QUO VADIS, AIDA? gets 8/10 Forgotten shame remembered

Directed by Jasmila Žbanić

Starring Jasna Đuričić, Boris Isaković, Izudin Bajrović


If you’re not keen on watching something that will stress you out and get your blood boiling, you should see this anyway. This film exposes the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, an otherwise obscure atrocity, that is being reminded and reiterated with this powerful, though intense and (purposefully) infuriating film.

The film depicts the harrowing moment during the Bosnian War when Serbian troops sent over 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men to be executed, under the guise that they were being helped and relocated. We see this through the eyes of titular character Aida (Jasna Đuričić), a schoolteacher who’s currently working as an English translator for the Bosnian officials. She has to juggle this professional work with the worries she has for her family, her husband and two sons (one of whom turns eighteen whilst apprehended). Taking place primarily within the UN camp where all these Bosniak families take temporary shelter, Aida moves swiftly between the auditorium, the offices, and the outside border zone, trying to hide her family away as the Serbian generals sweet-talk their way into the compound.

The entire film has careful consideration for its subject matter, never overly-dramatising anything – it keeps itself more European than American, utilising a cinema verite style and almost no music to draw the audience into this increasingly chaotic and fearful situation. The film starts off so infuriating and heartbreaking, and it only gets even more so as we see Aida make difficult compromises when asked which single member of her family can stay – she knows that men will die at the hands of these Serbian troops, but she at least aspires to have them murder three less men (or even just one) if she conceals her family.

The film keeps itself contained, and doesn’t reveal much of anything before or after the massacre. Further commentary on how such an event culminated, and its historical context in these countries over the past 26 years, would’ve made such a film feel more encompassing on this tragedy. It works as an incredible dramatisation, though leaves the musings on this atrocity to the audience themselves. Though as it is, Quo Vadis, Aida? still remains the kind of film that wholly envelops you into this scenario, putting you through all the stress and the courage of Aida.


Quo Vadis, Aida? plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 10 to Sunday, January 16. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au

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