The director of the best European film of 2021 ‘Quo vadis, Aida,’ Jasmila Zbanic, said for N1 Tuesday that the initiative to air her film on Serbian national television RTS is good, and that the Serbian audience needs to see it.
In her opinion, the ongoing situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina will only change when Bosnians realise that political elites are getting richer by causing divisions among people and instead of uniting and making something significant, the people only become ever smaller.
Jasmila Zbanic who was declared the best European director of 2021 expressed pleasure at the initiative to air her film about the Srebrenica genocide of 1995 on the Radio Television of Serbia (RTS).
“I think the audience in Serbia should see the best European film and see why their Jasna Djuricic is the best European actress of 2021. I’d be very glad for this to happen. But the question is how independent is the RTS,” Zbanic said.
When asked if she expected people across the world to sympathize with Aida, the main character in her film, she said “Everyone understands a mother fighting for her children.”
“It was very important to me to find a way to bring our problems closer to other people, a way to introduce them to the story. This is very important in terms of screenwriting, but also in terms of directing. I decided to start the film with a shot of a contemplative woman. The very image that I direct and put on certain music and light – introduces the viewer to the story. So, it's about family and a situation in which everyone can find themselves. I chose every role carefully, even the smallest one. With the help of phenomenal assistants, we carefully selected extras. I didn’t want to show explicit violence, but I left it for the viewers to conclude,” Zbanic said.
Speaking about the importance of big prizes for the BiH cinematography, she said they are important because many people hear about films in that way.
“When we did the test shows, we saw that a lot of Europeans, and especially Americans, don’t know what happened in Srebrenica. After the film, a lot of people started researching the events in Srebrenica,” Zbanic noted.
Asked if she was worried about the attitude of Serbia and Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity towards war crimes and criminals, she said it was interesting to her when there was all the fuss about the law prohibiting the denial of genocide and glorification of war crimes in BiH and she had to explain to her foreign friends that people are protesting because they can’t celebrate war criminals. That was not clear to them. She noted that it is extremely unhealthy to identify with people who are criminals.
“When Ratko Mladic (Republika Srpska Army commander convicted for Srebrenica genocide) received his final sentence, I felt terrible sadness because this man brought his people into a terrible position. People in BiH, in the RS, live really miserably. Except for the one percent that profited from the crime. If the people do not understand that the elite is doing this just for the sake of getting rich, then there is no help for them. This path led by the current aspiration to isolate RS, even more, will not bring good to any BiH citizen. Instead of teaming up and doing something significant, we only get smaller. They are yet to see how badly they will live,” Zbanic told N1.
Speaking about her ideal Bosnia as a homeland, Zbanic said:
“I just came back from beautiful Canada, but this is such a beautiful country with wonderful and talented people that I can’t understand how we can’t get together. This is not some false patriotism. I really see the possibility in which equal citizens live in BiH. I, like the Others, do not have equal rights. It is terrible to live under such injustice. If I were to direct a fairy tale called Bosnia and Herzegovina, I would create the role that every 10 years people have to be of different ethnicity. So, a Bosniak from Sarajevo must be a Serb in the next period, and the same goes for a Serb from Banja Luka or a Croat from Livno. I think that would heal the country because we lack the breadth of perspective.”