The new film by Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic, "Quo Vadis, Aida?", had its world premiere on Thursday at the 77th Venice Film Festival and is competing for the Golden Lion.
The director and the actors walked the red carpet in front of the Lido theatre to the tunes of two traditional Bosnian folk songs ‘Ruzo moja’, (My rose) and ‘Sto te nema?’ (Why are you not here?).
After Thursday’s premiere, the film will be screened 12 more times during the festival, and next year it should be available in cinemas throughout Europe.
“We dedicated this movie to women who lost their sons, husbands and the people closest to them,” Zbanic told reporters at a press conference held ahead of the screening.
“I know some families who lost 60 family members each, all the people around them and whole generations were simply wiped out,” she said, noting that there were many movies out there that speak from the male perspective.
Zbanic told the story of the Srebrenica genocide through the fate of Aida, a former professor, who works as a translator for the U.N. Dutch Battalion, which is tasked with guarding the so-called security zone – Srebrenica.
When Mladic's troops entered the city, Aida's husband and two sons sought refuge at the U.N. barracks in Potocari. Aida tries to keep them there and save them.
The role of Aida is played by Jasna Djuricic, who said that she had been preparing for the role for a very long time and that she has watched almost everything there is about Srebrenica,” the Serbian actress revealed.
However, she added that on the set of the film she felt as if she was in Srebrenica because the location itself was identical to that at the U.N. base in 1995.
The character of war criminal Ratko Mladic is played by her husband Boris Isakovic.
Anyone who has doubts about Ratko Mladic should just open YouTube and watch him there, Isakovic said.
“I insisted that the words spoken in 1995 stay the same,” he said. “I didn't even want to change the order of the words in the sentence.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic-related measures introduced by Italy, most of the members of the Bosnia and Herzegovina team have not been able to attend the premiere of the film.
‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’ is the first film in the competition program screened at a major festival after six months of the coronavirus crisis that resulted in the cancelling all major film festivals.