Serbs shun Jolie’s directorial debut

BELGRADE, SERBIA (AP) - The Serbian premiere of Angelina Jolie’s Balkan war drama “In the Land of Blood and Honey” was met by derision Friday, as Serbs angry over what they consider an unfair depiction stayed away in droves.

Screenings attracted just a handful of viewers, local media said Friday, with one newspaper calling that “more than the movie deserves” and another deeming it a “fiasco.”

Jolie’s directorial debut _ a love story in which a Serb soldier finds his ex-lover, a Muslim woman, among sex slaves in a camp _ has triggered mixed emotions in the postwar Balkans, which are still grappling with historic ethnic tensions.

It received a standing ovation in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, but has sparked outrage among Serbs, who have blasted the movie as propaganda designed to portray them as the villains of the bloody 1992-95 Balkan wars.

Tens of thousands of people were killed in Bosnia’s war, which pitted the country’s ethnic Serbs against Muslims and Croats. Serbs have been widely blamed for most of the atrocities in the conflict, which is considered to be Europe’s worst bloodshed since World War II.

Only 12 people attended the earliest screening in a movie theater in central Belgrade, some of whom left before the end, reports said.

“More police were there than viewers,” a cinema employee, who identified himself only as Misha, said.

The right-leaning, mass-market Nationalist Press daily wrote that “the film is so bad that it warrants no reaction.” It added that only five people have turned up for a “ghostly empty” screening in another cinema _ “more than the movie deserves,” it said.

Later Friday, 28 people attended an afternoon screening, among them retiree Dragan Pjevac, who said that “there should be a second half to this movie” about the crimes against Serbs.

“In fact, there should be seven or eight parts of any such film in our region,” he added, referring to the history of violence among the Balkans many ethnic groups.

In stark contrast to Serbia, thousands have so far seen Jolie’s movie in both Croatia and Bosnia. In both countries, Jolie attended red-carpet premieres along with top dignitaries. In Montenegro, hundreds attended the opening screenings on Thursday.

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