"The Whistleblower" Premier

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The Whistleblower Premier

The film "The Whistleblower" was screened (14 October) at the United Nations (UN) followed by a panel discussion addressing the issue of sex trafficking in post-war Bosnia.

Directed by first time filmmaker Larysa Kondracki, the film also stars Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci and Academy Award nominee David Strathairn.

Inspired by actual events, the Whistleblower tells the story of Kathryn Bolkovac, an American police officer, played by Academy Award-winning Rachel Weisz, who takes a job as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and uncovers a scheme by contractors and peacekeepers who were paying for prostitutes and participating in sex-trafficking.

Kondracki, who spent two years in Europe with co-writer, Eilis Kirwan, researching the subject of trafficking, told UNifeed before the screening that she thought Bolkovac’s story was “remarkable” and not only it shows “how the United Nations works, or doesn’t work” but also through her character portrays both the anti-trafficking community, the UN, and private military contractors, in order to “subtly understand the complexities of the organization.”

Madeleine Rees, who was at the time the Head of the UN human rights office's (OHCHR) Women’s Rights and Gender Unit in Bosnia And Herzegovina and is played by Redgrave in the film, said that “a massive number of women” were trafficked from Romania, Moldova and the Ukraine “to satisfy what was a perceived market, which unfortunately was in fact a real market, which was the peacekeepers.”

Rees pointed out that “there were rumours that there was a problem with trafficking” which were later confirmed. She noted that when you would see UN vehicles parked outside "that’s how you know where the brothels are.”

Kondracki commented on the controversy that arose regarding the UN’s reaction to her film. She said that “what we were hearing was that the UN didn’t want to acknowledge the film and wanted to downplay it, kind of go into damage control, which didn’t really surprise me.”

The director added that thanks to Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms “it did come out in the open” and “that’s why we are here.”

Rees, looking back, expressed a feeling of guilt and said that she keeps thinking whether there was “something else” that could have been done at the time.

She acknowledged that the organization failed “in actually being able to tackle a problem.”

According to Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Kiyo Akasaka, the film highlights several issues high on the agenda of the UN such as human trafficking, violence against women and cross-border organized crime.


Details

Language: English

Year of Production: 2011

Length: 3:00

Country: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Directors:

  • Muhamed Sacirbey (UNTV-Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Producers:

  • Susan Sacirbey (UNTV-Samuel Goldwyn Films)