New Bosnian film on Srebrenica screened at place of massacre

SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - After the acclaimed Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic premiered her latest feature film at the Venice Film Festival last month and broadcast it to the international festival, she returned to Bosnia to host what she claims to be that "Most" of the film referred to emotional screening.
Zbanic's film about the 1995 Srebrenica massacre - "Quo Vadis, Aida?" - had its first public performance in Bosnia on Saturday at the memorial in the unfortunate city for the more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys who were slaughtered there a quarter of a century ago.
Based on real events, the film tells the story of a Bosnian woman, Aida, who tries to save her husband and sons while she works as a translator for the United Nations.
Survivors and witnesses of massacres took part in the event, but also young men and women invited by Zbanic from the ethnically and politically divided country.
Among the audience was 34-year-old Almasa Sekovic, who witnessed her teenage brother being taken away for execution. She said the film brought back the "smells and sounds" of Srebrenica in July 1995.
"I think it's very important that as many people as possible see this film," she said.
The Srebrenica massacre was the culmination of the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995, in which the country's three main ethnic factions - Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims known as Bosniaks - competed against each other after the fall of Yugoslavia.
It was also a sign of shame for the international community that Srebrenica had been declared the United States' “safe haven” for civilians, but the outnumbered, superior international peacekeeping forces could only watch as the Bosnian Serb forces took the men and boys separated from the city for execution.
Two and a half decades later, the slaughter of Serbian political leaders, defined as genocide by two United Nations courts, is still systematically denied despite irrefutable evidence of what happened.
Zbanic researched and spoke to survivors and witnesses of massacres for 10 years. Persistent ethnic divisions in Bosnia turned a film "about a woman trying to save her family from death" into something akin to "walking through a political minefield," she said.
“But I told the story from a female perspective. The spectacle of the war did not seduce me, ”said Zbanic.
She said he hoped her film could serve as an "emotional bridge" not only for the divided youth in her country, but also for the rest of the world.
“When I watch films and find patriotic things about war, I can't identify with them. I hoped people would identify with Aida, the main character in the film, because wars are mundane and evil and there is nothing good in them, ”she said.
While unifying Bosnia's various communities into a single narrative about the war in the impoverished nation, where political leaders continue to exploit ethnic distrust, remains a major challenge, Zbanic said she was moved by the feedback from young viewers.
An ethnic Serb, Sladjan Tomic, said during the post-film discussion that he hoped those who are still celebrating the perpetrators will see the film.
"I was born a Serb, that's my given identity, but my ethnicity doesn't define me," said Tomic.
Zbanic agreed, expressing the belief that her film draws important lessons not only for Bosnia but also for democratic societies around the world that are increasingly plagued by the rise of populism and nationalism.
Niksic reported from Sarajevo.

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