Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Film Screening and Discussion: Quo Vadis, Aida?

This event was held virtually as a Zoom webinar and streamed via YouTube Live.

The Harriman Institute is pleased to partner with the Bosnian-Herzegovinan Film Festival, the Post Conflict Research Center, and the Srebrenica Memorial Center to present a virtual screening of the 2020 film Quo Vadis, Aida? (Where Are You Going, Aida?) and a discussion with screenwriter and director Jasmila Žbanić in conversation with Tanya Domi (SIPA/Harriman Institute, Columbia Univeristy), human rights lawyer Sandra OrlovicVelma Saric (Post-Conflict Research Center; Balkan Diskurs), and Emir Suljagić (Srebrenica Genocide Memorial), moderated by Dijana Jelača (Brooklyn College).

Click here to view a PBS interview of Jasmila Žbanić by Christiane Amanpour.

Quo Vadis, Aida? is a new film directed and produced by Jasmila Žbanić, the award-winning filmmaker from Bosnia and Herzegovina who earned the Golden Bear in 2006 for her debut feature Grbavica: The Land of My Dreams. Žbanić’s latest film is a dramatic depiction of the well documented Srebrenica genocide that occurred in Eastern Bosnia on July 11, 1995, when more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by the forces led by Bosnian Serb Army commander General Ratko Mladić.

Aida is a translator for the United Nations in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the town, her family is among the thousands of citizens looking for shelter in the UN camp. As an insider to the negotiations, Aida has access to crucial information that she needs to interpret. What is at the horizon for her family and people—rescue or death? Which move should she take?

With this powerful film, Jasmila Žbanić continues in creating work that bears witness to the unspeakable war trauma of others. As in her documentaries and films such as Grbavica and For Those Who Can Tell No Tales, in this latest work Žbanić draws the viewer in with poignant storytelling and simultaneously conveys the intimacy and the magnitude of the tragedy that unfolds. Quo Vadis, Aida? is Bosnia’s submission to the Academy for Motion Picture and Arts and Sciences in the Foreign Film category. It has been screened at the Venice Film Festival and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

In the twenty-five years since the Srebrenica genocide, many continue to deny its occurrence and immerse themselves in fake news and alternative facts about the event. How can cinema act as a counter-point to such denials of factual reality, in Bosnia and beyond? This theme is now more pertinent than ever on a global scale, including in the United States.

About the Director

Born in Sarajevo in 1974, Jasmila Žbanić is a graduate of her native city’s Academy of Dramatic Arts, Theatre and Film Directing Department. Before filmmaking, she also worked as a puppeteer in the Vermont-based Bread and Puppet Theater and as a clown in a Lee Delong workshop.

Her feature debut Grbavica won the 2006 Berlinale Golden Bear (as well as the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury and the Peace Prize), the AFI (American Film Institute) Fest Grand Jury Prize, Grand Prix Odyssey of the European Council and was sold to forty territories with great success. Nomination Best film and Best acress European Film Award.

On the Path, Žbanić’s second feature film, premiered at the 2010 Berlinale, in the Competition section. The film had worldwide distribution in twenty-five territories and won numerous awards, including Filmkunstfestival Schwerin Award for Best Director, Golden Apricot IFF Yerevan – FIPRESCI Prize, Pula Film Festival 2010 – Golden Arena for Best Director, Nomination – European Film Award for Best Actress.

Žbanić’s third feature, For Those Who Can Tell No Tales, made its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and won the 2013 Femme de Cinema Award at Les Arcs European Film Festival. Love Island premiered at Locarno film festival Grand Palace and was screened at TV ARTE for more then half a million viewers. One Day in Sarajevo experimental documentary had an inter-national premiere at DOC LEIPZIG DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL and thirty more festivals worldwide.

All her films were produced through Deblokada, an artists’ association that she founded. Žbanić’s films and video works have been displayed at dozens of art exhibitions worldwide such as Manifesta 3, the Istanbul Biennial, Kunsthalle Fridericianum Kassel, Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, New Museum in New York… She is the recipient of the 2014 KAIROS Prize which honors European artists whose work is judged to have a major cultural and social impact.

Panelist Biographies

Tanya Domi is an adjunct professor of international and public affairs at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. She is a faculty affiliate of the Harriman Institute where she has taught in the Balkan Studies program for thirteen years. She is also a fellow at the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Domi has authored many essays and journal articles on the Balkans and is a frequent commentator in popular press on human rights, international affairs and atrocity crimes.

Dijana Jelača is a faculty member in the Film Department at Brooklyn College. She is the author of Dislocated Screen Memory: Narrating Trauma in Post-Yugoslav Cinema (Palgrave, 2016) and co-author of Film Feminisms: A Global Introduction (Routledge, 2019, with Kristin Lené Hole). She co-edited several scholarly volumes, including The Routledge Companion to Cinema and Gender (Routledge, 2017) and Jelača’s research interests include transnational feminist film studies, women’s film history, South Slavic film cultures, and socialist women’s cinema. She is widely published. Dijlana is a Programming Co-Director of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival in New York City.

Sandra Orlovic is a human rights lawyer and the former Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Centre in Belgrade, Serbia. Orlovic is a graduate of the Belgrade Law Faculty and the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law where she earned her LLM in 2017. She is currently based in Baghdad, Iraq.



Velma Saric is a researcher, journalist, peacebuilding expert, and human rights defender from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Saric is the Founder and President of the Post-Conflict Research Center, and Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Diskurs. She is a Columbia University fellow, having attended the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability Fellowship Program. As a researcher and producer, she has worked on numerous publications and films about the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, including Uspomene 677, Ordinary Heroes, In the Land of Blood and Honey by Angelina Jolie, I Came to Testify and “War Redefined” from the PBS series Women, War & Peace and most recently, Cases of Evil: Vlasenica.

Dr. Emir Suljagić is a Bosnian journalist and politician who is currently the Director of the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial. He served as Minister of Education of Sarajevo Canton from 13 January 2011 until 29 February 2012 and was also Deputy minister of Defense from 31 March 2015 to 10 December 2015. He is also the author of Postcards from the Grave, the first account of a Srebrenica survivor to be published in English and eight other languages.


Event Video