The Oscar category of Best International Feature should be taken literally given the financing and five-year process it took to get it for Bosnia and Herzegovina nominee Quo Vadis, Aida? A consortium on nine countries jumped on board to make the most expensive film yet to come out of Bosnia, but it was well worth the effort as writer-director Jasmila Zbanic explained during Deadline’s Contenders Film: The Nominees virtual event.
“It was a very long journey but luckily the European system allowed us to collect all the money needed,” she said, noting Bosnia itself could only contribute a small percentage of what was needed to tell this fictionalized tale of a woman’s fight to save her family during the true events of the 1995 genocide in a Bosnian town at the hand of the Serbs, who came in and took it over.
“It tells not only what is going on in Bosnia in 1995, but what is going on in the world today if we are not careful enough to keep our democratic institutions safe and to take care of what is going on,” she said.
Lead actress Jasna Djuricic, in an extraordinary performance, took great risk of being called a traitor in her native Serbia for taking on the role since that country does not acknowledge these events or the genocide. Zbanic says Djuricic was “so brave” to accept the part.
“I was amazed by the energy and strength of the many women who survived the genocide,” said the director, one of many Oscar-nominated female directors this year. “All that made me angry and furious, but I had to get rid of that anger and just get the movie made.”