Quo vadis, Aida? (2020)

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 film poster showing a hall filled with people, sitting on the floor. IN the front a cutout of Aida (Jasna Djuricic) can be seen, with her hand in front of her mouth.
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55 Steps (2017)

55 Steps
Director: Bille August
Writer: Mark Bruce Rosin
Cast: Helena Bonham Carter, Hilary Swank, Tim Plester, Jeffrey Tambor, Richard Riddell, Johan Heldenbergh
Seen on: 11.5.2018

Eleanor Riese (Helena Bonham Carter) has been in and out of psychiatric facilities for most of her life, so she is intimately aware of what is going wrong there. And what it boils down to that people believe that being in need of psychiatric help means that one can no longer be trusted to make decisions about one’s own treatment. Eleanor really doesn’t think so – and she’s willing to sue the hospital for it. With the help of her new lawyer Colette Hughes (Hilary Swank), she takes up the fight for psychiatric patients everywhere.

55 Steps is probably a nice crash course for the patients’ rights movement. It is an enjoyable film – apart from the catastrophic casting decisions made.

Film poster of 55 Steps, showing Hilary Swank and Helena Bonham Carter.
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The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

The Zookeeper’s Wife
Director: Niki Caro
Writer: Angela Workman
Based on: Diane Ackerman‘s non-fiction book
Cast: Jessica ChastainJohan HeldenberghDaniel BrühlTimothy RadfordEfrat DorIddo GoldbergShira HaasMichael McElhatton
Seen on: 18.4.2017

Antonina Żabińska (Jessica Chastain) and her husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) run the Warsaw Zoo together and things have been going well. That is, until the Germans march into Poland in 1939 and turn their lives upside down. Antonina and Jan remain pretty privileged, although their Zoo is taken apart, the rarest animals shipped to the zoo in Berlin run by Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl) and the grounds are used for German soldiers. But once they realize how bad the situation for the Jews in Warsaw is, they start helping in any way they can.

The Zookeeper’s Wife tells a pretty amazing story about exceptional people and will leave no tearduct untouched. I enjoyed it, as much as you can enjoy a film about the holocaust.

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The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012)

The Broken Circle Breakdown
Director: Felix Van Groeningen
Writer: Carl Joos, Felix Van Groeningen
Based on: Johan Heldenbergh’s and Mieke Dobbels’ play The Broken Circle Breakdown Featuring the Cover-Ups of Alabama
Cast: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh, Nell Cattrysse

When tattoo artist Elise (Veerle Baetens) and bluegrass singer Didier (Johan Heldenbergh) meet, it’s the start of a big love story, despite their different lifestyles. A few years later they’re still together and have a daughter – Maybelle (Nell Cattrysse). But when Maybelle starts battling cancer at the age of 6 and we retrace the steps of Elise and Didier’s beginnings, the question arises whether they’ll be able to get through this.

The Broken Circle Breakdown is not a happy movie, but it’s beautiful and smart and romantic in an unromantic way. Or maybe unromantic in a romantic way? In any case it’s worth watching.


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