Balkans, Central Europe can shine in filmdom, Sundance director says

Wed Sep 25, 2013 10:58am EDT
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By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Film directors Bela Tarr of Hungary and Jasmila Zbanic of Bosnia are little known except to aficionados, but the U.S.-based independent Sundance Film Festival sees the Balkans and Central Europe as a fertile ground for the movie industry.

U.S. filmmakers are touring Bosnia to show their movies to audiences in the Balkan state that not only has become a regional film hub but has attracted the interest of some prominent Hollywood and European directors.

"Sarajevo is doing very well on the world stage right now," said John Cooper, the director of the Sundance Film Festival who was in the Bosnian capital to present a program supported by the Sundance Institute and U.S. cultural agencies.

"Sarajevo in particular is fascinating because of its already rich film history and the new film history that is starting here," Cooper told Reuters in an interview.

FILM FORWARD, the three-year-old international touring program, shows selected Sundance films each year in different countries, presenting the filmmakers through a dialogue about the films and different cultures and stories.

This year, Bosnia was chosen along with Mexico, China, Colombia and Jordan.

"You are making history in Sarajevo right now, with the Bela Tarr program and these filmmakers here that have already had some success," Cooper said.

He was referring to the Film Factory opened in Sarajevo this year by Tarr, a revered Hungarian director who established an international doctorate-level film program for mature directors to teach them how to preserve artistic integrity.   Continued...

Director Jasmila Zbanic poses during a photocall to promote the movie "Na Putu" (On the Path) at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, February 18, 2010. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz