Bosnia-Herzegovina, Feb 14: Angelina Jolie's new movie—a love story set against the genocide of Bosnia's war—will be shown in Sarajevo for the first time on Tuesday, but it already has touched off anger left over from the conflict.
Muslim Bosniaks have said they expect “In the Land of Blood and Honey” to focus on their plight during the brutal 1992-1995 war. But the distributor in the Serb part of Bosnia said he won't show it there because it portrays Serbs as the villains and they wouldn't put up with that.
The screening—which Jolie plans to attend—will show a fictional movie about a romance that develops between a Bosnian Serb man and a Bosnian Muslim woman, and what happens when he becomes an army officer and she is held in a military prison camp where atrocities such as rape occur.
About 5,000 people are expected at the debut in Sarajevo, and the movie also will be shown in theaters in the Bosniak-Croat part of the country.
But the sole film distributor in the Serb-run part of Bosnia said Serbs don't want to see it.
For that reason, Vladimir Ljevar told The Associated Press, “In the Land of Blood and Honey” will not be shown in Bosnian Serb movie theaters.
“There is simply no interest for this movie here, so I can't sell any tickets,” he said. “The fact that the Serbs are the bad guys in it is the reason why there is no interest. The film is lousy. I watched it. It has had bad reviews. It is unprofitable.”
Thousands of women were raped during Bosnia's war, which also included the notorious Srebrenica massacre in July 1995 and the 44-month siege of the capital, Sarajevo. Most of the rape victims were Muslim Bosniak women, often the target of mass rape used as a weapon of terror.
Many of the victims were raped repeatedly. Some were brought back to their homes and dumped in front of their husbands. Other women were violated in their husbands' presence as part of a shock campaign.
So a group of Muslim Bosniaks who now have returned to their homes in the Serb part of the country say they are interested in seeing Jolie's movie and plan to organize private screenings once they make a deal with some other distributor from the region.
Zinaida Mahmuljin of the northwestern town of Kozarac said people there are willing to pay for the screening equipment and show it in the local town's community center.
“There is interest here among the returnees,” she said, denying Ljevar's claims about the movie. “What are we here? Thin air?”
Together with others in Kozarac, Mahmuljin plans to screen the movie next week.
More than 27,000 people lived there before the war, but the population is now down to about 8,000, she said. The notorious Serb prison camps Omarska and Keraterm are not far from Kozarac, and many townspeople were prisoners there during the war, she said.
Murder, torture, rape and other abuses were common at the two camps during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague has convicted several Bosnian Serbs of persecution and cruel treatment of Muslim Bosniaks.
So many people died in those camps that it is hard to find any Muslim family in Kozarac that did not lose someone there, Mahmuljin said. Her father was killed in Omarska and her mother survived torture there.
“But we need to move forward, and we won't do that if we don't talk about what happened,” she said.
“During the Second World War, Serbs of this area were the victims and that was swept under the carpet,” she said referring to the many Serbs who died in the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia,” Mahmuljin said. “In this war, the Bosniaks were the victims. It is time we all sit down and talk about it.”