In the tradition of “Silkwood”, “Erin Brockovich” and “The Insider”, a new whistleblower movie is coming soon to a theater near you. Despite its unoriginal title, “The Whistleblower” caused quite a stir last week at its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, where it reportedly caused one overwhelmed audience member to faint.
The new drama is based on the real-life experience of Kathryn Bolkovac, who approximately 10 years ago uncovered a massive sex trafficking operation in the Balkans involving United Nations and U.S. contractor personnel. Bolkovac was hired by DynCorp International to work on a UN-administered program to train local police in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bolkovac and another DynCorp employee, Ben Johnston, reported to the company that their colleagues and UN staff were visiting brothels, aiding in human trafficking and paying for sex with underage girls. Both Bolkovac and Johnston were fired by DynCorp. Both filed retaliation lawsuits against DynCorp: Johnston reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement, and Bolkovac won $173,000 from a British employment tribunal. Even though DynCorp fired several employees in Bosnia for “unacceptable behavior,” no one was ever criminally charged in the matter.
POGO, which has worked on human trafficking issues, is looking forward to the general release of “The Whistleblower”. It has an all-star cast, including Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn, and Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz as Kathy Bolkovac, who also has written a book (“The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, And One Woman’s Fight For Justice”) about her experience.
-- Neil Gordon