The 2022 LUX Audience Award goes to Quo Vadis, Aida?

The 2022 LUX Audience Award goes to Quo Vadis, Aida?

This noon, during a ceremony held in Strasbourg, the European Parliament announced the winner of the 2022 LUX Audience Award. Quo Vadis, Aida? by Jasmila Žbanić emerged as the second laureate of the newly launched pan-European award, presented by the European Parliament and the European Film Academy in partnership with the European Commission and Europa Cinemas. Žbanić’s powerful drama triumphed over the other two finalists, Flee [+] by Jonas Poher Rasmussen and Great Freedom by Sebastian Meise, rounding up a long and successful run for the film, which world premiered in Venice back in 2020, when it became one of the most acclaimed titles of the season.

After the announcement of the three finalists during the 34th European Film Awards, which took place on 11 December 2021, European audiences and the Members of the European Parliament had the chance to rate their favourite films among this year’s nominees, which once again represent the diversity of European cinema and the commitment of the award to shedding light on important topics that go to the heart of the European public debate, particularly the fight for human rights. After the closing of the voting period, Quo Vadis, Aida? came out as the title with the highest average rating from the public and the MEPs (with each group weighing 50 per cent), in a year that saw a significant increase in participation compared to the last edition.

President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, who presented the award to the winner, said: “The European Parliament stands clearly for freedom of expression in film, for directors, storytellers and authors alike. The LUX Audience Award builds bridges between our political work and the creative work of filmmakers in Europe. LUX films echo through art the sentiment of the fight for civil rights, human rights, justice, democracy and freedom. This year, the three LUX Award nominees share a common message: the struggle for freedom, a fundamental value of the European Union [...] All three shortlisted films draw from history, but their subjects are extremely topical today.” Regarding the winning film, Metsola also expressed: “This film is a strong call for justice for the women and mothers of Srebrenica who witnessed the atrocious killing of over 8 thousand loved ones. Such horrendous atrocities and crimes against humanity must never be forgotten.” Chair of the Committee on Culture Sabine Verheyen and Vice-President Evelyn Regner presented the prizes to the runners-up.

Director Jasmila Žbanić collected the prize, sharing her concerns about the connection between her film and the current situation in Ukraine: “When I was preparing the film, I thought the war in the Balkans was the last one to happen in Europe. I was so shocked to learn that we Europeans allowed war in Ukraine. That we didn't find a way to prevent it. I really urge you all to find ways to stop the war [...] and take care of the countries that are not part of the European Union but want to join. We really need the EU to help us.” Žbanić was accompanied by Munira Subašić, president of the Srebrenica Mothers Association and survivor of the genocide, who also took the stage and gave a moving speech: “The worst thing in the world is to wait for justice, and we have been waiting for it for 27 years [...] I survived the genocide, but many members of my family were killed, including some of my children. I begged God to make sure mothers never experience what we experienced, that no mother would look for the bones of their children. But right now, mothers in Ukraine and Russia are crying. I beg you, stop the war in Ukraine. Stop the suffering. Thank you all who voted for this film.”

Žbanić’s heart-breaking story focuses on Aida (an outstanding performance by Jasna Đuričić), a school teacher and mother turned UN translator during the Bosnian War, desperately trying to save her family from the Srebrenica genocide that took place in 1995. Žbanić’s depiction of the massacre, one of the most tragic events in recent European history, throws us directly into a nerve-racking race against the clock inside the UN camp that was supposed to safeguard the area, showing the chain of events and decisions that lead to the tragic outcome.

A truly European co-production, Quo vadis, Aida? was produced by Damir Ibrahimovich and Žbanić for Deblokada Produkcija (Bosnia and Herzegovina), in co-production with Coop99 (Austria), Digital Cube (Romania), Extreme Emotions (Poland), Indie Prod (France), N279 Entertainment (The Netherlands), Razor Film Produktion (Germany), Tordenfilm AS (Norway) and TRT (Turkey), with the backing of Österreichischer Rundfunk (Austria). The film is sold worldwide by Indie Sales. After its world premiere in Competition at the 77th Venice Film Festival, the film gathered several awards at different international film festivals and was selected as Bosnia and Herzegovina's Oscar submission for the Best International Feature Film category.

The three 2022 LUX Audience Award finalists, which have been subtitled in the 24 official EU languages, will continue travelling across Europe in the upcoming weeks. In addition, Quo Vadis, Aida? will be adapted for visually and hearing impaired audiences and further promoted in the different Member States. All the information about upcoming screenings can be found on the LUX Audience Award official website.

by Jesús Silva Vilas, Cineuropa