SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Hercegovina (AFP) ― Sarajevans among the first filmgoers to see Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, a Bosnian wartime love story, came away deeply moved from a special screening in their city Thursday.
“The movie is very realistic, moving and hard to watch for someone who was here during the war. I am very emotional,” Sabira Sokolovic told AFP.
A story of love between a Muslim woman and a Serb man against the background of Bosnia’s 1992-95 inter-ethnic war, the movie sparked controversy in Sarajevo earlier this year when local media speculated it would tell the story of a Muslim rape victim who fell in love with her Serb attacker.
In fact the film tells the story of a couple who had a fling before the war and meet up again when the woman is taken prisoner by a unit of the Bosnian Serb army commanded by her former lover. He shields her at first but is transferred and she suffers the same abuse and rape as the other women held with her.
Brad Pitt (left) and Angelina Jolie, writer and director of the film “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” pose at the premiere in Los Angeles on Dec. 8. (AP-Yonhap News)
The film shows stark scenes of rape, executions and other war crimes.
Many viewers praised the film for its realistic portrayal of the horrors of the war that turned neighbours and friends into enemies when the country’s Muslims, Croats and Serbs were pitted against each other.
“It is a lesson for future generations. Every inhabitant of Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia should see it,” pensioner Seid Karic said.
“The movie is moving because it shows what really happend in Bosnia.”
But not everyone liked the Hollywood treatment.
“The film is a disaster. I did not like it, I was a witness to the siege (of Sarajevo) and it was nothing like that,” thirty-something Elvira, who did not want to give her last name, said after the screening.
“In the Land of Blood and Honey” will be screened twice a day in Sarajevo until Dec. 28 ― two months before it officially opens in Europe.
The international preview took place on Dec. 5 in New York and the movie will open in the United States on Friday. It will go on general release in Europe in early February.
Bosnia’s 1992-95 war claimed some 100,000 lives. Tens of thousands of people were held in prison camps where torture and abuse were commonplace.
Government officials estimate that some 20,000 women were raped during the conflict.