An obsession animates him: to understand. The star is committed to refugees in conflict areas. As a theme for her first film, she chose the Bosnian War, from Los Angeles to Sarajevo, a meeting between an actress and a reporter.
Angelina Jolie advances on the stage, her hand on her chest, her voice trembling, holding back her tears. “It means so much to say to me … Share this film with you …” Before her five thousand Bosnians standing for many as touched it, some crying, applauding. The screening of The Land of Blood and Honey in this Zetra Olympic Hall, surrounded by the cemeteries of war, is a triumph.
Angelina Jolie presents in Sarajevo, this 14th of February, her first film as a screenwriter and director. A hard, bitter war film that reviews the crimes perpetrated by the Serbian army in Bosnia and Herzegovina, declared “crimes against humanity” by international justice.
The story tells the story of two young Sarajéviens who loved each other before the war: Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) is a Muslim prisoner in a camp where women are systematically raped by soldiers. Danijel (Goran Kostic) is the commander of this prison camp. The film, well documented, shows the worst episodes of “ethnic cleansing”: deportation and assassination of the civilian population, prison camps, rapes, siege of Sarajevo and sniper enthusiasm, killing from Srebrenica.
The main question that the Sarajevans asked themselves after the first one could be formulated as follows: why Angelina Jolie, who was 17 years old when the war ignited Bosnia-Herzegovina in the spring of 1992 and is, at 36, the actress the most famous Hollywood, has she decided to make her first film about the worst horrors of a war now almost forgotten, a film shot in the Bosnian language, with actors from the former Yugoslavia?
There is a mystery Angelina Jolie. A mystery masked by a film star’s life, by the family she trains with actor Brad Pitt and their six children, by the glamorous covers of magazines and the delusions of the tabloids. And a mystery that UN communiqués that retrace his travels do not necessarily reveal, hardly encouraging the reporter to attend , in Kabul or Baghdad, at his press conferences.
From the first meeting, however, the hotel L’Ermitage Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, two weeks before the first sarajévienne, it seems to find the side of a character often crossed on war courses: the compassionate humanitarian, confident in his convictions and helpless in the face of the suffering of the world. The militant with the noble heart.
There are actually, it seems, two Angelina Jolie. One, born June 4, 1975, grew up in Los Angeles with her mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, who devoted her life to educating her children after the departure of father, actor Jon Voight. This Angelina has followed a path considered, in his universe, as royal: a leading role at the top of the bill at 20, an Oscar at 24 for A stolen life , a shattering entry into the world of stars, with roles in Lara Croft or Mr & Mrs Smith , to more interesting appearances, earning him multiple prizes, in Michael Winterbottom’s Unbeaten Heart or The Clint Eastwood Exchange .
The other Angelina Jolie started life at age 25, discovering an unsuspected world. “The first time I went to a war zone in Sierra Leone, I completely changed …” The trigger was the shooting of Lara Croft in Cambodia in 2000. “We were one of the first shootings since the end of the war, and I was expecting to meet very angry people, instead I met … Cambodians, the most adorable people on the planet, I met with former refugees back from exile, and I understood what this war had been like, which was barely mentioned in my history books. ”
“I said to myself,” There is so much to learn about the real world, that my education has not allowed me to learn. “At the time I lived in London and the British press covered the war in Sierra Leone I was very moved by this conflict and when I came back I bought all the books about humanitarian organizations, the UN, refugee and mine issues, and I learned about the role of the Office of the High Commissioner United Nations Refugees (UNHCR) during the Rwandan exodus, then in the assistance to “twenty million Cambodians.” I told myself: “Twenty million! How is it possible ? Why does not anyone talk about it? “I was shocked.” Angelina Jolie serves tea,”The next morning I called the UNHCR and I said,” You do not know me, I’m an actress, would you want me to come to me to present your Washington office, and if you trust me would you help me go to Sierra Leone at my expense? I want to begin to m ‘ education . “After a series of meetings, I left in February 2001. It was so brutal to discoverthese amputated kids who had been given the choice between “short sleeves or long sleeves” [amputation at the shoulder or elbow]. Then I went to Tanzania and saw for the first time a gigantic refugee camp, where 500,000 people lived. When I returned home, I simply became a very different person. ” The second Angelina Jolie, the one who chooses her life, begins to travelanywhere in the world where there is need for attention. After Sierra Leone and Tanzania, she returns to Cambodia, then goes to Pakistan. She has made about 50 trips around the world for the past ten years, most often in countries at war or facing humanitarian disasters, including forty missions for UNHCR. She developed special passions for Cambodia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and now Bosnia. In 2011, she became interested in the Arab revolt movement, and traveled to Tunisia, Libya, and the borders of Syria.
