For her first film, Laryisa Kondracki went with her gut and chose a topic that she felt passionately about. THE WHISTLEBLOWER is based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, a police officer taking a lucrative contract to be a peacekeeper in Bosnia who discovered unsettling corruption and refused to be scared into silence. The shoot, involving overseas locations, multiple languages, and subject matter that is heart-wrenching, didn’t deter Kondracki. When we spoke on April 28, 2011, she told me that the secret, aside from an excellent grounding thanks to the Columbia University film school, was surrounding herself with the best people and listening to what they had to say. The conversation started with how she and co-writer Eilis Kerwin distilled the story of Bolkovac’s one-woman battle to stop the corruption and human-trafficking in sex slaves that she discovered, and then moved on to the tricky business realistically depicting the horror of the violence in the story, and the advantages of a narrative feature over a documentary when telling this particular story.
Based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac, an American police officer who became part of the peacekeeping forces in the former Yugoslavia who uncovered corruption involving human sex trafficking that permeated the authorities that were tasked with keeping the local population safe. Bolkovac faced the wrath, and worse, of not only the local traffickers themselves, but the contractor for whom she worked, and the stony silence of the State Department. The film stars Rachel Weisz as Bolkovac, and co-stars Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, Anna Annsimova, Benedict Cumberbatch, and David Strathairn. Kondracki directed from a script she co-wrote with Eilis Kerwin. Among its many awards is the best first feature film, presented by the Director’s Guild of Canada.