to grips with the past and build a better future. "I want people to remember Bosnia and I want them to remember what happened,” she said.

“I want them to pay respect to all the people who survived and, today, to remember that this country still has so much healing to do and that we have a duty as the international community to befriend and support and help through this new stage, this new transition in this part of the world. So, hopefully, at least, this film will bring about discussion."

That discussion seems to be beginning.

Dragisa Andric, an ethnic Serb who was held prisoner by the Bosnian Army during the war and who now heads the Association of Prisoners From Visegrad, told RFE/RL that the film made a lasting impression.

"This is the most difficult film that I have seen in my entire life,” Andric said. “I am very touched and it upset me a lot. Right now, I feel like a boxer after the fight, after coming out of the ring. I am deeply moved by it -- many scenes that I lived through myself are shown in it  This film had a message, a very tough message. It is not easy to watch, even for those who didn't experience these things themselves."

Written by RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson on the basis of reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service correspondent Marija Arnautovic, RFE/RL Balkans Service Director Gordana Knezevic, and Voice of America's Bosnian Service.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
December 11, 2011 12:18
So,good old Hollywood joins the bleeding heart army of human rights wailers for the victims of`serb` ``terrorism``.When a dutch MP made a short documentary about muslim moderates there was a world wide wail not to show it,because that would hurt the tender `feelings` of the touchy muslim community.When another dutch director speaks his mind about the touchy moderates he is killed in broad daylight in his motherland by another touchy muslim moderate-let`s keep our mouths shut not to anger other moderates.They are victims and we must respect their hollier than thou feelings,besides they supply us with petrol,so keep your mouths shut,or else...And now we have the comic Minnie Mouse figure-the sex symbol of undergraduate America joining the chorus of western wailers,bleeding their hearts out for the poor muslim moderates.When MGM anounced its plans to film Franz Verfel`s classic The 40 days of Musa Dagh,the wild turkeys applied all their political clout to stop the filming which they did,thru US state department intervention,all efforts to film the book since then have been thwarted by the wild turkeys-chief US allies in the fight against whatever necessary.There will be no movies about the kurdish ethnic cleansing from the nineties,done with billions of dollars and us military help. There will be no movies about muslim child bride barters,and the human rights of women in men`s harems or the hundreds of women burned alive in the muslim world each year,no sir,please keep silent,the good old tender moderates are very very touchy and we must not hurt their feelings.Now I think its Brad`s turn to do something for the poor muslim doves-why not convert to Islam and buy himself 3 more child brides to make even more movies about the poor muslim victims.As Angie`s classic tear jerker will premiere just before Xmas he has the time till next Easter to do it.Amen.And a Jollie good Xmas to ya all.
In Response

by: aaa
December 11, 2011 19:18
So what's your point? She did something bad to you or your people? I think not.Why blaming her..?
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
December 11, 2011 23:53
Aaah,dear aaa,if you cant see my point I cannot explain it to you.I cant ever blame the botoxed beauty with the most sensual lips and behind for nothing,the wild turkeys have a term for her-she is an allahtan-the woman is not responsible for her deeds just as the Abdalmudjahedin taliban fellow writing after your post.The muslim doves do not take woman equal to men so you can marry not four but any number which can be divided into 4,and if I can find three more Angelinas I am going to convert to moderate Islam and give Abdalmudjahedin at least two of my Angelinas to keep me happy.

by: Abdulmajid
December 11, 2011 18:33
So, all that tripe about a "rape victim falling in love with the rapist" was all nothing but a lot of BS launched by (I know whom) those who had an interest of such a story not being told. Well, I haven't seen the movie yet (no idea whan and if at all it will come into our cinemas) but it seems very plausible. I have read a story by a girl who was in a rape camp (run by the Abdicevci, who did the same evil as the Serbs to those Bosniaks who were against Fikret Abdic who before the war had been accused of embezzlememt and during the war collaborated openly with the enemy - so much for him being the "legitimate leader of Bosniaks!") and was sold to the Serbs later; in another camp one of teh Serb prison guards did fall in love withher and he tok her out of teh camp and married her; of course she went along - what else was there for her to do to get out of that hell? I have read another story of a woman in Berlin in 1945 under Soviet occupation who sought out the company of a Russian officer - not out of her own choosing but so that he would protect her from the others. So, it's all plausible. Of course that Bosnian girl (in her book she calls herself "Lejla", and that is also the title of the book) got away from that man as fast as she could. Yes, it is a hideous story and it is sulrely must be not at all easy to watch (as the book "Lejla" was also anything but light reading) but it must be told. What utterlya disgusts me is that the first comment I read here is that anti-Muslim diatruibe by some PKK fiend. The PKK do not have my sympathy, it can't be denied that the Kurds are being oppressed by all governments of the countries they live in, except Northern Iraq, which was freed by the "evil imperialist Americans" no less. Ha ha. The PKK are Stalinists and they would do worse things to their own countrymen (setting up a North Korean style dictatorship for example. That is the nature of Stalinists) So, and now I must finish, for I have to go see my third child bride, after all thats what we Mooslims all and habitually do, eh camel Ana(l)turk? Just so you know I have a ten-year old daughter myself and anybody who would want to touch her would have to get past me and he would at least be very badly hurt, who do you think you are that you can insult all Muslims as child rapists, you sniveling cowardly islamophobic hypocrite???
And of course the Islamophobes and Serbofascist christian supremacists and exile chetnik keyboard warriors will respond to me with insult and slander and try to peddle to me the righteousness and justice of their cause - they should know by now that I will not accept any false and pesudoscientific "history" lessons from declared enemies of my people and that they could as well try to convine me that 2+2=5 (but in their obtuse and obnoxious communist mentality, if the party says so, it must be true, and anybody who does not agree merits death); and since they always say that "I prove nothing": Well they always deny the genocidal anti-Bosniak crusade but they can't prove anything themselves so they resort to insult and slander. And the crimes committed during the Bosnian war are not judged according to their merit but according to who committed them. So, when Serbs killed or raped Bosniaks it is justified because of the "Turkish oppression" or "Jasenovac" but when Bosniaks killed one single Serb it is an act of terror and "genocide". With such people discussion is uselsee, they are so primitive and one-dimensional in their thinking, so evil and stupid at the same time (and that's teh worst kind of person around), so utterly negative and destructive. They must be kept from ever gaining power because their wish is still to destroy all Bosniaks, even in exile. Let these people suffer the fate they intend for us balije. What do you say Chentnik fiends???

