Currently in selected theatres and virtual cinemas and coming to On Demand from writer/director Jasmila Zbanic and Super LTD is the intense and suspenseful QUO VADIS, AIDA?
It is July 1995 in Bosnia and UN translator Aida Selmanagic (Jasna Djuricic) is trying to help save the town of Srebrenica where she and her family live. Even though the Serbian army has been warned about attacking innocent civilians, General Ratko Mladic (Boris Isakovic) has other plans that include clearing the town in the name of rebels convincing people he is freeing them.
When the towns people run, it is to the UN warehouse but there is not enough room for everyone. Aida sees husband Nihad (Izudin Bajrovic) and sons Hamdija (Boris Ler) and Sejo (Dino Bajrovic) on the other side of the fence. Aida is trying to convince those in charge that her family should come with her, especially since they would not be able to talk with the Serbians without her.
Turning to Col. Karremans (Johan Heldenbergh) and Major Franken (Raymond Thiry), the only way possible is for Nihad to go to General Mladic to represent the citizenry. What they do not know is that Joka (Emir Hadzihafizbegovic) and his men have pushed their way into the warehouse under the guise of looking for rebels.
Chaos is ramping up as the General makes it clear that he is going to take the townspeople to another location safely. Aida knows that something is terribly wrong and once again goes into survival mode trying to keep her family together.
Djuricic as Aida is absolutely stunning in this role. Working for the UN as a translator is clearly something she is proud of since not being able to teacher her students. She has a repour with the UN military personnel, at least that what she believes. Once everything is turned upside down, Djuricic gives us every range of emotion filled in intensity, sadness, fear and kicking survival into high gear. It is this actress that had me fully invested in every frame of the film and every word of the story.
Bjrovic as Nihad is not really interested in working with the General who made them all flee from their home but knows it might be the only way to help keep the family together. Ler as Hamdija is the younger son who listens to everything that is happening and sees what his mother is doing to help them. The fear is even deeper when they realize his ‘friends’ are on the other side of all of this. Bajrovic as Serjo is trying hard to keep it together but does not see the hope.
Isakovic as Mladic is the driving force behind the invading army and the fear that is disguised by cameras and offerings. The constant mixed messages push the intensity and the reality that he is not going away quietly. Hadzihafizbegovic as Joka is another person driving fear into the hearts of the townspeople. Even when he tries to be ‘nice’, there is not one reason to trust him. Aida will be running into him again and again.
Other cast include Reinout Bussemaker as Dr. Robben,, Teun Luijkx as Captain Mintjes, Juda Goslinga as Lt. Rutten, Jelena Kordic as Chamila, Alban Ukaj as Tarik, Edita Malovcic as Besna and Ermin Bravo as the Mayor.
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Director Zbanic says, “This film is about a woman caught in a male game of war. It is about courage, love and resilience – and also about what happens if we fail to react on time to warning signs. I survived the war in Bosnia. One day you have everything and the other day most of the things you know no longer exist. Just because we deem certain things unimaginable, does not mean they can not happen.”
Regarding the character of Aida, “Her character is between two worlds: she is Bosnian, her family is in the same situation as other residents of Srebrenica, yet she works for the UN making her position ambiguous. She believes in the UN, she believes in a UN base as a safe place for her family believing that she has certain privileges because of her job. This film is her journey when everything falls apart.”
QUO VADIS, AIDA? is powerful, frightening and brings a story that is sad and brilliantly told all wrapped up in this film. Djuricic as Aida brings every frightening element to the film with not only the will to survive what is happening around her but using every bit of that to save her family.
There is not a moment where watching the screen does not bring a wealth of anxiety because every idea Aida thinks of is something each of us would do to try and escape. This is what happened in 1995, think of that – trying to survive the terror inflicted on people only twenty-six years ago. That is a blink in time and still there are people living under death and tyranny somewhere in the world today.
QUO VADIS, AIDA? gives us an upfront and personal look at a woman who sees what is coming and tries to survive it in every way possible. Constantly battling walls put in front of her, Djuricic/Aida provide us with hope upon hope and in the end, a desire to come to terms with the past and try and find a life once again.
In the end – her world is colliding!