Canada/Germany, 2010, 118 min
The brutal world of sex trafficking may seem an unlikely basis for a well-oiled international thriller, yet first-time director Larysa Kondracki, with the help of a stellar cast led by Academy Award–winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener), has accomplished just that, using the slick format of a police procedural to treat a dire social issue. Kathryn Bolkovac is a single mom in the mid-1990s seeking a transfer from her police department in Nebraska to be closer to her children, who are moving away with their father. Unable to secure anything nearby, she decides to accept a well-paid six-month posting in Sarajevo with a private peacekeeping contractor. Despite her unlikely background for such a position, she takes to the job immediately, quickly learning to maneuver around the organization’s boy’s-club atmosphere and the cultural complexities of overseeing a corrupt local police force rife with sexism and still-simmering ethnic feuds. But she soon finds herself embroiled in a far-reaching United Nations cover-up of a sex-trafficking scandal. Undeterred by attempts from higher-ups to thwart her investigation, and faced with threats on her life, she fights to uncover the truth. Weisz’s portrayal of the real-life Bolkovac deftly balances her steely determination with sensitivity and vulnerability. Her equally impressive supporting cast includes Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci and David Strathairn, while director Kondracki tempers the unflinching treatment of her harrowing subject with a propulsive forward momentum. The Whistleblower is a stirring tale of courage in the face of the most depraved corruption.
In English, Ukrainian, Russian and Bosnian with subtitles.