Jasmila Zbanić‘s Quo Vadis, Aida? has been kicking around since last September’s Venice Film Festival, where it premiered. I finally saw it this morning, and I knew within five or ten it was a thumbs-upper. It’s a blistering, horrifying, you-are-there account of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre — 8000 Bosnian men and boys murdered in cold blood by Serbian troops under the command of Ratko Mladic.
It’s not a suspense piece or a classic war drama but a mother’s perspective saga that asks “who if anyone will survive the coming massacre?” You can feel it coming from around the corner.
It focuses on Aida (Jasna Djuricic), a Bosnian translator for blue-helmeted UN troops with enough access to understand that Muslim men in Srebrenica may be in serious danger once Bladic’s Army of Republika Srpska invades.
Aida is politically protected by her job, but her husband (Izudin Bajrovic) and two adult sons (Boris Ler, Dino Bajrovic) are vulnerable. The film is about Aida trying to use her connections to protect her family from the evil intent of General Mladić (Boris Isakovic). If you know anything about Bosnian War chronicles, you know it’s a lost cause.
Quo Vadis, Aida? is the Bosnia-Herzogovina submission for the 2021 Best International Feature Oscar. It should win.
Last night I saw Radu Jade‘s Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn, an oddly shaped Romanian comedy-satire about sexuality, hypocrisy and middle-class rage in modern-day Bucharest.
The star is Katia Pascariu, playing a high-school teacher. It’s composed of three sections. The first is a raunchy home-made sex tape…slurpy, squishy…performed by Katia and her husband.
Chapter 2 is an aimless and meandering downshift in which Katia walks around Bucharest, crossing endless boulevards and walking down endless sidewalks as she hears from her husband that the sex tape has somehow found its way online,l. This naturally alarms as she could lose her job.
Chapter 3 is the best — a contentious parent-teacher meeting in which Katia’s sex tape is discussed and kicked around.
Jade uses three separate endings — one in which Katia is vindicated and keeps her job, another in which she loses it, and a third in which Katia’s fantasy avatar punishes the parents for their small-mindedness.
I was hot to see Bad Luck Banging after it won the the Golden Bear prize at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival. The other Berlinale contenders must have been fairly shitty for Bad Luck Banging to win the big prize.