Quo vadis, Aida?
Director: Jasmila Zbanic
Writer: Jasmila Zbanic
Cast: Jasna Djuricic, Izudin Bajrovic, Boris Ler, Dino Bajrovic, Johan Heldenbergh, Raymond Thiry, Boris Isakovic, Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, Reinout Bussemaker, Teun Luijkx
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 25.10.2020
Content Note: genocide
Aida (Jasna Djuricic) is a translator for the UN in Bosnia, Srebrenica to be exact. The Serbian army, led by General Ratko Mladic (Boris Isakovic), has been approaching the town and the Bosnian people are trying to find shelter in the UN camp. But the camp doesn’t have the proper resources to deal with that many people and camp leader Colonel Karremans (Johan Heldenbergh) is asking in vain for help. Meanwhile in that chaos Aida tries everything to get her husband and two sons to safety somehow.
Quo vadis, Aida? is an intense film that left me bawling my eyes out. Great performances and a great angle for the story make this film an unforgettable testament of the atrocities committed in Srebrenica.
The genocide in Srebrenica is, unfortunately, a very real event. So, most people will go into the film knowing that things are not going to end well (in my case this meant that I could start crying very early on). But even if you had no clue where things were headed, Zbanic captures the chaos and panic and helplessness so perfectly, the film will be upsetting long before the actual genocide starts.
Aida – who was not a real person – is the perfect point of view here. Her position as a translator gives her insight in both the realities of the Bosnian people and the UN. Thus she can show us how much things went wrong here, especially with the UN. The troops on the ground were abandoned by their leadership and did not find a way to resist that leadership to avoid catastrophe, hiding behind bureaucracy and chains of command instead.
The film is an emotional tour de force (as it should be). I don’t know how much poetic license Zbanic took with the facts here, but I think she definitely hits the (emotional) truth of this horrific massacre. Including the time afterwards where people find themselves facing each other again in a normal setting. How can you live with that? How can you continue? The answer is that you can’t, not really – but you have to anyway. But I get the distinct feeling that the apparent quiet after the storm may not last . The only chance we have is that we look really hard at what happened. And that’s what Quo vadis, Aida? does.
Summarizing: harrowing and important.