TIFF 2010: ‘The Whistleblower’
In our modern era of total interconnectivity, speaking out against perceived injustices can have extensive personal and professional consequences. Based on true events, The Whistleblower harrowing political thriller recounts the story of Nebraska police officer Kathryn Bolkovac, who discovers a deplorable United Nations cover-up and launches an indomitable fight for justice.
After enduring significant personal setbacks, Kathryn (Academy Award®-winner Rachel Weisz) accepts a well-paying UN peacekeeping job, courtesy of a private military contractor. She arrives in post-war Bosnia expecting a harmonized international effort, but is greeted with disorder and irresponsibility. UN officers behave like immature college students, Bosnian police are uncooperative and there is rampant sexism, both among the local population and in the hallways of the UN. When a brutally injured young woman lands in the UN’s care, Kathryn unearths a terrible underworld of sex trafficking and traces the path of criminality to a shocking source.
Larysa Kondracki’s bold debut takes an unforgiving look at a horrifying contemporary issue. At the centre of her formidable cast (which includes Vanessa Redgrave and Monica Bellucci) is Weisz, who captures the gradations of Bolkovac’s character with aplomb, shifting from naivety to indignation to desperation. Weisz imbues Bolkovac with all the knotty baggage of the character’s past, the details of which are used against her by the enemies she makes along the way.
As Kathryn works feverishly to gather evidence, the UN works harder to stymie her progress and keep her silent. Kondracki holds nothing back, exposing the insidious sexism, double standards and criminal negligence of those ostensibly entrusted to protect the vulnerable. The nightmare of the sex trade industry and the gruesome fates of its victims are depicted without reprieve. Kondracki has achieved a rare feat: a political thriller (famously the domain of male directors) about horrific injustices against women and told through a woman’s uncompromising lens.
It’s a solid thriller that, like Bolkovac, rarely loses sight of what’s most important in stories like these: the victims.”
Learn more about the artists featured in The Whistleblower by clicking the links above!