News / Arts & Entertainment

Hollywood Films Focus on Women Abused in Bosnian War

Zana Marjanovic in a scene from
Zana Marjanovic in a scene from " In the Land of Blood and Honey "

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

Angelina Jolie makes her directing debut with a powerful drama set amid the "ethnic cleansing" of the Bosnian War. The drama, and another film on the atrocities in Bosnia, are drawn from true stories of brutality toward women in that 1990's conflict.





"Who were you …before the war?" asks Serbian commander Danijel of his captive, a Muslim woman named Ajila from Sarajevo. Their complicated relationship plays out during In The Land of Blood and Honey, written and directed by actress and human rights activist Angelina Jolie.

"I just wanted to tell a story about human beings from all sides and how war affects them," explains Jolie.

Her visits to refugee camps and war zones as United Nations goodwill ambassador motivated Jolie to research and write the script about the systematic rapes and murders during the Bosnian conflict.

Angelina Jolie talks about
Angelina Jolie talks about "In The Land of Blood And Honey"

"When I started to look into it and I traveled to the region, I felt that I should have known more. This was in my generation and how do I not know enough? And why did it take us so long? Then at some point there was this script and it just sat on my desk for a while until Brad saw it one day and convinced me to show it to somebody and try," Jolie says.

'Brad,' of course, is her husband and fellow celebrity, Brad Pitt. Concerned that it might appear to be a Hollywood star's 'vanity' project, Jolie kept her name off the script that was initially sent to cast members like Zana Marjanovic, who plays Ajila.

"I think, first of all, that it's a very truthful representation of Bosnia. I am from a mixed marriage," notes Marjanovic.  "A lot of my friends are. And it's about all these beautiful things that could have happened between these people and the war made it impossible. That's actually my personal feeling toward the country where I was born and where I live now."

Serbian actors play the militia men who brutalize their Muslim women captives. Goran Kostic co-stars as Danijel, the troubled commander and Ajila's lover. He says his character does not represent all Serbians.

"The guilt is individual. We can not possibly blame a side and say all of the Serbs are the same or vice versa. I think everybody understands the nature of conflict, that no side is a clean side or the 'right' side. But we as artists have a duty to criticize ourselves, and I would expect that other artists from different groups in different countries would have the same strength and courage to criticize themselves."



In The Land of Blood and Honey
is not the only cinematic portrayal of brutality against women during the Bosnian War. As If I Am Not There is based on a novel by Croatian journalist Slavenka Drakulic. It was made into a film by Irish writer-director Juanita Wilson.

"I think there are so many people living with the devastating consequences that it will take a long time for it to heal," Wilson says, "but I firmly believe that telling stories is a really important part of healing and until people have that voice and can portray what has happened to them, that there never will be any understanding between any of us on this planet."

Like Wilson, Jolie hopes her film can help bring understanding.

"I hope it brings dialogue in the region and around the world …and that people remember this time," Jolie says. "Many people who have seen the film said to me 'I feel ashamed' and there are many people who should."

Angelina Jolie's In The Land of Blood and Honey is currently at American theaters. Juanita Wilson's As If I Am Not There is Ireland's submission for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”