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Angelina Jolie film gets 'OK' from Bosnian war victims

Angelina Jolie's first directorial effort generated controversy among victims of Bosnia's 1992-95 war early on, but a screening has apparently soothed and encouraged many critics.
/ Source: Reuters

Victims of Bosnia's 1992-95 war had most of their anxieties over a film by Hollywood star Angelina Jolie put to rest at a private screening this week.

Objections to filming Jolie's tale of love between a Serb man and a Muslim woman in Bosnia last year forced the Hollywood star to shoot most of the film in nearby Hungary. Only some of the exterior scenes were shot in Bosnia.

But the Thursday night screening of the film in Sarajevo to representatives of victims' associations elicited positive reactions from some of Jolie's toughest local critics.

"She has made a fantastic film for Bosnia and Herzegovina, I can really say that from the angle of a victim," Murat Tahirovic, the president of Bosnia's association of (wartime) detainees, told the Federal Television in Sarajevo.

Tahirovic was among a dozen representatives of wartime victims invited to the closed screening of Jolie's directorial debut "In The Land of Blood and Honey".

"Everybody should see this film," Tahirovic said.

The award-winning actress and activist is one half of one of Hollywood’s most powerful couples.

In October 2010, a Bosnian minister cancelled Jolie's filming permits citing incomplete paperwork, after female victims of the Bosnian war objected to details of the plot, alleging it was about love between a rapist and his victim.

The film tells a tale of love between a Serb man and a Muslim woman before the Bosnian war, who later meet in different circumstances - he is an army officer and she is his detainee.

Victims of sexual violence in Bosnia wrote to the United Nations refugee agency, saying Jolie did not deserve her role as a UNHCR Good Will Ambassador, and did not know enough about the Bosnian conflict.

Jolie first came to Bosnia last year as an UNHCR ambassador.

She filmed most of the feature in Budapest but asked war victims voicing their objections to the movie to reserve judgment until they had seen the finished product.

One of the loudest opponents to Jolie filming in Bosnia said she was now satisfied by the film's portrayal of the war.

"Two hours of film is not enough time to show all (the horrors of the war), but I think Angelina managed to do it," said Sadzida Hadzic of the Women-Victims of War association.

However, Hatidza Mehmedovic, who lost her husband and two teenage sons in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, said she was disappointed the film was shot elsewhere, even though she congratulated Jolie.

"The film is so strong, so difficult, it would be stronger if it was shot in Bosnia," she told Reuters.

The closed screening was organised by the Center for post-conflict research, and was not open to media.