Sarajevo Film Festival 2012
The centre of the regional film industry turns 18
From 6 July, Sarajevo becomes the film capital of the Southeast European region for nine days. The Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF) is in its 18th year and is proud of the fact that, thanks to the festival, Sarajevo can now be counted among the leading film centres of Europe all year round.
The recipe for success – giving a platform to regional films, supporting film production and bringing together writers and producers – proved fruitful from the festival’s beginnings. The region focussed on goes beyond the borders of Southern Europe and encompasses Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Croatia, Malta, Macedonia, Austria, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary and Cyprus, with films from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldavia also competing for the sought-after festival prizes from next year onwards – prizes that launch the films and their creators in the international film scene.
The organisers have announced that there will be 17 programmes in ten locations, 210 films from 57 countries, more than 2,500 guests, 800 journalists from 34 countries and over 100,000 visitors. The venues include the National Theatre and modern cinemas as well as open-air locations such as the Metalac schoolyard or the fire station’s inner courtyard.
Austrian films in the competition programme
Nine films from the region will be fighting it out for the Best Film prize this year, which was won last year by the Austrian film Atmen (Breathe) by Karl Markovics. The host country is represented this year by Aida Begić’s Djeca (Children), which was awarded the Special Distinction of the Jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Two Austrian films will be competing for the Heart of Sarajevo award for Best Film, worth € 16,000 - Grenzgänger (Crossing Boundaries) by Florian Flicker and What is Love by Ruth Mader. Four of the nine films are debut works and four are by women. While the competition programmer Elma Tataragić believes that the financial crisis has had a significant effect on the region’s film industry, the number of movies actually finished has nevertheless increased.
In the Short Film category, there are ten films competing this year for the main award. Most of them are by young writers. It is noticeable that the quality of the regional short films improves every year. Unser Lied (One Song) by Catalina Molina is the Austrian short film entry.
There are 22 films in the documentary competition, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Out of 155 films submitted, the programmer Rada Šešić has chosen documentaries exuding courage and provocation and inspiring new questions, as well as stimulating their viewers and making them think, such as the Austrian documentary Trains of Thoughts by Timo Novotny or Mama Illegal by Ed Moschitz, both of which are celebrating their regional premieres at the SFF.
Other popular festival programmes
The programme that is most popular with audiences involves the films being screened in the open-air venue of the Metalac schoolyard, which not only has the most seats and a wonderful summer evening atmosphere, but also features the most sought-after international films. These include The Angels’ Share, the winner of the Jury Award in Cannes, the French hit Intouchables or I, Anna. The latter will be presented in Sarajevo by the director Barnaby Southcombe, the actress Charlotte Rampling and the producer Christopher Simon.
Other programmes this year are the ‘Tribute to Todd Solondz’, dedicated to the American scriptwriter and independent film producer, the ‘Teen Arena’, ‘In Focus’ – which includes the controversial film Paradies: Liebe (Paradise: Love) by the Austrian SFF regular Ulrich Seidl – or ‘BH Film’, a programme featuring 15 films by Bosnian writers.
Programmes providing support
Important programmes for the SFF are those like ‘CineLink’, a kind of co-production market where scriptwriters, directors and producers can get together, designed to support the making of new films. ‘Sarajevo – City of Film’ is a programme aimed at helping the up-and-coming film scene in the region. Another part of the festival aimed at young film makers is the ‘Sarajevo Talent Campus’, a cooperation with the Berlinale which involves film professionals training young film makers during the SFF.
No airs and graces, please!
There was of course a great deal of general enthusiasm last year, when the Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt suddenly turned up on the festival’s last evening and attended the award ceremony. However, in the days that followed, the media and film audiences found their appearance rather inappropriate, since star guests up to then, such as John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi or Jeremy Irons had been present at the SFF because of their films and also hadn’t upstaged the winners at the award ceremony. The Sarajevo audiences want SFF director Miro Purivatra to put on a festival such as the SFF has always been – without airs and graces, in a cosy, intimate and joyful atmosphere throughout the entire inner city.