The harsh re­al­ity of sex crimes com­mit­ted dur­ing times of war is too much for most au­di­ences to bear, writes Vicky Roach

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies - Con­tin­ued P7

SOME­TIMES truth is not only stranger than fic­tion but also a lot more un­palat­able.

Larysa Kon­dracki, di­rec­tor of po­lit­i­cal thriller The Whistleblower, says she had to tone down the full ex­tent of the sex­ual atroc­i­ties un­cov­ered by Ne­braskan cop Kathryn Bolko­vac dur­ing her time as a United Na­tions peace­keeper in post-war Bos­nia or au­di­ences wouldn’t have been able to sus­pend their dis­be­lief.

‘‘ I wanted peo­ple to end up an­gry, but not an­gry at the film­maker,’’ says Kon­dracki, who spent two years in Europe re­search­ing the story with screen­writ­ing part­ner Eilis Kir­wan.

‘‘ I didn’t want peo­ple to say, ‘ What did I sit through that for?’ I wanted them to think, ‘ Why didn’t I know this was hap­pen­ing and what can I do?’

‘‘ One of our chal­lenges, in writ­ing the screen­play, was how to make it di­gestible for the au­di­ence. So the scale of the vi­o­lence and the numbers [ of those in­volved] was com­pletely toned down.’’

And while The Whistleblower makes it clear that even high-up UN of­fi­cials were in­volved in the sex slav­ery scan­dal outed by Bolko­vac in Oc­to­ber 2000, the wide­spread na­ture of the be­hav­iour within the re­spected or­gan­i­sa­tion was also un­der­played.

‘‘ We barely scratched the sur­face of what was hap­pen­ing,’’ the film­maker says.

‘‘ And is still hap­pen­ing – in Afghanistan, Sierra Leone. Just fol­low the peace­keep­ers. Any­where there are peo­ple go­ing in with a large amount of money and very lit­tle ac­count­abil­ity, that’s where sex traf­fick­ing is pop­ping up.’’

De­spite Kon­dracki’s ef­forts, early crit­ics still ac­cused her of sen­sa­tion­al­is­ing her story.

It wasn’t un­til re­ports in re­spected US pub­li­ca­tions such as Time mag­a­zine and The New York Times that peo­ple be­gan to take no­tice. Re­cently, UN Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-Moon ac­knowl­edged the film, an­nounc­ing that a screen­ing would be held at UN head­quar­ters on Oc­to­ber 10.

Kon­dracki chose to shoot the film like a ’ 70s con­spir­acy the­ory – with Rachel Weisz ( pic­tured) in a role that might once have been played by Meryl Streep to help au­di­ences un­der­stand the com­plex world into which the sin­gle mother is abruptly cat­a­pulted when she signs a lu­cra­tive con­tract with the UN to po­lice in­ter­na­tional law.

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