Doublefeature Beyond War
"There is no collective guilt," Holocaust survivor Prof. Rudolf Gelbard said, "but there is also no collective innocence." The industrial mass murder and extermination of the Jewish population will forever leave a deep scar for which future generations will have to answer. The Holocaust, however, was not an isolated event that came out of nowhere. It was preceded by a long social and political development: anti-Semitism, German nationalism, collapsing multi-ethnic states, economic crises and much more. However, it could only become reality through the abandonment of the democracies in Germany and Austria at the beginning of the 1930s.
Éva Fahidi was 20 years old when she returned to Hungary from Auschwitz-Birkenau. Forty-nine members of her family had been murdered in the Holocaust, including her mother, father and little sister. She was alone. The plot of the documentary "The Euphoria of Being" begins 70 years after the end of World War II - a dance performance by the elderly Éva and the young Emese is meant to visualize the lives of Holocaust survivors.
In the final sequence of "Quo Vadis, Aida?" the protagonist returns to her hometown of Srebrenica after the end of the Yugoslav war. She is alone and claims her apartment, which she had to leave in the wake of the genocide and where one of her sons' murderers now lives with his family.
Many of the few Jews who were able and allowed to return to Austria after the war had similar experiences. Their homes had been appropriated by Nazi bosses and SS henchmen, hardly any of whom wanted to voluntarily return their property to the survivors. The question of restitution continues to occupy the National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism to this day.
In the Balkan wars of the 1990s, paramilitary units made up of civilians played a leading role from the very beginning, alongside the armies. They operate outside the armies' chain of command, but this soon makes them indistinguishable from regular troops in the face of rampant war crimes. Their fighters are driven by a fanatical and rationally incomprehensible bloodlust. Seemingly out of nowhere, they murder their neighbors and their sons, with whom they had been close friends, not infrequently since their earliest youth, and whose children attended the same kindergartens and schools together, sharing hopes, dreams, table and bed. It is a merciless hatred that knows no shame.
Five decades earlier, the same hatred had led to the Holocaust. Among the perpetrators were many Austrians - and in Austria, too, this hatred erupted completely uncontrollably from the deepest abysses of our ancestors, as Carl Zuckmayer describes the days of the Anschluss in the Vienna of March 1938 in his autobiography "Als wärʼs ein Stück von mir" (As if it were a piece of me). In it, he compares the scenes unfolding in the capital to an apocalyptic painting by Hieronymus Bosch:
"Lemurs and half-demons seemed to have crawled out of dirty eggs and risen from swampy holes in the earth. The air was filled with an incessant shrieking, wild, hysterical shrieking, from the throats of men and women, which continued to shrill for days and nights. And all the people lost their faces, resembling distorted grimaces; some in fear, others in lies, others in wild, hateful triumph."
In addition to condemning Ratko Mladić's war crimes, the role of the United Nations was also sharply criticized in connection with the Srebrenica massacre. The poorly equipped and vastly outnumbered contingent of Dutch Blue Helmets had offered no active, i.e., no armed, resistance. At the same time, however, the Dutch had been denied the air support they had requested from a French UN general. The unit was undoubtedly in a military, moral, and legal dilemma. But this finding does not answer the question of guilt. A series of lawsuits eventually led Dutch courts to find that the Netherlands was complicit in the Srebrenica genocide, since the people seeking protection had been denied a chance of survival estimated at about 30%.
Ratko Mladić was not captured and handed over to the International Criminal Court until 2011. Even his sentencing to life imprisonment by the UN Tribunal makes it incomprehensible how such a catastrophe could once again occur before the eyes of the international community, but especially in the middle of Europe. Thousands of Bosnian women had lost their husbands and sons to mass murder. "The mothers of Srebrenica" were faced with nothing. Every single one of them was alone.
At the proud age of 90, Éva Fahidi, without hesitation, accepts director Réka Szabó's offer to stage a dance performance about her life, together with young dancer Emese Cuhorka. "The Euphoria of Being" accompanies the three women on the path they take during the rehearsal process. In the process, a magical connection develops between the generations that cannot be put into words. In her film, Réka Szabó makes a moment tangible in which there is neither guilt nor responsibility, but only the only thing that can be stronger than eternal hatred.
09:15 pm Friday, June 18th 2021
Doublefeature „Beyond War“ – Part 1
Quo Vadis, Aida?
2021, Jasmila Žbanić
Bosnia, July 1995: Aida, a teacher, works as a translator for the UN in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army captures the town, her family, along with tens of thousands of other residents of the town, seek shelter in the UN camp. Aida's husband, director of a local school, is supposed to negotiate the flight of the Muslim population with Serbian General Ratko Mladić. But the situation comes to a head.
Aida's fate represents that of an entire generation of women who survived the war in Bosnia. Of the 8000 civilians, it was almost entirely their husbands and sons who were murdered in the Srebrenica genocide. A brutal and violent extermination that ranks among the darkest chapters in world history. The atrocities that accompanied the Yugoslav wars, but especially the Srebrenica massacre, are reminiscent of the Holocaust. Deep wounds remain for many generations and yet, against all odds, a new coexistence must become possible in a new world. The film "Quo Vadis, Aida?", jointly financed by many European countries, is not only brilliant and fast-paced, but also an essential contribution to coming to terms with contemporary European history. Director Jasmila Žbanić refrains from any form of instruction. She neither laments the suffering nor the horror, but trusts at all times the great script, which is based on those events as they happened in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995. Above all, Žbanić succeeds in making the terror of this war visible without showing the physical violence.
Jasna Đuričić stands out among the magnificent cast. Austrian cinematographer Christine A. Maier captures the events in straightforward yet sensitive images that join the international ranks of outstanding camera work.
Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Netherlands, Germany, ...
Director of Photography
Austrian Academy Awards
09:15 pm Saturday, June, 19th 2021
Doublefeature „Beyond War“ – Part 2
The Euphoria Of Being
2019, Réka Szabó
Éva Fahidi was 20 years old when she returned to Hungary from Auschwitz-Birkenau. 49 members of her family had been murdered in the Holocaust, including her mother, father and little sister. She was alone.
70 years later, at the age of 90, Éva is asked to participate in a dance theater performance about her life. Réka, the director, imagines a duet between Éva and the young, internationally acclaimed dancer Emese. Réka wants to see these two women, young and old, interact on stage to see how their bodies and their stories can intertwine. Éva immediately agrees.
Three women - three months - a story of crossing borders. As key moments from Éva's life are distilled into theatrical scenes, a powerful relationship develops between the three women.
The Euphoria of Being shows a dance that transcends time and, with each step, drives into the ground the fascism of then as well as that of now, searching for a future in the commonality of the present and the past. A film that touches the soul and leaves us with a smile and courage to face our lives and responsibilities.
Sylvie Gadmer, Péter Sass