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A 'Whistleblower' Against International Injustice

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A 'Whistleblower' Against International Injustice


A 'Whistleblower' Against International Injustice

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MELISSA BLOCK, host: In 1999, Kathryn Bolkovac left her job as a cop in Lincoln, Nebraska, to work for the United Nations in Bosnia. What she found there shocked her. The filmmakers who have made a movie about her are guessing it will shock audiences, too.

Bob Mondello reviews the new drama, "Whistleblower."

BOB MONDELLO: Being a peacekeeper in Bosnia, a nation where ethnic strife goes back generations can't ever have struck Police Officer Kathy Bolkovac as an easy job, but it probably hadn't occurred to her that the guys working with her wouldn't necessarily be allies.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) So, where do we sign to see (unintelligible)?

RACHEL WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) It says right here, U.N mandate requires you to sign at the end...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Character) Yes, but this paper is no good. The new policy is...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) (Unintelligible) You sign them in, then bugger off. (Unintelligible), yeah?

WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as Character) Welcome to paradise.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (as Character) Follow me.

MONDELLO: Kathy, played by Rachel Weisz, sees a case on this first day that only she seems interested in: a middle-aged woman stabbed by her husband. It's not the first time the woman's come in, but each time no charges are filed, and she's sent back to her husband. And looks as if that's going to happen again.


WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) Well, what did he say?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: (as Character) The woman is Muslim and she deserved it.

WEISZ: Their job, Kathy's told, is to observe not to investigate. But she's an investigator. So she teams up with a local officer and they take the case to court. Two months later, they win, which earns her tea with a U.N. official played by Vanessa Redgrave.


VANESSA REDGRAVE: (as Madeleine Rees) You've just facilitated the first conviction for domestic violence since the end of the war in Bosnia.

WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) Well, it's just my job.

REDGRAVE: (as Madeleine Rees) You can't imagine how that makes you stand out around here. You know, I (unintelligible) have Gender Affairs Office and I think you're the right person to take over.

MONDELLO: When she does, all of her cases involve women, many of them prostitutes at clubs and brothels frequented by the very men Bolkovac works with each day, which is not a coincidence. Kathy uncovers a trail of bribes, sex trafficking and, worse, that leads straight back to her U.N. colleagues. But the victims are afraid to testify. The U.N., they have learned from experience, is just there to observe.


WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) They can't knowingly have one of their men involved in rape, kidnapping and torture.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) How do you do this if you work for the U.N.?

WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) I'm an American police officer. It doesn't matter who I work for, I wouldn't let anybody get away with this.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) You promise you can stop these men?

WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) Well, I can't promise I can stop all these men. I promise...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (as Character) You cannot promise, then why do we agree? How do I know this is safe?

WEISZ: (as Kathryn Bolkovac) You're a smart girl.

MONDELLO: Director Larysa Kondracki and writer Eilis Kirwan are making their feature film debut with "The Whistleblower." And though it's based on a true story, they've made it zip along like a police thriller. A police thriller that's bleak enough and sobering enough that it would be tough to watch if not for the controlled fury of Weisz's performance a standout in what's shaping up to be an assertively feminist August at the multiplex.

Next week, for instance, "Whistleblower" will be competing for audiences with an adaptation of the bestseller, "The Help" in that story of '60s racial discrimination, women so dominate that you'd almost think men didn't have opinions on the subject. And a week later, the French art-house film, "Mozart's Sister" will argue that 18th century sexism deprived the world of a potentially brilliant composer.

These other films, let's note, were directed by men and tell their stories of social injustice politely. The women behind "The Whistleblower," suit their filmmaking to the atrocities they're exposing and show no such reserve.

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