Women war survivors were her biggest inspiration for filming 'Quo Vadis, Aida?', the Oscar nominee director Jasmila Zbanic told German media in the week ahead of the Academy Awards ceremony.
“Those women are still captured by their memories, those events are part of their lives today,” Zbanic said, speaking to German daily Tageszeitung. “It all pushed me to make this film.”
Although the main character in the film is Aida, a translator working with the UN base in the eastern town of Srebrenica, Zbanic said she actually told the story of translator Hasan Nuhanovic, whose family had to leave the UN offices, while the Serb soldiers were waiting outside.
“There was nothing he could do for them. That's the drama that shows how war is forcing people to do things they could not imagine doing,” said Zbanic.
According to her, the film script was changed several times until she found the right approach – a mother trying to protect her children. She was trying to find an answer to the question: what happens with the psychology of a woman who wants to protect her two sons but is unable to do that?
The women survivors gathered around the Mothers of Srebrenica association have been seeking the truth about and justice for what had happened, said the filmmaker, adding that they always say that everyone has to continue living together in the future.
“Aida also returned to Srebrenica because that's where her memories are, the graves of her family members as well as all returnees, she doesn't want to live anywhere else but where her memories are,” Zbanic explained.
Answering the journalist's remark that true reconciliation cannot happen until the Serb public is capable of admitting that genocide did happen in Srebrenica, Zbanic made a mention of two messages that she got after the film premiered in Srebrenica.
“One young man from Istocno Sarajevo (Sarajevo's neighbouring city within Bosnia's Serb-majority region Republika Srpska) told me that he cried as he watched the film. He wished his friends who still glorify war criminals were there. A young man from Belgrade wrote to me on Instagram: ‘You won't believe me, I have been devastated for three days, I am crying, this is a huge step for me towards a different understanding of the past’,” she said.
‘Quo Vadis, Aida?’ was officially nominated for the Oscar in mid-March, becoming the second Bosnian film to compete for this prestigious award.
Bosnian filmmaker Danis Tanovic won the only Oscar in 2002 for his ‘No Man's Land’ film.