Marie-Noëlle Little-Boyer, a humanitarian man she met in Thailand, who became one of her friends and now looks after her activities at the UNHCR, testifies at a meeting the following week in Geneva: “In Cambodia She has opened her eyes, and since her trip to Sierra Leone, she has been meeting refugees.In the beginning, Angie did not want to talk to governments or the press, and take the time to deepenhis knowledge. Then she developed her political judgment. She listens to the refugees for hours and hours, she identifies the problems, and these stories become the basis of her interventions. She became one of our colleagues. She reads, she works, she never stops. She wants to learn, to understand , and now to find solutions. ”
High Commissioner Antonio Guterres, a few days later, sent us this message: “I met Angelina Jolie for the first time in Pakistan in 2005. I discovered not only her deep knowledge humanitarian issues but also her remarkable understanding of the regional context – I knew she was a dedicated humanitarian, traveling the world for the refugee cause, but her responses that day to Islamabad, at a press conference, were thorny and complicated questions revealed to me a razor-sharp intelligence combined with true wisdom. ”
In front of UNHCR’s executive committee in October 2011, Guterres suggests that Angelina Jolie, until now a “goodwill ambassador”, will change her role, which will be formalized soon: ” We are going to ask you to to do even more and we will count on your commitment, your diplomatic skill, your vision and your insight on how to solve the most complex problems we face with the international community. ” We are far from the role generally assigned to celebrities spawning with the humanitarian world, confined to public relations and appeals for donations.
In ten years, Jolie has become in a world where first aid to have met with his sublime silhouette, its wild charm, have probably watched with a smile sly. The amputees from Freetown or the refugees from the mountains of Cambodia had not seen Lara Croft . And they apparently took this woman for what she had decided to become : a determined activist for their future support.
Angelina Jolie quickly took the stuff. “When I started working with UNHCR, I had a moment of dreaming about becoming a humanitarian on the ground and leaving the cinema, but my particular situation makes me more useful when I come back to the United States to talk to the State Department, the Pentagon, members of Congress. ” Humanitarians who receive it in the countries where they are on mission have also got to know Angelina Jolie. They tended, in the first years, to prepare hima standardized program, as for a political leader or ordinary people, with a tour of their most successful achievements, of all that goes well. Visits canceled on his order from his arrival in this or that country, to go on the contrary to confront what is wrong, listen to those who suffer, and try to solve their problems.
She is now actively involved in diplomatic activities for UNHCR, and has joined the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the most influential American think tanks on international issues. “I try not to go from crisis to crisis, but to go back to the same places, to carry out targeted actions, discreet diplomacy, to change laws.” Resembling almost the old field workers, she is reluctant to give clarification. “Let’s say I’ve had situations where things were locked in. I do not want to give details, that’s how it works, by not attributing the merit and gaining the trust of its interlocutors.
She is also passionate about international justice, which, after the tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Cambodia, is exercised at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. ” I went to the Lubanga trial [a Congolese warlord]. We can always bring assistance to the victims, but in the end, stop a guy like him in the Congo and the lead in The Hague, show that it s “It will not do so easily after its crimes, it is an extraordinary message, the best message, this threat must exist .” She is a strong advocate for the recognition of the International Criminal Court by Washington.”European countries have signed the treaty, the US still does not, I think the ICC is a very useful institution, it’s the kind of global leadership we need.”
