American movie star Angelina Jolie is making her directorial debut with a film set during Bosnia's civil war in the 1990s. In an exclusive interview with VOA's Bosnian service, Jolie says the message of the film, titled In the Land of Blood and Honey, is one of tolerance and understanding.
Angelina Jolie is used to being in front of the camera. But for her latest project, the Academy Award-winning actress stepped behind it... and into the brutality of wartime Bosnia.
"The more I learned about it and the more I read about it, the more angry I got about the lack of intervention," Jolie says, "the more emotional I was about the violence against women. 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."
Jolie wrote as well as directed In the Land of Blood and Honey. It is a love story between a Muslim woman and a Serb man during Bosnia-Herzogovina's bloody, three-year ethnic conflict.
Jolie says she hopes the film sparks discussion about the war and Bosnia's continued struggle since the 1995 peace agreement.
"I want people to remember Bosnia, and I want them to remember what happened, and I want them to pay respect to all of the people who survived, and today, to remember that this country still has so much healing to do,” she explains.
As a United Nations goodwill ambassador, the mother of six and partner to Brad Pitt often brings her influence as an actress to global issues. But this time is different.
"This film is the first time that these worlds have collided for me," Jolie says, "so this film means more to me than any film I’ve ever made."
A film festival in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo honored Jolie earlier this year, despite initial criticism from Bosnian sexual violence victims and a lawsuit alleging she stole plot pieces from a book.
She credits her Bosnian cast and war victims, organizations and officials she consulted with the result.
"It’s not an American film made about Bosnia. It’s a film made with one American and many Bosnians and many people from the area, and we made it together," she says.
In the Land of Blood and Honey opens in U.S. theaters on December 23. It has two versions: one in English, the other in the Bosnian language.