Quo Vadis, Aida

Twenty-five years after the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the largest civilian massacre since the second world war, writer-director Jasmila Žbanić recreates the event with horrifying historical authenticity.

Interpreter Aida – a haunting  performance by Jasna Đuričić – is caught up in the UN’s betrayal of the Bosnian Muslims. Despite so-called assurances from Serb General  Ratko Mladic – played with chilling brutality by Boris Isaković – thousands of civilians are rounded up and sent to await processing and promised transportation to safety. No spoiler alerts as the world knows that 8000 men and boys were separated from their wives and children and executed in cold-blood. Mladic is currently in prison on a life sentence for crimes against humanity.

By using the fictional narrative arch of Aida’s desperate attempts to save her family, Žbanić lets the disaster unfold. She recreates the terrible plight of the Bosnians who, like the Jews during the second world war, are are in denial of their impending fate. The utter toothlessness of the hapless Dutch UN commander (Johan Heldenbergh) who, together with his pathetic shorts-clad soldiers, stands back and allows Mladic to bulldoze his way to the inevitable atrocity, is shameful and reminds us that nothing has changed: the West still stands by wringing its hands as Yemenis, Burmese and Uighurs are slaughtered. This is a gripping, heart-breaking and harrowing narrative which is a fitting tribute to the lives lost.

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