Hollywood star Angelina Jolie said Tuesday that her film about the Bosnian war should be a wake-up call for the world to act in time to prevent atrocities like those now happening in Syria.
Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt arrived here to attend the premiere of her directorial debut film In the Land of Blood and Honey, which was screened in a sports hall before an audience of some 5,000 people.
Greeted with standing ovations, Jolie broke in tears when she got on the stage after the screening.
"To see you receiving it so well means a world to me. I feel so deep for all of you in this country," said Jolie, dressed in a long black dress, with a brief Thank you in Bosnian.
Earlier, Jolie said she was satisfied with the film, a story of a Muslim woman and a Serb man who have a fling before Bosnia's 1992-1995 war only to meet again when the woman is a prisoner in a unit of the Bosnian Serb army commanded by her former lover.
"I feel very strongly about it (the film) and I believe that its core issue -- which is the need for intervention and need for the world to pay attention to atrocities when they are happening -- is very, very timely and especially with things that are happening in Syria today," Jolie told journalists.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay warned that "the nature and scale of abuses committed by Syrian forces indicate that crimes against humanity are likely to have been committed since March 2011."
Jolie said that it "is very important that this film is out at this time."
"If this film points the finger at anybody it is the international community, so I hope it remains a wake-up call for them," she said.
Muradif Hatonic, 77, said he was deeply moved.
"It brought me back to war years. I was in hell again. As if I was telling them my war experiences," Hatonic told AFP.
Many women with tears in their eyes said they were shocked.
"I lived through the war but I was spared the horrors other women suffered. Thank you Angelina for speaking about Bosnia like this," said 30 year-old Suzana Omeragic.
The film has already had a special preview screening in Bosnia for war victims' organisations as a number of them had expressed concern that it would not correctly present their plight.
Most eventually hailed the movie as objective and sincere.
But in a Serb part of Bosnia many reacted angrily, accusing Jolie of being biased against their ethnic community which they say she has portrayed as villains.
In a protest against a distributor's refusal to show the film in cinemas, a Serb woman from the western town Prijedor organised a private screening last weekend with Jolie's approval.
"We will do that for anyone who wants to have a private screening. And we hope that we encourage the people to see it somehow," Jolie said.
Jolie denied her film was anti-Serbian.
"I understand that it is sensitive, but I also know that the Serbian people are intelligent and open-minded people," she said.
Bosnia's war between its Croats, Muslims and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives.
Some 20,000 women were raped during the conflict, according to the local associations' estimates.
Jolie's film, shot in 2010 with a number of actors from the former Yugoslavia, had its international premiere in December in New York.
It goes on general release in Europe this month and will also be screened at the 62nd Berlin film festival.
On Friday, it will premiere in neighbouring Croatia, while in Serbia, it will open later this month, despite overwhelming disappointment with the film.
"Politically, it is biased... Artisticly speaking, it is shallow and did not go further than a spaghetti western," said Mirko Beokovic of the Serbian Academy for Cinema and Art.