The Sarajevo film festival, launched during the Bosnian war, has celebrated its 20th anniversary. Amongst the special guests were English directors Mike Leigh and Michael Winterbottom.
The festival has become a major marketplace and networking hotspot for co-productions and financing movie projects made in south-east Europe. This year over 700 film-makers came to the festival hoping to do business, including many young film-makers looking for a break.
Mirsad Purivatra, the festival’s director said: “The whole region has a new talented generation making films about new subjects. In the ex-Yugoslavia we are slowly putting the war behind us. In film, we are considering transitions, family affairs and about the problems and challenges faced by the new generation.”
American photographer Annie Leibovitz made a surprise appearance at the festival. It was her first visit to Sarajevo since she made a photo report about the city 20-years-ago. She commented: “There is so much energy brought to Sarajevo. I mean, Saraevo was just like… you know, after a forest fire the flowers and the grass comes back up. So it just feels really alive here now, and it’s a privilege to be here.”
The Heart of Sarajevo, which is worth 16,000 euros, and is awarded for the best film at the festival, went to “Song of My Mother”, a debut feature film from Turkish director Erol Mintas. And the film’s lead actor, Feyyaz Duman, scooped the prize for Best Actor. He played a schoolteacher who still lives with his mother. But when his girlfriend gets pregnant, he has to make a choice.
Erol Mintas, said: ‘‘It is about a family of Kurdish refugees living in Istanbul. We try to show what Kurds have faced in recent years and don’t want to face again.”
Feyyaz Duman, the lead actor in the film, said: ‘‘Kurdish is not taught in schools so it was a little bit hard to work in it. When you are a writer you have to use the language professionally. It was my first experience of working in Kurdish but as we won a prize I guess we made a good job of it.’‘
Brides also won two awards, the special jury award went to Georgian director Tinatin Kajrishvili and the best actress went to Mari Kitia who plays the lead role. The movie is about a woman who marries the father of her children when he is sent to prison in order to gain the right to visit him once a month. But then she meets another man.
Una Gunjak won the prize for the best short film, and accepted the award with Iman Alibalic, who stared in the film. The Chicken is set in Sarajevo during the war and deals with a child who is given a live chicken for her birthday.
This year’s festival attracted nearly 250 films from 60 different countries.