ABC News’ Imtiyaz Delawala reports:
Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie often tackles violence and war in her action films.
But her latest film, “In the Land of Blood and Honey,” she tackles it in entirely different way, delving into the lives of innocent people caught in the middle of the war in Bosnia in the 1990's.
For the first time, Jolie stepped behind the camera, writing and directing the film that examines the Bosnian conflict through the eyes of characters witnessing the systematic violence and genocide that enveloped the region for more than three years.
“I was thinking and meditating on these international themes of violence against women, lack of intervention, and how human beings are changed and warped by war, and how some people come out stronger and some people are truly broken,” Jolie told “This Week” anchor Christiane Amanpour, who covered the conflict in the 1990's. “There’s no safe way to tackle these subject matters, but I think the important thing is to discuss them and tackle them.”
While the United States was heavily involved and finally ended the Bosnian conflict in 1995, the war that raged for more than three years in the heart of Europe was considered one of the greatest collective failure of international diplomacy since World War II.
“It’s infuriating how long it took to intervene,” Jolie said of the conflict. “When I say ‘intervene,’ I don’t mean always boots on the ground, I don’t mean that. It’s just being conscious, discussing it, not hiding the issues, and figuring out and working towards solutions with the people on the ground.”
While Jolie is a Hollywood star known more for her high-profile film roles and her relationship and family with actor Brad Pitt, she says those who know her well know that tackling such as serious subject matter as the Bosnian war is not out of character.
Jolie serves as a Goodwill ambassador to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Jolie did extensive research for “In the Land of Blood and Honey” in order to try to capture individual stories from the conflict.
“There’s a great photograph that I had in the office,” Jolie said, describing a photo of a Bosnian woman. “She’s got the pearls, and she’s dressed. And she’s done her hair. And it’s just, you may shoot at me, but you will not remove my humanity, my dignity, my self, my person. I am going to continue to keep my head up.”
When casting the film, Jolie decided to turn to local actors who lived through the war, on all sides of the ethnic divides.
“I would not have done the film without them,” Jolie said. “It belongs to them, it’s their story.”
Actresses Zana Marjanovic and Vanessa Glodjo said they were moved by the script written by Jolie, which they said didn’t soften the conflict as many films do.
“When I read the script, it was — I had knives in my chest, in my stomach,” Glodjo said. “And I said, ‘My God. What is this? What is this really? It’s so strong.’”
Both actresses said they hope the film serves as a reminder of what happened during the Bosnian conflict, and the physical and emotional destruction of the war.
“Our fear is the silence. Our fear is ignorance. Our fear is that people won’t know what happened,” Marjanovic said. “And being ignorant about what happened leaves a chance that it may happen again.”
Jolie said she was “very moved” by her experience making the film, and said she hopes it conveys the people of the region well.
“There is something in this film we hope through the music, through the people, through the relationships, that also shows the warmth and the love, and the humor, and the life of the people from this part of the world that is special,” Jolie said.
Watch Christiane Amanpour’s full interview with Angelina Jolie Monday on ABC News Nightline.