Rachel Weisz Speaks about “The Whistleblower”
On July 27, 2011 the Museum of the Moving Image, in conjunction with BAFTA New York (British Academy of Film and Television Arts), presented a preview screening of the new film “The Whistleblower,” followed by a discussion with its star, Rachel Weisz. The event took place at the School of Visual Arts’ movie theatre on West 23rd Street. The discussion was moderated by the museum’s curator, David Schwartz. “The Whistleblower” opens on August 5.
Weisz, wearing a stunning red dress and sparkling diamond earrings had just come from the premiere of “The Whistleblower,” which had been held at another location. Her appearance could not have been more in contrast with that of Kathryn Bolkovac, the real life American police officer and United Nations Peacekeeper, stationed in Bosnia in 1999, who Weisz portrays in the film. Bolkovac, a police officer from Lincoln Nebraska, who initially took the Bosnia assignment for the pay increase it represented, was made Head of Gender Affairs as the war shattered country went about rebuilding itself. Bolkovac uncovered a white slavery (forced prostitution) ring controlled by the very people who were sent to Bosnia to help its citizens. She discovered white slavery was controlled and tolerated by the IPTF (International Police Task Force), local police and government employees. Many of those involved had diplomatic immunity and could not be prosecuted for their crimes.
“The Whistleblower” is a decent, “good cop stands alone against a corrupt and/or uncaring authority,” thriller. The film begins with a title card claiming to be based on actual events. Whenever I see something like that in a movie I begin to wonder about the proportion of fact to fiction. At the same time though I also realize it is important to take into account that fictional elements can be employed to tell a greater truth. What made “The Whistleblower” stand out, for me, is that it brought to light a story I did not know, or maybe heard about and forgot. The story also intelligently involves the audience because we discover things along with Bolkovac. We, through her, are put into this situation in a strange new land.
Weisz pointed out that white slavery is still “rife everywhere.” She said that human trafficking is even going on in England, where Weisz lives. Weisz said that there are now stiffer penalties for human trafficking than there are for drug dealing.
Weisz said she received “The Whistleblower” script in 2006 and was drawn immediately to the story’s theme of “ordinary women who do extra-ordinary things.” Prior to this she had not heard of Bolkovac. Weisz went on to explain that for Bolkovac, fighting the white slave trade was not really a moral question but simply a matter of being who she is. Weisz quoted Bolkovac as telling her, “That was my job. I’m a police officer.” Bolkovac was present during filming, in Bucharest and Romania, and Weisz said that she “picked her brains” and got her spirit.
The Whistleblower, Director Larysa Kondracki, 2011, Samuel Goldwyn Films, 118 minutes, rated R