London: Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut set in the Bosnian war has evoked both praise and criticism from Serbs and Bosnian Muslims who have lived through the conflict.
‘In the Land of Blood and Honey’ tells the story of a fictional relationship between a Muslim woman artist and Serbian army officer.
Once romantically involved before the war erupted in April 1992, they are reunited when she is detained in a Serbian internment camp that he commands.
Former Bosnian Muslim war prisoners and relatives of massacre victims, some of them initially critical, lauded In the Land of Blood and Honey after being invited to a private screening to allay earlier fears about the subject matter.
But the leader of a Bosnian Serb prisoners group has slammed the film for its allegedly one-sided depiction of the atrocities and called for it to be banned from the country’s Serbian areas.
Jolie urged critics to reserve judgment until they saw film, which she said was “a love story, not a political statement”.
After the private screening, Hatizda Mehmedovic, the head of an association of mothers of the 8,000 Muslim men and boys massacred at Srebrenica, thanked Jolie for ‘her intellectual and financial investment’.
“The film is so strong, so difficult and it would have been stronger if it was shot in Bosnia,” the Telegraph quoted her as saying.
But Branislav Djukic, who heads the Bosnian Serb Association of Camp Prisoners, had a very different reaction after seeing a trailer.
He said that the film ‘is showing lies’ as it depicts only Serbs as rapists during the war and called for it to be barred from cinemas in the autonomous Serbian half.
“We’ll do our best to ban the film,” he said.
Jolie and the film’s producers are also fighting a lawsuit by Josip Knezevic, a Croatian writer who claims that the film copies the plot of his book The Soul Shattering. He said that he had extensive talks with one of the film’s co-producers.
Jolie has brushed aside the claim and said that it’s ‘par for the course. It happens on almost every film’.