It Ain’t the Movie It’s The Message: THE WHISTLEBLOWER

Rachel Weisz in The Whistleblower – Real Life Horror Stories

This film rocked my world. Literally.

Although I have seen other films/TV movies on the subject none of them have had such an emotional and visceral effect on me.

One critic called the film “overly earnest”.  Perhaps. You couldn’t blame a female filmmaker for feeling intense while listening to Kathyrn Bolkovac’s  real-life horror stories about her tenure as a UN Peacekeeper in post war Bosnia where she discovered, among other things, that some of her male peers were …  well, let me quote from an August 2002 article in  The Times of London: ” UN peacekeepers went to nightclubs where girls as young as 15 were forced to dance naked and have sex with customers … girls who refused to have sex (were) beaten and raped in bars by their pimps while peacekeepers stood and watched … one UN policeman … paid (money) to a bar owner for an underage girl who he kept captive in his apartment to use in his own prostitution racket.”

Director Larysa Kondraki (r.) poses with co-writer Eilis Kirwan at Toronto International Film Fest 2010

If anything, I felt rookie Canadian director Larysa Kondracki (who co-wrote the script with Irish filmmaker Eilis Kirwan) pulled her punches in depicting the brutal treatment inflicted on these young women.

Another critic suggested the film would have been more effective as a  documentary. Maybe. Except the filmmakers would have never been allowed access to the pitiable living conditions endured by the victims and depicted here  (let alone a scene in which a callous bar owner shoots a young girl in the head in a rage.)

I kept telling myself the terrified teenage girls on the screen were actresses. However, the fact that they were representing real life victims and the events depicted were a composite of what really happened in this shameful period in UN history made for startling viewing.

It is especially chilling when the film makes clear that the people associated with these atrocities have never been prosecuted. (UN peacekeepers enjoyed diplomatic immunity and local authorities have proven reluctant to indict their own.)

As for Ms. Bolkovac she was eventually fired by the international firm that had contracted her services. (In spite of writing repeated letters to various officials no one, it seems, wanted to know.)

Ms. Bolkovac in Sarajevo circa 1999 (l.) and as she appears today (r.) Both photos are taken from her home page (www.bolkovac.com)

The film received a 73% approval rating from rottentomatoes.com. Roughly translated that is 81 positive reviews and 30 negative reviews. 

It should be noted the large majority of the reviewers polled are male and almost all of them seem to focus on the filmmaking at the expense of the messages imbedded in the movie: that a) this was a stomach-churning series of events that went largely unpunished and unheralded and b) this type of sexual slavery is still going on today. 

Frankly, I thought the comments of  “Super Reviewer”  Letitia L. summed up the film best. While it may not win any awards for filmmaking, in her opinion, The Whistleblower   ” had a crucial story to tell and told it effectively. I need to look up Kathy Bolkovac now. Reminds me of my purpose in life, to fight for respect for womankind.  Weisz is solid as usual, playing the rock-steady female lead. Everyone involved in the movie makes me proud.” 

PS  Ms. Kondracki was nominated for Best Achievement in Direction at the 2011 Genie Awards and shared a nomination with  co-writer Eilis Kirwan in the Best Original Screenplay category. (The Genies are Canada’s answer to the Oscars.)


Advertisements

2 comments

  1. The sad thing beyond people STILL not getting the message from a movie like this is that, it doesn’t just happen to third world countries, and it doesn’t just happen to women. This disease called human perversion knows no bounds, has no form of racism, it just keeps taking souls and leaving walking dead, or physical death behind.

  2. While doing some research of the subject, ,motivated mainly by the subject matter of The Whistleblower I discovered young men are also at risk from human traffickers. But I agree with you, Ms. H. Man’s inhumanity to man boggles my mind, And you’re right, “human perversion” has no boundaries. It is one of the underlying causes of many of our societal ills – past and present.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s