(WOMENSENEWS)–Before working in "In the Land of Blood and Honey," I didn’t have the strength to speak about the Bosnian war.

I lived through it as a young person, and — for better or worse — youth takes what comes. We accepted that the war was simply part of our lives. When it was over, we tried to close the subject . . . and not speak of it anymore.

That’s the way it was with the war. It was unspeakable. We didn’t go back. I didn’t go back.

Because of this film a silence has been broken around the taboo topic of war in my country. A conversation is starting. We are starting to remember what we managed to hide away for so many years.

Those who see the film, especially the people who lived through the war, are finally getting to cry over what they lived through, finally getting a chance to realize "I am here and I survived."

When I started making this movie, playing the role of Lejla, the sister of the main character, the floodgates of hidden and suppressed memories and emotion lifted. I saw, yet again, the complete horror and terror of what it was.

The writer speaks freely about what she knows; it comes from inside. In the process, she works through the pain and shares it with others. It is the same for painters, musicians, composers and directors. But, as actors, we have to be chosen. We have to be given our lines to say. What was unique in making this movie with Angelina Jolie, the film’s writer and director, is that we were given exactly the lines we wanted to say.

I realized how much I wanted–how much I needed–to say those very lines.

Incomprehensible Violence

As an actor in this film, I had to capture and present the experiences of those who lived the war. The violence that was done to our nation was nearly incomprehensible. I knew I had a moral responsibility to get it right.

I was not raped during the war, but many suffered this torment. I had a responsibility to my country, and to all those harmed by the war, to be a part of "In the Land of Blood and Honey."

When I read the script, the scenes of rape and brutality were overwhelming. I could hardly read through to the end, it was so emotional. Each page I turned, each new scene I read, each character I encountered, made me think to myself: "This is going to be like ripping my skin off to do it."

An actor has some initial doubts about a demanding role: "Am I up to this huge challenge? Do I have the strength, talent and knowledge to get it right?" I knew I had to be. I owed it to my country; to help Bosnia Herzegovina start talking about the war.

We needed to see this film; we needed to relive what happened to us.

When you are living through extreme circumstances such as the Bosnian war, you don’t truly see it. You are just trying to survive. Snipers could hit you at any minute when you leave your house and walk down the street. Grenades can blow your house to bits.

Amid this, you are not processing or understanding. You just want to live to see another minute, another hour, another day.

The movie changed me, and I think it will change you. It’s a necessary and powerful film. It challenges us with what we lived through. It’s critical to remember the pain, go through it again and finally let at least some of it go.

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Vanesa Glodjo was born in Sarajevo in 1974. She was living in the city during her late adolescence for the duration of the Bosnian War and was wounded during that time. She graduated from the Sarajevo Academy of Performing Arts in 1997. Glodjo has worked steadily in both film and TV in Sarajevo, including a role in Jasmila Zbanic’s 2006 film, "Grbavica: The Land of my Dreams." She currently lives in Sarajevo.

For more information:

In the Land of Blood and Honey: Vanesa Glodjo video:

Voices and Perspectives on War videos: