Quo vadis, Aida? is based on a harrowing true story about the atrocities of war in mid-90s Bosnia.
Jasna Djuricic plays Aida, a translator for the United Nations in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the city, her family is among the thousands of citizens trying to seek shelter. Aida’s role is to interpret crucial information to keep her family safe.
Zbanic’s new feature film is not an easy watch. It is heartbreaking and desolating. She tells the story of the massacre of thousands of Muslim Bosnian men. Their small town succumbed to genocide. The prime minister of the Serbian Republic, Radovan Karadzic, and General Ratko Mladic were solely responsible for this slaughter and were later condemned. The title of the film, ‘Quo vadis, Aida?’, refers to the Latin phrase that references a question that Saint Peter said: “Where are you marching towards?” or “Where are you going to?”.
The film places you in the shoes of this woman, trying to do her best, a heroic act to save her family. She maintains her professionalism even in the toughest of situations where the adrenaline is rushing. It ascends as the film keeps dealing with life-or-death decisions and moral dilemmas facing the lead character. It delivers excellent tensions as time runs out for Aida. You feel that the film is moving rapidly while cleverly slowing down at the best moments to contemplate the terrors, tragedies, and tribulations. It is unflinching while showing the shocking factors in the situations that were happening during those times.
The way that Zbanic evokes humanity is constructed expertly with pure sensitivity. Thanks to the film’s depiction of humanity and realism, Quo vadis, Aida? has a strong emotional core that holds the film perfectly. Although the film takes a bit longer than what the audience might prefer and the ending is not perfect, it is still a socially essential and hefty story. It is powerfully constructed by director Jasmila Zbanic, with an outstanding performance by Jasna Duricic, smooth and crisp editing by Jaroslaw Kaminski, and intense cinematography by Christine A. Meier.
Official submission of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category of the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.