Angelina Jolie's movie ignites war of words


Bloggers engage online in support of and against Angelina Jolie's movie "In the Land of Blood and Honey".

By Drazen Remikovic and Ivana Jovanovic for Southeast European Times in Banja Luka, Sarajevo, and Belgrade -- 10/03/12


Angelina Jolie attended the Sarajevo premiere of her movie "In the Land of Blood and Honey". [Haris Memija/SETimes]

The premiere of Angelina Jolie's movie "In the Land of Blood and Honey" has caused a storm of reactions across the region, re-igniting the ongoing debate about who were the victims and who the aggressors during the 1992-95 conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

The movie is a love story between a Bosniak woman and a Serbian policeman. The love affair abruptly ends with the start of the conflict but the two reconnect -- he as a Serbian officer and she as a concentration camp prisoner.

The movie won praise in Sarajevo, where more than 5,000 people attended the premiere at Zetra Hall. Ever since, movie tickets have been hard to obtain.

It was not shown in Republika Srpska. Movie distributor and Banja Luka cinema owner Vladimir Ljevak explained to SETimes there was "lack of interest among the audience".

The film has also caused sparring on many blogs and discussion forums.

BiH's Islamic Community leader Mustafa Ceric described the movie as "the best thing that happened to Bosnia after the Dayton Peace Agreement".

Many Serbian bloggers however, argued the film is propagandistic and political. "I already learned what it is about, in principle ... it is anti-Serbian," Mile Sumadinac said, vowing not to see it.

Some seemed to be influenced by the outcry. "I have not watched it yet, but according to the cheering in Sarajevo and the rest of the world, I am not interested," said Veselin Gatalo, a Serbian writer from Mostar.

Others viewed the Serbian bloggers' reactions as justification of the movie's portrayal of the BiH conflict. "The truth is like a finger in the eye. Always a big pain," Beg Marley said.

"It is crazy the movie is not shown throughout BiH. Everyone here knows what happened during the war. I do not see how anyone can be angry about the historical facts," Sarajevo resident Almir Mudresa, who watched the movie, told SETimes.

Yet, some, like Croatian writer Vedrana Rudan, characterised the film -- angrily and with vulgarities -- as being part of a US conspiracy.

"What normal person believes Jolie is a movie director? How can a serious profession be insulted like this? ... But coming to the region to sell us a story about the 'bad guys' and a 'good Serbian people' is much easier. More precisely, it is desirable," she said.

Rudan's blog generated 800 comments as well as media coverage, prompting her to issue an Open Letter to My Readers, taking pains to explain her position in a watered-down version of the text.

Another writer, Boris Dezulovic, explored the power of perceptions and noted that only a few months ago, FBiH's war veterans, religious authorities and culture minister spoke against Jolie upon hearing the movie features a depiction of rape.

"Now ... they awarded her the 'Golden Lily' medal," Dezulovic said.

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At the premiere in Belgrade, only 12 people attended and three left the theatre mid-showing.

"Is it possible that such a movie is being shown?" Milutin asked.

Some Serbian bloggers argued the 12 viewers are not indicative of the interest in Jolie's movie.

"Usually, there are two or three visitors at movie projections in Serbian cinemas. Cinemas in Serbia died at the beginning of this century because of piracy," Floyd said.

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