Quo Vadis, Aida?

DRAMA; 1hr 42 min (English, Bosnian, Serbian and Dutch with subtitles)

STARRING: Jasna Duričić, Izudin Bajrović, Boris Isaković

Going nowhere: Duricić

On July 11, 1995, anxiety is rife in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. The occupying Serbian army is under orders to retreat, with the besieged town classified as a United Nations safety zone, NATO jets are allegedly poised to attack.

Empty threats fail to deter the Serbs and in the chaos of mass evacuation, NATO sets up a base for the townspeople with UN translator Aida (Duričić), interpreting with tense efficiency from Bosnian to English and back in the mêlée. When the base gates are closed, the roiling sea of people outside demand entry, although conditions for the sardined thousands within are no better. Worse yet is the uncertainty, with the guaranteed air strikes nowhere in evidence.


In their other lives, Aida and her husband, Nihad (Bajrović), are schoolteachers and the parents of two sons (Boris Ler and Dino Bajrović). In this one, they and everyone around them are the victims of a failing, stonewalling bureaucracy. “There is no need for your people to die,” Serbian general Ratko Mladić (Isaković) insists to Bosnian negotiators, as coolly as a snake sizing up its prey.


While the snaky general guarantees safe passage, his troops load men and women into separate buses for transport to a nearby village with a regimented intent that could mean anything. Having access to inside information, Aida knows exactly what it means and that her husband and sons are at the crossroads of life and death. This puts a tireless Duricić in the hot seat, as both the fictional glue that pulls together the jagged threads of writer-director Jasmila Žbanić’s harrowing, fact-based account and the naked face of its suspicion and fear. Aida is a tigress, inflamed with frantic purpose. But chaos has a habit of feeding on itself and for the thousands in the firing line that day, the battle was always lost.