Sophie Giraud /Samuel Goldwyn Films
Academy-Award winner Rachel Weisz as Kathy Bolkovac in Larysa Kondracki's debut "The Whistleblower".
Academy-Award winner Rachel Weisz as Kathy Bolkovac in Larysa Kondracki's debut "The Whistleblower". Sophie Giraud /Samuel Goldwyn Films
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 Nebraska 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 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 partly 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.
Cary Fukunaga /Samuel Goldwyn Films
Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci and David Strathairn star in Larysa Kondracki's new film "The Whistleblower."
Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci and David Strathairn star in Larysa Kondracki's new film "The Whistleblower." Cary Fukunaga /Samuel Goldwyn Films
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, Monica Bellucci (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.