by: Darren from: Canada
December 13, 2011 03:43
I cannot make any sense out of the following post by vn from Belgrade:

“To: Darren

As for the Srebrenica issue: all those questions should be posed to the insurgent, terrrorist Muslim structures in Bosnia, and especially to the UN (stationed in Belgrade and Sarajevo) who failed to provide those people with food. The CHIEF CULPRIT FOR SREBRENICA IS THE BOSNIAN MUSLIM AND FOREIGN NGO/UN FACTOR. That does not mean that the Yugoslav Army (in case of Srebrenica, with the majority of Serb troops) can be delivered from guilt. Can you please stop mixing up Serbia and the Serbs with the rest of former Yugoslavia.”

Bosnia & Herzegovina used their legal right to secede provided in the Constitution of Yugoslavia. Hence, the terrorist insurgents were the Serbs who tried to prevent it. They were the outlaws.

“Muslim structures”? Most of the Bosniacs are Muslim, but you imply this is reprehensible. No wonder they wanted to secede from you.

“UN (stationed in Belgrade and Sarajevo) who failed to provide those people with food.” You guys slaughtered thousands of defenseless, innocent people, in order to prevent them from dying of starvation?

Are you representative of the Serbs in Serbia? If so, I don’t think you should be admitted in the EU. Human beings don’t do what you did in Srebenica, Sarajevo, Vucovar and Kosova. Animals don’t do it either. So perhaps you are a totally different species. Perhaps SETI should be made aware of you.

I intend to copy this post on a Bosnia-related thread, where there may be other people who would like to comment.

In Response

by: Frank
December 20, 2011 13:16
Fortunately animals don't lie like you Darren.

Before the outbreak of hostilities in Bosnia, Izetebegovic blocked the Bosnian Serbs from taking the Bosnian presidency as was legally required under the rotating presidency.

Non-Serb nationalist violence in former Yugoslavia has been inaccurately downplayed much like your anti-Serb propaganda.
In Response

by: Alex Petersobn from: Florida
January 06, 2012 20:36
You make it sound like their was an absolute maority of Muslims in Bosnia which is not true.

The Yugoslav Constitutions was a communist manifestation created by Tito not by the will of the people and the people did include Serbs. Southern US States thought they had the consitituional right to seceed but we know how that turned out.

The flaw in Bosnia was expecting 1/3 of Bosnia's population is Serbian and to think they would accept secession from Yugoslavia

At any rate does the republika Srpska now have the right to seceed from Bosnia? Seems like every one has the right of self determination but Serbs.

by: haha from: germany
December 14, 2011 11:48
if u really believe the movie was shot to promote truth/historical facts or anything of ideological value, i must disappoint you...

those movies are just the sort of propaganda used by the nazis to justify their rule, if you really believe a movie like this contains more things of value than a book f.ex. then i'm sorry for you and advise you to better study at university, read books etc or just shut up when its about discussing political/historical events.

pathetic CNN,BBC,Hollywood and the like... please dont take hollywood movies, (like the one owen wilson was starring,depicting bosnian muslim fighters as amero-phile guys,listening to american rock rather than to a muezzin and serbs as usual as bloodthirsty animals) serious.
history is written down by historians and for a certain clientele it's just far too complex to understand. not as easy as a movie, that doesnt seek your affirmation or criticism, only the money in your pocket! people arguing about politics/history based on a hollywood movie. Hilarious! (or very sad and stupid)

at least there is one good movie, which shows that neither side in this bloody war was an angel. 'Saviour' directed by P.Antonijevic, shows just what the character of (this) civil war was and always will be.

may god bless you all, so you start seeking for truth today
In Response

by: Abdulmajid
December 16, 2011 12:54
"Savior"!
Ha ha ha indeed
In Response

by: The Truth
December 20, 2011 22:09
Serbs are responsible for 90+ per cent of all war crimes commited in Bosnia as inferred by the CIA.
In Response

by: Ver Ami
January 01, 2012 09:52

What do your gerbils think?
In Response

by: the "true" truth from: EU
January 07, 2012 13:58
truth is out there, freely accessible for anyone who wants "the real" truth...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUuhSGnLvv8

watch this and tell me again who is responsible, dear "the truth" ;)

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