As a journalist who lived through the siege of Sarajevo, I witnessed the ethnic cleansing, the burning of houses, the columns of refugees pouring from the country and, once, a dog running down the street with a human hand in its mouth.

I went to see Blood And Honey with an especially critical eye. I was on the lookout for inauthentic details, since other films I've seen about Bosnia left me irritated and annoyed: Why couldn't someone tell the true story of the brutal war in the heart of Europe at the end of the 20th century?

I emerged from Jolie's screening impressed. How could a woman who was only 17 when the conflict erupted in April 1992 have so captured the horror of a war that focused largely on indiscriminate and brutal attacks on civilians?

Jolie replicates the city of Sarajevo exactly as I remember it. The humanitarian trucks being rocketed by Serb gunmen; the young rape victim slowly losing her mind after being held in captivity and repeatedly violated; the drunken snipers targeting a father and son running across a bridge.

In the end, Jolie's film stays with you. Some scenes are as vivid and horrific as the real days of war. In one, Vanesa Glodjo leaves her infant at home while she goes to raid a bombed-out pharmacy because none of the neighbours has medicine. She comes home to find him dead from a sniper's bullet. Her screams of agony do not feel like acting.

Jolie's couple meet before the war, in a time when Sarajevo was a former Olympic city of art and music and poetry. Through their eyes, we see the disintegration of that cafe society — and, more important, what humans do to other humans to survive.


Family matters

With six children, Angelina Jolie still manages to travel lightly, without much security, writes Janine di Giovanni.

She talks about her family, how she is educating them in their own languages and cultures, how she loves to fly around the world but how hard it is to be separated from them when she is away. She talks about how someone "who never was a babysitter" knew how to take care of Maddox as a 27-year-old single mother. "I didn't know whether to give one bottle or 30 bottles," she says, laughing, of her son's infant days. "I called my mother."

Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, a former actor and producer, who died in 2007 at 58, was a major influence. Jolie adored her. When Bertrand was dying, Jolie says, her mother told her she had done exactly what she wanted to do with her life, by simply taking care of her children. "Her goodness had a huge impact on me."

— Guardian News & Media Ltd