The Whistleblower takes up the age-old problem of who will police the police, but on an international level at which diplomacy can trump the law. It's both a crime and political thriller based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a former Nebraska police officer who was hired by a private security firm to work for the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Bosnia following the end of the war in 1995.
In the film, Rachel Weisz plays Kathy, who is assigned to work on an international police force in Bosnia. She begins her job with a brutal domestic violence case in a country that hasn't traditionally prosecuted such crimes, and she quickly learns that ethnic and religious differences from the war hold over in the prejudices of local policemen and bureaucrats. Then she gets involved in a brothel bust and realizes the biggest obstacle to repatriating two young Ukrainian women forced into prostitution is corruption within both the local police force and international agencies.
The brothels are full of mostly foreign women who have been tricked and forced into indentured prostitution. The abundance of the brutal and filthy bordellos is not just tolerated or ignored by the authorities but embraced as a cottage industry of bribes and kickbacks. The only thing more common is a steady clientele of international peacekeeping force members. As Kathy seeks help from diplomats, including Madeleine Rees (Vanessa Redgrave), it becomes clear that it's not a local problem involving a glut of prostitution in a recent war zone, it's much more involved. Unfortunately, Kathy has already exposed the two women as willing to cooperate with police. She's up against the world to try to save them, but the film is grounded by her simple goal to just do her job. Weisz very convincingly handles the cop's steely resolve and frustration and anguish in fighting forces so much larger than herself.
The Whistleblower is director Larysa Kondracki's feature debut, and it's a slick, tense and at times very disturbing thriller. Tickets $7 general admission, $6 students/seniors, $5 Zeitgeist members. — Will Coviello
7:30 p.m. Fri.-Thu.
Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., 827-5858; www.zeitgeistinc.net