13rd Sarajevo Film Festival

Bosnia-Herzegovina, August 12 - August 20 2009

The jury

Léo Soesanto (France), Damir Radic (Croatia), Nadezhda Mihaylova Marinchevska (Bulgaria)

Awarded films

Here in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is exhilarating to see that the Sarajevo International Film Festival is a lively experience in any sense, from its beginning as an act of resistance during the war in ex-Yugoslavia to now, with its packed screenings, youthful energy and neverending nightlife. This 15th edition proved once again the strenghts of the festival: showing the best of Balkan and neighbouring countries’ productions – whether they’re long, short or documentary – and being open to the world. This implies welcoming art house and foreign cinema (through a retrospective of Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke) and glamour with prestigious stars such as Gillian Anderson and Mickey Rourke to grace red carpets and meeting with the audience. Industry speaking, SIFF keeps working out its position of being a hub in the region with its Cinelink, a market where directors submit their projects to potential funders, and the Talent Campus, in association with its Berlinale’s original counterpart, to train young people wanting to be part of the film world.

The direct outcome of these efforts took form this year through the Sarajevo City of Film project, which is a fund supporting the making of short very-low-budget films, shot in three days and created through artistic and technical cooperation between young film authors from South-Eastern Europe. This idea is also to use Sarajevo as a setting for these works: the best film (and award-winner of the Atlantic Grupa Award created for the occasion), among the five completed films is the one which refuses to take the city as a touristic spot – Liberation in 26 Pictures, by Bosnian directors Ivan Ramljak and Marko Škobalj.

Back to the main competition of feature films, the FIPRESCI jury was very impressed by a handful of strong works. Among them are Eastern Plays, by Bulgarian director Kamen Kalev, for its invisible mise-en-scene and sharp depiction of Bulgarian society, First of All, Felicia (Felicia, Inainte de Toate), by Romanian and Dutch directors Razvan Radulescu and Melissa de Raaf, an intimate film about generations gap, graced by its actress Ozana Oancea, and Dogtooth (Kynodonta), by Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos, with its provocative mix of Pasolini-Ozon-Haneke sadistic family games. The FIPRESCI prize went finally to Ordinary People (by Serbian director Vladimir Perisic), a very unusual take (with long takes) on war film genre, morality and violence during the war in ex-Yugoslavia and everywhere in the world. Mr Perisic’s objectivity dissects the chilling process of automatic barbarism and obedience, without excluding sensuous and surprising twists under the sun (Leo Soesanto, edited by Tara Judah).

Sarajevo International Film Festival: www.sff.ba