Rachel Weisz stars in The Whistleblower as a crime-fighter who exposes sex trafficking by her UN colleagues.
The United Nations gets a very black eye in Rachel Weisz's new movie The Whistleblower. The fact-based film portray's UN peacekeepers in Bosnia as highly paid thugs who flaunted their diplomatic immunity by smuggling teenagers from the Ukraine into the Balkans. The girls were then chained in the back rooms of rural taverns and forced to work as prostitutes.
Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz plays Kathryn Bolkovac, the real-life Nebraska cop who went to work for the UN's Bosnian mission in 1999. Appalled by her colleagues' behavior, Bolkovac reported their crimes on the assumption that the UN would launch an investigation and clean up the mess. Instead, she got fired.
Weisz told me, "Being a cop, Kathy had already worked sex crimes and seen horrendous things. That wasn't the problem. It was seeing fellow law enforcement officers turning a blind eye to crime, that's the thing she couldn't get her head around. She just couldn't believe it."
The UN lost a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Bolkovac. It did not penalize employees allegedly engaged sex trafficking. Leaked memos acquired by the Turtlebay website indicate that the UN has decided to remain mum about The Whistelblower's version of events. Weisz says, "They're going to ignore the movie."
The United Nations is hardly the only humanitarian group that seems at times more passionate about coddling staffers than in delivering services.
The Red Cross, for example, accommodated CEO Marsha J. Evans with massive perks. Fired in 2006, she received a $780,000 parting payout. The United Way charity similarly lavished its bosses with private jets, multiple houses, and lifetime golf club memberships, which only came to light when the Washington Post published front page stories on the charity leaders' free-spending lifestyles.
Institutional malfeasance makes for sickening headlines. The upside: morally bankrupt behavior yields excellent movies. Weisz cites Silkwood and Erin Brockvich as her favorites. "I love stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things," she says. "I find it incredibly moving when people don't set out to be heroes but they're just doing what they think is right."
The Whistleblower opens August 5.