I live in New York City, a half a block away from the United Nations, i meditate on that building constantly as a way of trying to find peace, i look to it as a source of inspiration, because i would like to think of it as a place where politics, religions, beliefs and economy are all neutral and in perfect harmony, even though i know it isn't. Many nights on my way home I stop and stare at that building and wonder what thoughts and prayers are going on in there, what matters are being brought to the surface for discussion, and which of those matters are in fact being addressed and which ones aren't. I always try to think of the United Nations as a place of peace, i try to look at it as a place of reflection on life in this tiny world we live in and for a second my heart gets filled with hope.
Well, last night i went to a different building in the city, the Hearst Tower, symbol of money and power of the american empire, but a place where thoughts come to life in print and websites and media in general; and also the place that houses Marie Claire magazine, which had invited me for a private screening followed by a Q&A of Angelina Jolie's "In the Land of Blood and Honey" the movie she wrote, directed and produced, about the war in Bosnia; a very controversial movie but also a brilliantly made movie; a movie that raises all the right questions, that stirs all the right feelings, that throws you to the ground and shakes you to look for your human soul.
Angelina Jolie has always been a very mysterious woman to me, a very layered gorgeous woman; she is the bombshell, the actress, the mother, the humanitarian, whatever it is you want to label her as, she can be, i see her as a Swiss army knife, actually, i don't, because a Swiss army knife has limitations, and Angelina doesn't. Mrs. Jolie is a powerful woman and she uses the power she has been given very wisely.
In her directorial debut, Mrs. Jolie told a story that many people don't want to tell, she told the story of something that the world didn't even want to look at as it was happening, in Bosnia; ugly things done by human beings to other human beings, she told the stories of the war, she managed to brilliantly place the viewer inside the war, next to the soldiers and the victims, she made you feel all they felt, and you could not pick a side, you could not decide who the villain was, because they all had their part in it, they all came in with their beliefs and they all turned into something else as soon as the war began.
Angelina Jolie showed us what it feels like to be in war, to see horrific things on a daily basis, year after year, after year, she made us understand that there is no sense to any of it, that friends and neighbors can turn into enemies in the click of an Uzi, just because. That is frightening, and we don't want to look at it, it is in our nature to look away, we don't want to know what happens there, we don't like to be put in that position, because we don't want to question ourselves what would we do if we were put in that situation.
Before the movie started, Angelina came out with a message; "Over the next two hours, you will feel uncomfortable and you will want to stop the movie and leave, but these people, they had to live through these things for three years, they couldn't leave, and many of the actors in this movie were there when it happened, so please don't leave."
Well, no one left, and we all wore those Bosnian shoes, and that is exactly what will happen to you too upon watching "In the Land of Blood and Honey", because Angelina Jolie will not settle for less then the absolute truth, she will not settle for less than the reality, and if the film doesn't end the way you expect it to end, well, you will have to suck it up, because in war, things don't necessarily end the way we want them to end.
Mrs. Jolie is a serious woman who takes her job very seriously, and when given the opportunity to tell this horrific story she decided to do the best job she could to show the world how things really happened, not how we hoped for them to turn out in the end, because in war there is no romantic ending, there is just the end. And then some other war begins somewhere else.
If the story was taken from a book of a certain gentleman or not, that doesn't mater, controversies aside, Angelina Jolie was the right person to tell this story, Mrs. Jolie has the means and expertise to make it work, she made sure that the movie reflected what really happened during the conflict in Bosnia, and because this movie has Mrs. Jolie as its creator people will pay attention to it and they will buy tickets and they will go watch it, even though the theme is tough to digest, so it doesn't matter where the story came from, but the story was told the best way it could be told, the story reached it's full potential for the screen and hopefully will help raise awareness of millions of people around the world, because that's why i write and that's why movie makers make movies, because we want to send a message, that's how we know how to help, we inform people through our craft and hope that the message sticks.
So what i took from my encounter with Mrs. Jolie was that if more people in Hollywood were rolling up their sleeves like she is, and Mr. Sean Penn is, and Mr. Steven Spielberg is, then we would have a much better chance of changing the world, because we still live in a celebrity driven world, and if more actors and directors used their celebrity status to give us the truth then we would have a much more educated young generation.
Angelina Jolie is a much bigger person than you would think of, and i feel profoundly honored and privileged to have been able to meet with her and share thoughts and ideas on some of the most difficult world issues, issues that we both care and fight for; in different levels, but still, we are both doing the best we can in our capacities, we are both being the best human beings that we can be.