Aida is a translator for the UN in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the town, her family is among the thousands of citizens looking for shelter in the UN camp.
The massacre at Srebenica in the mid-90s is the greatest horror to occur in Europe since the Second World War, yet for one reason or another it’s became a largely forgotten conflict, at least in the eyes of filmmakers who have tended to focus more on the World Wars and American led conflicts such as Vietnam and more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan. This makes ‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’ all the more essential and it is an absolutely grueling, brutal and heartbreaking film that looks at the fate of the Bosniak Muslims through the eyes of a UN translator, caught between her job and her people.
‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’ takes place over a few days after Bosnian Serb troops had ransacked the town of Srebenica and forced the Bosniak Muslim population to retreat to the UN compound where they gathered in large numbers in and outside. The tragic events are seen through the eyes of Aida (Jasna Đuričić), who is working as a translator for the UN forces, whilst her family and friends are gathered outside. She’s caught between the bureaucracy and general incompetence of the UN forces, and the barbarism of the Bosnian Serb troops, and there’s a horrible sense of foreboding that deep down everyone knows how this is going to play out, yet are unable or unwilling to stop it.
There are a couple of really important scenes that take us away from the pressure cooker of those fateful days in July 1995, namely a flashback to a party showing life before the civil war, and scenes later on when Aida has returned to her old job as a teacher. I don’t quite know how she managed to do it after everything she goes through and it packs a hell of a punch. ‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’ is a superb film about a tragedy of monumental proportions that encompasses the wider circumstances and decisions that led to the situation in Srebenica deteriorating irrevocably, as well as the impact these decisions had on the fates of ordinary Bosnians. An outstanding film that will hopefully garner a nomination for ‘Best International Feature Film’ at this year’s Academy Awards.
Directed By: Jasmila Žbanić
Starring: Jasna Đuričić, Izudin Bajrović, Boris Isaković, Johan Heldenbergh, Raymond Thiry, Boris Ler and Dino Bajrović