Angelina Jolie takes care not to stigmatize the men in arms that her country has sent to fight for a decade. She is interested as much in the American soldiers as in the Afghan and Iraqi civilian victims. “I am the friend of every American who risks his life, whether he believes in this war, in a cause, or not.On my travels for the UN, I often visit the troops.I am American and they are American soldiers, they are waging an unpopular war, but they are young guys who are risking their lives, seeing their friends die , and I have a deep respect for them. ”
Angelina Jolie also conducts personal humanitarian activities. She created two associations in Cambodia, where she adopted her first child, Maddox, one dedicated to environmental protection in the province of Battambang, the other who cares for children with AIDS and tuberculosis. Phnom Penh. She created the Jolie-Pitt Foundation, which supports humanitarian causes around the world. The couple has an environmental protection program in Namibia, where their first biological daughter Shiloh was born, and they will open a children’s clinic similar to that of Phnom Penh in Ethiopia, where they adopted their daughter Zahara. “We are trying to buildthis kind of place in every country where our children are born, so that when they grow up, they are connected in a responsible way. We are still thinking about what we will do in Vietnam [where they adopted their son Pax Thien]. And I imagine that it will also be necessary to think , one day, of France [where were born their twins Knox Léon and Vivienne Marcheline]. ” She laughed.
Thus, more than her life as an actress, it is this political course of ten years that led her to realize In the land of blood and honey . Angelina Jolie, whose real life began at the age of 25, has finally reconciled commitment and cinema. “I felt that I needed to know more about this Bosnian war, even after ten years of traveling, talking to people, I did not understand this war, I had a Christmas in Kosovo, but it was confused. I read a lot, watched documentaries, then I went to Bosnia, go visit families who told me about the war. ”
She listens for hours to survivors of prison camps, women raped. Two scenes from the film, one in which the prisoners are used as human shields during a fight and the other where old women are forced to strip and dance in front of the soldiers, are inspired by direct testimony. She also has access to a protected witness of The Hague court, a Muslim Bosnian who, as in the film, lived a love affair with a Serb soldier and then testified against him.
She returns from Bosnia very marked by the absence of international intervention during the war, and by the crimes committed against women. The toll of the war is estimated at 100,000, including more than 10,000 in besieged Sarajevo, in the eyes of the world. The record of rape is uncertain, as not all women have reported aggression. The UN says that 50,000 to 60,000 women have been raped, the Bosnian government confirms 20,000 reported rapes.
“I wrote this script in one month, without knowing that I was going to make a film, and then I told myself that I was going to show it to people from different communities, Bosniacs, Serbs, Croats, and that if by miracle everyone would agree to make this film, then I will do it. ”
“I first sent him to Rade Serbedzija,” the only actor from ex-Yugoslavia famous in Hollywood, where he played in shutters of Mission Impossible, Harry Potter and X-Men, as well as in The Holy or Eyes Wide Shut. “I knew he was away from any film about the former Yugoslavia, so I figured he’d be an ideal person to work with, and if he accepted, then it would be fine.” Rade Serbedzija, one actor and singer very popular in his country in the 1970s and 1980s, a Yugoslav who never managed to feel “Serb of Croatia”, according to the new expressions in force, has, since the first tensions, taken positions fiercely antinationalists that have earned himreceive death threats that convinced him to go into exile.
Both actors speak of the scenario, including the character should play Serbedzija, the Serbian general Nebojsa Vukojevic, who is not without reminding the Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, who is awaiting trial for “crimes against humanity” in The Hague. The character is extraordinarily faithful to what Mladic and his generals were, with this mixture of anti-Ottoman and anticroate historical delirium and apparent bonhomie bathed in slibovica, the plum brandy. These men who committed the worst wave of war crimes that Europe has known since the Second World War.
Angelina Jolie then makes castings throughout the former Yugoslavia, erasing her name from the screenplay, so as not to skew the reactions by her celebrity. “I thought it was a Bosnian or a foreigner who had lived through the war that had written it, it was so authentic!” Recalls Zana Marjanovic, the lead actress, who met with the other actors in Sarajevo, then to Paris. “I immediately felt that the script had been written by a stranger, I found it objective and brutal, and for once, unlike Bosnian filmmakers, someone was not wearing gloves to talk about this war! I was in shock, ” says Vanesa Glodjo, the supporting female role.”I was overwhelmed by emotions, the scenario was so strong,” says Goran Kostic, the main actor, who plays an officer who has become a war criminal against his will, out of family loyalty, because he is the General Vukojevic’s son and that he feels he has no other choice.
