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American Blows The Whistle On Bosnian Sex Crimes

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
August 4, 2011

An international scandal engulfs the United Nations, the State Department, military contractors and police officers from around the world. But this is not the plot of a fiction Hollywood thriller. It is the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac.

Bolkovac, a Tennessee police officer, travels to post-war Bosnia in the late 90′s to train and monitor local law enforcement. A single mom, she works hard and accepts an overseas post in order to make enough money so she can move closer to her daughter, who lives in a different state with her father and step-mother.

Bolkovac moves to Bosnia with little knowledge of the horrors that lie ahead. Until one day, she witnesses a raid on a local bar, where kidnapped and drugged girls are bought and sold as sex slaves. She later learns the abusers are some of the very same men charged with protecting the people of Bosnia – her fellow UN peacekeepers. Bolkovac blows the whistle, despite the grave danger it poses to her own safety.

Somehow, her true story never really makes headlines here in the US.

“I just couldn’t believe it hasn’t been done, I couldn’t believe no one has heard of this,” says director Larysa Kondracki, who learns of Bolkovac’s heroic fight through her Ukrainian expat community in Canada.

Bolkovac’s dramatic story is the basis of Kondracki’s debut film “The Whistleblower.”

“To me, it is not really a film about sex trafficking, it is about large organizations that have zero accountability that abuse their power and a woman that tried to bring that down,” Kondracki explains.

To help tell her story, the first-time director assembles a star cast, including Academy-Award winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener), who plays Bolkovac, and veteran actors Vanessa Redgrave (Julia, Atonement), David Strathairn (Good Night and Good Luck) and one of Europe’s most beloved actresses, Monicca Belluci (The Passion of the Christ, Malèna).

“I do not take credit for this, it had nothing to do with me,” Kondracki says about gathering the cast. “The story just fascinated everyone and they all slashed their pay. This was definitely a passion project for everyone involved.”

The film opens in selected theaters on Friday. [Copyright 2011 National Public Radio]

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