A movie based on the romance between a Serbian policeman and a Muslim woman set in the early days of the Bosnian war has been shunned at the movie's premiere in Belgrade. An artistic attempt at the reconciliation of the old Balkan enemies failed the test.
It seems that Angelina Jolie has painfully upset the Balkan ghosts.
While Bosnian Muslims celebrate her as a goddess of the art (5000 people cheered Jolie at premiere of the film in Sarajevo ) the Serbs crucify her on the media cross of shame. They want neither her nor her film.
Overnight, the popular American actress became "persona non grata " in Serbia .
A small Balkan nation still carrying the historical burden of Milosevic's bloody dictatorship considers Angelina a new, albeit small, but very important screw in the Hollywood "anti-Serbian" machinery propagating the Hollywood saga of Serbs as bad guys in the American movies -- guys that shot, killed and raped while others sat innocently waiting to be the victims.
Angelina's one-sided vision of the Bosnian tragedy again puts salt on never fully healed wounds in relations between Serbian Christians and Bosnian Muslims.
Ms. Jolie cried over the cruel fate of Muslim women in Sarajevo's brothels, but shed no tears for any of the Serbian women raped in the 15 registered Bosnian brothels headed by Muslims and Croats. If she had seriously investigated the UN archive that is accessible to her as a United Nations Ambassador of Peace she would have surely found the information in the document marked as A/47/813 S/24991 and dated December 18, 1992.
No tears for the three Serbian daughters of Milan Mitric -- ages 12, 13, 14 -- raped in front of their father by Bosnian Muslim Alija Selimagic. Following this he slaughtered them. Maybe the film would go in another direction if she had watched killer's confession .
Angelina openly admits she could not follow the principle of victims' equality in her movie. Responding to charges that the film was unbalanced she replied :
"The fact is the war was not balanced. I could not make a film where it's 50/50, because that's simply inaccurate to what happened."
In seeking an Oscar she willingly accepted participation in a well-known numbers game, quoting the figure of 50,000 raped Muslim women as crucial inspiration for the movie. If she researched the origin of the information she would find that number was "a creative act" of Newsweek's contributor Tom Post.
According to Sara Flounders of the International Action Center, "Tom Post, a contributor to the article, explained that the estimate of 50,000 rapes was based on interviews with 28 women."
It was not the only report that falsely accused Serbs of mass raping of Muslim women based on a few testimonies.
The Warburton Report authorized by the European Community estimated 20,000 Muslim women had been raped as part of a Serb strategy of conquest. Thanks to Simone Veil, a former French minister and president of the European Parliament it was revealed that the estimate of 20,000 victims was based on interviews with only four victims -- two women and two men."
French reporter Jeromy Bone explained the mechanism of the "mass raping" project:
When I was 50 kilometers from Tuzla, I heard: 'Go to the Tuzla gymnasium, there are 4,000 raped women.' At 20 kilometers the figure went down to 400. At 100 kilometer there were no more than 40. And on the spot I found 4 women who agreed to testify.
But Jolie was not obviously interested in reality. It was easiest to "hook up" the information that was rehashed hundreds of times, pointing the finger at the Serbs, the usual suspects, with no attempt to identify and qualify a new side of the truth. She just required a honorific Balkan drama.
Perhaps she was not aware that but she had a great story in her hands. A story of religiously mixed love. A story that is both traditional and cultural in appearances on the multi-ethnic Balkans for centuries. Even today it is not unusual to see a Serb in love with a Muslim woman. New generations are successfully trying to overcome the hatred and pain sowed by their ancestors.
Jolie was supposed to help them in achieving that. Not to judge them for a past that they are not responsible.
She potentially had an excellent artistic story on the reconciliation of Balkan enemies. What better story than to use love to reconcile quarreling parties? What better way to win an Oscar but to tell the story of this tragic love.
Sarajevo still remembers the tragedy of the Bosnian couple Serb Bosko Brkic and Admira Ismić, a Muslim woman, killed by a sniper on March 19, 1993; Bosnian Romeo and Juliet who left an indelible message by their death. A message of eternal love.
Unfortunately, Angelina did not recognize the message. She did not send such a message by her movie. She killed love once again. She raped the truth.
Therefore, she is unwanted in Serbia. That's why she is "persona non grata."