These three actors are all children from Sarajevo, with very different backgrounds. Zana Marjanovic lived during the war in exile, before returning to Bosnia ten years ago. Vanesa Glodjo lived in the siege of Sarajevo, during which she made her way between bombs and sniper fire to get to her acting classes.
Goran Kostic left Sarajevo shortly before the war for London. His father, a Serbian officer, served in Mladic’s army. “He did not commit war crimes, but he can not tell his grandchildren that he led a just war. As for me, if I returned, my first reaction would have been to join the Bosnian army, which was originally multiethnic and defended Sarajevo. ” Against the Serb army, where his father served. “Not coming back was the right decision,” Goran Kostic said.
Her troupe met, Angelina Jolie turns her film in Bosnia and Hungary. It is there, in the direction of actors as much as in the research carried out before the writing of the scenario, that in the country of blood and honey takes its Bosnian color. “I directed the film with the actors and they guided me by telling me about their culture, their lives.” There is a scene where Vanesa Glodjo decides to brave the firing to get some medicine. “How can I imagine that I can lead Vanesa, who experienced this situation during the war?” She directs me. ” Angelina Jolie admires these actors in Sarajevo.”There’s a big difference between me and Vanesa, and I went to my comedy classes here in Los Angeles, driving my car quietly, and she ran along Sniper Alley. another kind of comedian, of passion. ”
Filming completed, Angelina Jolie continues her research. She calls the journalist Tom Gjelten, from the US National Public Radio, who covered the Bosnian war. “I found the scenes very true, the film is very authentic, says Gjelten, Angie asked me to write the three radio reports that we hear in the film in the background, she asked me to insist on the fact that the international community had not intervened. ” In the land of blood and honeyreleased in December 2011 in the United States, in two versions, Bosnian and English, each scene having been shot in both languages. Angelina Jolie takes care to show it also in Sarajevo to associations of victims of war. A projection also intended to extinguish a controversy, the association Victims of war having obtained a moment a ban on filming on the pretext that the film evokes a love story between a raped woman and her rapist, which is not the case. The authorization to film was again granted three days later, after sending the scenario.
Before the premiere of Sarajevo, another controversy is gaining momentum. Without anyone having seen it, the film is described as “anti-Serbian” by the Serbian press and the authorities of Banja Luka, the seat of the Serbian Republic of Bosnia. The Belgrade newspaper Kurir denounces “the anti-Bishops prejudices” of the director. The filmmaker Emir Kusturica, a child from Sarajevo who has become a fierce Serbian nationalist since his departure from Serbia, where he changed his name from Emir to a Nemanja of Serbian origin and converted to the Orthodox religion, decrees that Angelina Jolie is a pro-Bosnian propagandist .
The tone is set. In Banja Luka, Labor Minister Petar Djokic says that “Angelina Jolie is used to attack the Serbian Republic, to reject the shame of the war on the Serbs, how can the Serbs be criminals? was paid dear to affirm that. ” the distributor in the Serb Republic, Vladimir Ljevar, Oscar films, prevents the government to pronounce the ban demanded by some deciding not to broadcast the film. “This film will not be shown in Banja Luka Who would want to see this bastard here?”
Arrival in Sarajevo, Angelina Jolie gives a press conference at the Café Viennois of the Europa Hotel, a place where hundreds of refugees were pounded with incendiary bombs during the war. Bosnian Serb journalists harass her with questions. She defends herself. “I am not an anti-bastard, and my film is not anti-bastard, it is sad that this question is still asked today.” The filmmaker of Sarajevo Danis Tanovic, Oscar winner for No Man’s Land , who leads the meeting, intervenes. “The only anti that I see in this film is maybe he’s anti-war.”
