Storm (und Drang)
Updated: Nov 17, 2018
Through the advent of streaming platforms offering almost limitless access to the world’s film/video caches, my own dedication to reading has been somewhat curtailed. Or made me a bit more selective. On the plus sides, it must be said that the new technologies have made the limited amount of theatrical screens for filmmakers less of a hurdle to reach audiences.
War criminality has slipped out of any public conversation with the mayhem daily introduced by the present US regime. Not that North Americans are inclined to examine their country’s conduct of its foreign policy. Nor is there much interest in the International Criminal Court or the UN human rights inquiries in Africa. And yet sooner or later this country will have to reconcile its power politics with its professed human rights principles.
One does wonder how the creators of Storm*, a dramatic film about the workings of International Criminal Court, specifically in the case of an accused Serbian war criminal went about raising the necessary cash to make this film. It certainly had to be pitched on the strength of a stellar (as in acting ability, not celebrity)cast. Kerry Fox’s Hannah Maynard as an unyielding prosecutor leads an outstanding cast(including one of my favorites Stephen Dillane)** in this riveting narrative which portrays the ethical dilemmas imposed by prosecuting events ten or 20 years past on present-day geopolitics.
Before she traded her niche in academia for a seat at the table of government apparatchiks (US Ambassador to the UN,) Samantha Power wrote a useful (Pulitzer Prize-winning )book on the 20th-century origin of the concept of genocide, A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.*** I spoke with Ms. Power contemporaneously with the publication of that book.
RB: What drew you to the war in Bosnia?
SP: It was nothing about the war—nothing about war as such. It was just that war, at that time. When I was in Washington, the person I worked for, Morton Abramowitz, was very concerned about what was going on there. As his assistant I had to learn the facts of the matter. The easy thing—which I have done for most of my life—is to block the facts out. Once you are in a position where you have to process the facts, you are stuck. It was so incredibly unjust, what was going on. And absurd, in my view—at the time, a very young view—that we were doing so little to stop the atrocities. The only skill I had was that of being able to write—just to go and be a reporter.
RB: At that time were you privy to any information that was not easily available to other people?
SP: In Washington? No.
RB: What I am trying to get at was that the information about Bosnia was available to anyone.
SP: Oh yes, yes, yes. It helped that I was tasked to process it. Before I went to work for Abramowitz the information was available to me and I ignored it. Knowledge is something you can possess on a continuum. I had in the abstract at one point and then it became very deeply personal to me, by virtue of working for him. But yes, it was all over the papers, the concentration camps, the murdering of civilians and so on.
** Dillane appears in the 2 seasons of the BC’s The Tunnel and in the well-wrought thriller Spy Game.