Sarajevo festival to show own films for first time

Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:03am EDT
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By Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF), which opens on Friday with debut feature "Snow" by Bosnian director Aida Begic, will for the first time show films produced under its own talent program, fulfilling a dream of its founders.

The festival was started by a small group of enthusiasts as a modest showcase of Western film at the end of the Bosnian 1992-95 war in defiance of Bosnian Serb shelling and the siege of Sarajevo.

Since 1995, it has grown into the biggest festival in the region, spreading from Austria to Turkey, and this year five short films produced as part of the Sarajevo City of Film project will be shown during the nine-day celebration of cinema.

"We see the project as the future of the Sarajevo festival -- to be a platform for discovering and encouraging young film professionals from the whole region and give them a chance to make their first short films," said SFF director Mirsad Purivatra.

The films are low-budget co-productions made this year in Sarajevo by students from the region who attended the festival's Talent Campus last year. Each member of a team comes from a different country.

"I think this is the festival's most significant strategic accomplishment this year - to enter the production process," Purivatra told Reuters, adding that the SFF planned to support the production of one feature next year, along with short films.

"Snow" is directed by Begic, a young Bosnian Muslim female director, and was awarded the International Critics Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Festival.

The film is about a group of Bosnian Muslim villagers, most of them women, returning to their remote village after war.   Continued...

<p>Workers and security personnel stand at the red carpet prepared for the Sarajevo Film Festival in Sarajevo, August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Danilo Krstanovic</p>