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14. Quo Vadis, Aida?; movie review

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Title : 14. Quo Vadis, Aida?; movie review
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Cert TBA
101 mins
BBFC advice: TBA

In 1988, Mrs W and I honeymooned in Yugoslavia - a country which had a much more liberal regime than other communist countries.
In 2005, we returned. Our hotel was still there and the resort was just as beautiful as we remembered it and the people were as friendly.
It is very hard to conjure with the fact that a brutal war had ripped apart the country between those visits.
Jasmila Žbanić's bone-chilling Quo Vadis, Aida? rams home the horrors of what happened a few hours from where we holidayed.
Srebrenica in Bosnia will forever be remembered as the town in which more than 8,000 people were murdered by Serbian invaders.
This telling of atrocity concentrates on a United Nations interpreter, Aida (Jasna Djuricic), who finds herself at the frontline of a chaotic operation which was supposedly intended on protecting her countrymen.
Tragically, the UN team is seen to be pathetic, promises go unfulfilled and empathy to the displaced is in short supply.
Therefore, the merciless Serbian general, Ratko Mladic (Boris Isakovic), is allowed to do anything he pleases.
And when she realises the way the wind is blowing, Aida's priority lies with trying to save her husband (Izudin Bajrovic) and sons (Boris Ler and Dino Bajrovic).
There are several elements of Quo Vadis, Aida? which grab the audience, not least the sheer horror of running for your life from the safety and sanctity of one's own home.
In Srebrenica's case, a resident's ethnic background was a qualification for life and death. These people who ended up on opposite sides of the war resumed being neighbours after it.
Then we were struck by the brutality of the monsters who ordered executions.
And finally, the incompetence of the United Nations is laid bare. Its officers are clueless and left to their own devices by their hierarchy.
Blood was as much on their hands as the Serbians.
Quo Vadis, Aida is remarkable. Thought-provoking on so many levels and brilliantly executed. Djuricic excels as a woman who tries everything to prevent herself from losing everything.

Reasons to watch: Harrowing true story
Reasons to avoid: Upsetting scenes

Laughs: None
Jumps: None
Vomit: None
Nudity: None
Overall rating: 9/10

Did you know?
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague indicted 161 people and convicted 90, including generals, politicians and commanders in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. The tribunal closed in 2017 and transferred its remaining cases to the UN’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and to state courts in the Balkans.

The final word. Jasmila Žbanić: "I wanted people to feel how it was, to make them ask themselves: “What would I do?” To identify with Aida and go where she goes. I wanted the audience to be active, and with tragedies like the Holocaust, people know what happened, so you can go directly into the story. "

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