A journalist asks the filmmaker why the film provokes Serbs’ anger if it is “balanced”, as she often says. “But the war was not balanced,” replies Angelina Jolie, ” When I use this word, I mean that it is fair, true to the facts, and that it is not black and white, which it transcribes. a complexity. ” She announces that, in the face of calls to declare her persona non grata, she cancels the first scheduled in Belgrade. She later confided that her decision was guided both by her desire to “not be exploited in an election year in Serbia” , and because “some actors living in Serbia have received threats”
On the evening of the first, the Sarajevo elite mixes with the thousands of people for whom Angelina Jolie has reserved tickets: members of associations of prisoners, raped women, widows. The cause is almost heard in advance. Serb attacks have exacerbated the public ‘s desire to love the film. What is saddened by the filmmaker Srdjan Vuletic. ” Some hate the movie without seeing it, and others love it without seeing it, which shows how stale we are still … This film could have been an excellent platform for a dialogue on Instead, I fear it will become a tool for all nationalists. ”
Many, however, sincerely loved the film, as evidenced by the knotted voices and red eyes, and the long standing ovation. Social Democrat Party leader Zlatko Lagumdzija is so upset that he can not speak at first, for fear of bursting into tears. Later, he will say that “on a scale of 100, this film is 101. It is both personal and universal, as Angelina Jolie rightly said, that’s what we endured, and that’s what we survived. ” Filmmaker Ademir Kenovic raises his arms to heaven.”This film is so strong, all the analysis would be absurd, it’s a symbol of the horrors of the war, made by someone who has immense sensitivity, it throws us these monstrosities in the face, and also throws that to the The world is so strong! ” Even a filmmaker like Pjer Zalica, who did not like the film from a cinematographic point of view, asks the same question as everyone else: why did Angelina Jolie does this movie? “I wonder, and I see only one possible answer: she must be an extraordinary woman!” The following day, during a meeting at the Holiday Inn, the hotel of the reporters during the war, that she wants to discover, Angelina Jolie gives the impression of being already in the future . “What could I do tohelp Bosnia? ” If she asks. Activist gets over on the director, and nothing seems insurmountable to him. It is aware that the country is paralyzed by the Dayton peace agreement that ended the war in 1995 but sanctuarized the ethnic division, Bosnia will not evolve until there is constitutional change. “If the Dayton Agreement does not work, then it needs to be improved . We can not wash our hands and forget this country. ” She recently met with US President Barack Obama, ” to talk about the region, what these people have been going through, to keep an eye on it. “Angelina Jolie is deeply, viscerally interventionist. She believes in traveling the world to help people talk to each other . She believes in diplomacy. And when diplomacy fails to prevent carnage, it is convinced that sometimes armed intervention is required. “If I had been a reporter during the siege of Sarajevo, I do not even imagine how frustrated I would have been, angry that no one intervenes to save the inhabitants, I think I would have lost my mind and would have been angry forever. ” Just before the presentation of The Land of Blood and Honey in Sarajevo, she linked her film to the situation in Syria:”If this film shows anyone the finger is the international community, and with what is happening in Syria, I hope it will represent a cry of alarm.” In Zagreb, she called more explicitly to an intervention, during an interview with Al-Jazeera. “Unfortunately, we have reached a point in Syria, where some form of intervention is absolutely necessary, what is going on there is so sad, so shocking, so horrible, everything must be done to prevent civilians When we witness this mass violence and these murders, we must act . ”
The opposition of China and Russia to a UN resolution should not, she said, prohibit to react . “I strongly believe that the use of the veto at the UN in case of financial interest in a country or against a humanitarian intervention must be called into question.”
So goes Angelina Jolie, committed, passionate. She has no immediate plans for any other accomplishment, but in Los Angeles, she said she had “written something” . The war, always. “It’s about Afghanistan, the gap between American soldiers and Afghan civilians, their lives so different, but I have not shown it to anyone yet, I do not know if it’s the right time …” ” Angelina Jolie gives the impression of drawing a path, without knowing exactly where it will lead. “At the end of the day, I’m just a citizen of the world, ” she says.I have a mixed family, I have several passports, I go where I can go, I speak with who wants to talk to me, I try to build bridges, to listen, to learn … I am still young, but I certainly become less patient with the idea of bringing some help here or there. There is goodwill, but few global solutions. It takes big decisions to really make a difference … I would like to be present only when there is a crisis, I would like to prevent crises. ” And if Angelina Jolie, humble and pragmatic for all those who meet her, was actually pursuing the foolish dream of saving the world, and if that was her, her mystery, and the life she chose for herself?”I do not know where I am the best, am I better at diplomacy, or do I have to be more involved in politics, or do I have to stay an artist, I’m still learning, seeing where is my place, and where I am most effective. “