Angelina Jolie is known more for being the sexier half of Brangelina and her patchwork family, but her luscious lips and film projects are a close second. The latest controversy regarding the actress’s directorial debut flick in Bosnia is about a Muslim woman.
The yet-to-be-titled film is set in Bosnia on the eve of the 1992 Bosnian war, where war crimes and ethnic cleansing left more than 100,000 dead and thousands missing. Many Bosnian-Muslim women were raped by Serbian soldiers; rape was used as a strategic weapon of war. You can find a timeline of Bosnia’s recent and tumultuous history in this Telegraph article.
A focal point in Jolie’s film is a love affair between a Bosnian woman and a Serbian man. Jolie has asked critics to “hold judgment” until the film is released, but rumors have been spreading like wildfire. One claims there is an inter-ethnic rape scene, and there have been objections from women who were sexually assaulted during the conflict: According to the article in Telegraph, “Jolie was accused by two victims’ associations of attempting to ‘falsify the historic truth about the crimes of mass gang rapes of Bosnian women’ by Serbian forces during the war.” Bakira Hasecic, President of the Bosnian Women Victims of War Association, has criticized the subject matter claiming that the plot of the film focuses on the lead female character is essentially “falling in love with her torturer.”
Jolie and her producers insist the film does not depict rape, but rather features a young couple separated by war. Still, the controversy prompted the Bosnian government to withdraw Jolie’s film permit, and she has since moved the as-yet-untitled picture to Hungary.
Speaking with MTV News, Jolie said that, “There are many twists in the plot that address the sensitive nature of the relationship between the main characters and that will be revealed once the film is released.”
She says she intends to portray the horrifying details of war, but she has no intension of showing a twisted love story, acknowledging that “the wounds of people are still unhealed.”
“A couple that maybe would have lived a certain life, had the war not begun, end up having a very different story because of the war.”
Lovers torn apart by war? That’s a story not foreign to Hollywood, and the unfortunate reality of many Muslim women around the globe, who have lost more than one loved one.
Jolie’s film seems like it will call attention to the war crimes and ethnic cleansing that took place in Bosnia, while drawing modern-day parallels about the international communities’ relationship with Muslim populations. Plus, she is making an effort to be balanced: according to her producers, she plans to meet with Bosnian rape victims who have voiced protests.
In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Edin Sarkic of Scout Film, who’s serving as executive producer, said, “Angelina will come to Sarajevo and she will talk to the women. She will explain everything to them and they will understand that they have nothing to worry about…She is a goodwill ambassador. She loves this country.”
Well, I speak for myself when I say: here’s one Muslim woman who loves you right back, Angie!