Kathy Bolkovac had an even-keeled reaction when The Observer told her Rachel Weisz had called her a hero. “I really reject that title” she said matter-of-factly. Nevertheless, last Wednesday evening, scores of socialites and celebrities descended upon Tribeca for the premiere of Ms. Weisz’s new film, The Whistleblower, which tells the story of Ms. Bolkovac’s life.
The event, jointly hosted by the Cinema Society, Dior Beauty and DeLeon, brought high-brow and high-fashion celebrities from out of the woodwork. Hamish Bowles, Anna Wintour, Nicole Miller, rocker Albert Hammond Jr. of the Strokes, Johan Lindeberg and Matthew Settle made appearances at the screening, many of them slipping into the Tribeca Grand’s private theater unannounced and unphotographed.
When on assignment, Ms. Bolkovac—a Nebraska cop turned U.N. worker in postwar Bosnia—discovered that many of her colleagues were involved in the lurid sex-trafficking business. Stonewalled by her superiors, Ms. Bolkovac ultimately decided to become a whistleblower, releasing the story to European media outlets.
Ms. Weisz showed up at the hotel just before the start of the film. Bombarded by paparazzi, the actress posed good-humoredly for the cameras and looked stunning in a red Valentino dress. Ms. Weisz received a script for The Whisleblower several years ago but, pregnant with her son, Henry, was unable to accept the role at the time. Years later she asked her agent if the role was still available. Asked why this particular script stuck with her, Ms. Weisz claimed she simply couldn’t forget the powerful story. “I was just haunted by it. I was haunted by the story, by her character, by what she did,” said Ms. Weisz.
“The true heroes are the victims … I was simply doing my job,” said Ms. Bolkovac genuinely. The feet-on-the-ground Midwesterner seemed unfazed by the scene. Wearing a black dress with fraying beadwork, she demurely walked the red carpet, having her picture taken with Ms. Weisz and the cast when asked and gracefully bowing out when the paparazzi demanded solo shots of the starlette.
Larysa Kondracki, the film’s director, also attended, talking at length to the press about her work on the movie. The Ukrainian-Canadian spoke brusquely, wiping her brow under the bright, red-carpet lights. We asked the director what she hopes will come from the film, and she quickly recited her lofty goals. “I’d really like the U.N. to publicly embrace it, I’d like the State Department to look at international immunity, and I’d like some laws to be changed.
“At the very least peacekeepers should not buy and sell women,” she added thinly.
Unlike Ms. Kondracki, Ms. Weisz proffered a more notional answer when we asked her what she wanted the film to accomplish. “I hope that people are inspired. Inspired, you know … just to think about something or just to be entertained. I think inspiration doesn’t need to lead to actually doing something.”
After the screening, guests walked to Jimmy, the club on top of the James Hotel. People milled about, trying not to fall victim to the pool in the center of the roof deck, in which a single cocktail napkin had saturated and sunk, marring the otherwise pristine bottom.
Stephen Baldwin approached The Observer, asking for a cigarette. “You should really smoke American Spirits,” he said. “This cigarette has 2,300 cancer-causing chemicals in it,” he said taking a drag. His phone rang, and he pulled it from his pocket. “It’s my daughter. I have to take this,” he said, disappearing into the crowd.
Meanwhile, Daniel Craig, Ms. Weisz’s newly minted husband, made a brief appearance but left quickly with the actress. Nip/Tuck’s Dylan Walsh and his very pregnant girlfriend, Leslie Bourgue, hobnobbed inside, while 30 Rock’s Scott Adsit parked himself in a chair with a woman perched on his lap for the entire evening.
Ms. Kondracki celebrated heartily, drinking with her coterie away from the socialites and flashbulbs. “No one’s here. I could jump in the pool,” Ms. Kondracki joked later in the night. “Oh! Don’t do that,” one of her friends sternly cautioned.
Different groups from different industries remained heterogeneous clumps throughout the night. Nightlife impresarios David Rabin and Larry Poston chatted near the outside bar, while groups of long-limbed models, including the gender-bending Andrej Pejic, lounged on lawn chairs. Media men—free-drink-loving Lloyd Grove of the Daily Beast among them—talked to fellow writers and creative types.
Ms. Bolkovac remained composed throughout the entire evening, her presence unknown to many of the partygoers. She stood off to the side with her Dutch partner, Jan, nuzzling and pointing at the striking view that went quite ignored by jaded Jimmy regulars.