The problem with all the high-minded praise of Angelina Jolie’s feature directing debut “In the Land of Blood and Honey” (December 23) is that audiences are going to avoid it as a dose of medicine. Truth is, the Producers Guild of America is right to award the movie with its 2012 Stanley Kramer Award on January 21. After all, the award was created to “honor a motion picture, producer or other individual, whose achievement or contribution illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion.”
While most folks will assume this movie’s prizes are about wanting its well-intentioned global movie star director to show up, Jolie and producer Graham King deserve respect for making this taut, intimate, moving Bosnian War drama on location in Budapest and Esztergom in 41 days, with no rehearsals. It’s damned good.
At the FilmDistrict premiere Thursday, the statuesque actress, wearing a simple black evening sheath, introduced the benefit for the Genocide Museum. “It’s intended to be a hard movie to watch,” she said, reminding that the film’s stars Rade Serbedzija and Zana Marjanovic, as well as the rest of the cast, had “lived through this war, were effected by war… The intention was to ask, ‘when is somebody going to stop this?’ Intervention came late. I hope this film creates a new dialogue to help the people of this region.”
Previous winners of the award include “The Great Debaters,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Hotel Rwanda,” and “Antwone Fisher.” “In the Land of Blood and Honey” is an extraordinary film that portrays a complex love story set against the terrors of the Bosnian War, especially towards women,” said Producers Guild Presidents Hawk Koch and Mark Gordon. “This film truly embraces the legacy of Stanley Kramer.” The synopsis is below.
Set against the backdrop of the Bosnian War that tore the Balkan region apart in the 1990s, IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY tells the story of Danijel (Goran Kostić) and Ajla (Zana Marjanović), two people from different sides of a brutal ethnic conflict. Danijel, a soldier fighting for the Serbs, and Ajla, a Bosnian held captive in the camp he oversees, knew each other before the war, and could have found love with each other. But as the armed conflict takes hold of their lives, their relationship grows darker, their motives and connection to one another ambiguous, their allegiances uncertain. IN THE LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY portrays the incredible emotional, moral and physical toll that the war exerts both on individuals and people as a whole and the terrible consequences that stem from the lack of political will to intervene in a society stricken with conflict.