You may not know it from the unending tabloid coverage of her body and brood, but Angelina Jolie is serious about her craft. Which is acting and filmmaking, not being famous.
The 36-year old covers the October issue of Vanity Fair, speaking about, among other things, her upcoming writing and directing debut, “In The Land of Blood and Honey.” A drama set in the thick of the mid-90s war in Bosnia, the film is about the tumultuous relationship between a Serbian rape camp administrator and a Bosnian war victim.
Its subject matter, dealing with ethnic battles, rape and torture, drew protests from Bosnian groups preemptively offended at its suggestion of a love possible between the captor and captive.
The Association of Women Victims of War, a powerful lobby of advocates for those who suffered horrifying crimes in mass rape camps set up during the war, protested the film, leading to the revocation of Jolie’s permit to film within the country. Eventually, Jolie was able to clear up the matter and re-secure the permit, and shooting took place in Sarajevo; Hungary also served as one of the primary backdrops for production.
According to the actual cast members on the film, Jolie addressed the issues with the respect of someone who lived through them.
“All information was hidden,” Goran Kostic, who plays the Serb soldier, told the magazine. “It was obvious it was somebody big. You’re an actor, you audition, and they don’t tell you who it is, you know it’s somebody from the top. I had no idea. Nor did I want to speculate. I did what I had to do. Later, when they told us Angelina Jolie wrote the script, I was quite pleasantly surprised to see how she was able to put all of it together.”
His co-star, who plays the Bosnian woman, agreed.
“When I found out it was her, I thought, Unbelievable,” Zana Marjanovic, said. “[My character] was so authentic I felt [the writer] must be from here.”
The film was honored in August at the Sarajevo Film Festival, which was a top endorsement for its subject matter.
Jolie also spoke about her partner Brad Pitt’s films — or, her less than fluent knowledge of his body of work. She’s seen all of his films of which she’s attended premieres (though she doesn’t mention having seen any more than that), and has an unconventional choice for favorite.
“I think I liked Jesse [‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’] because I knew how hard he worked on that,” Jolie explained. “It’s interesting: when you live with an artist, it’s not the film but the process you respect. I know he took a risk on that, fought for it, stood true to what he believed. He didn’t cave when people were pressing him, and he made a beautiful film.”
The film, released in 2007, starred Pitt as a crumbling Jesse James and focused on his friendship with Robert Ford (Casey Affleck), his eventual assassin.