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Croatian films and filmmakers at 26th Sarajevo Film Festival

This year’s Sarajevo Film Festival Competition programmes have been announced, which will go ahead as planned, between 14th and 21st August, both on-site and online, in line with the circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Croatian titles and Croatian minority co-productions will screen in Feature Film, Documentary, Short Film and Student Film competitions, while for several of the titles these will be world premieres. In addition, Croatian filmmakers will appear on the juries of the Feature Film, Student Film and Documentary competitions.      

This year, the SFF’s programming team, headed by Izeta Građević, the festival’s Creative Director, have seen 750 films: 130 fiction features, 220 documentaries, 250 short and 150 student films. A total of 49 films will compete for the Heart of Sarajevo Awards in different sections of the competition. The four Competition programmes – Fiction, Documentary, Short and Student – will include 29 world, six international, two European, 11 regional and one national premiere.   

One of the films to have a regional premiere is Andrea Štaka’s Mare, appearing in the Feature Film Competition. Starring in the film are Marija Škaričić and Goran Navojec, while the film was shot entirely on locations around Konavle in the south of Croatia. The Swiss-Croatian co-production is the result of a collaboration between production companies Okofilm Productions, with Thomas Imbach and Andrea Štaka as producers, and Dinaridi Film, with Tena Gojić as co-producer. The story portrays a family of five, in which the mom, despite living a relatively happy family life, becomes tempted to leave behind her routine daily life. The Mare world premiere took place in the Panorama section of the 70th Berlin International Film Festival.   

The 26th Sarajevo FF Documentary Competition will also include the world premiere of Đuro Gavran’s One of Us. The film problematizes domestic violence, centring around a high school reunion, on the eve of which the author and his former classmates receive a harrowing letter from one of the other students describing the systematic abuse she endured for years. The film traces a group of young people trying to come to terms with the shocking realization that sheds a completely new light on the years they spent growing up together. In addition to directing the film, Đuro Gavran wrote the screenplay and produced the film. Damjan Nenadić, Bojan Mrđenović and Tonči Gaćina are credited with the cinematography, Nina Velnić edited the film, while Mak Murtić composed the music. The film is a Pipser production.

Competing for the title of best film in SFF Short Film competition are two Croatian titles: Antiotpad, directed by Tin Žanić and Microcassette – The Smallest Cassette I've Ever Seen, directed by duo Igor Bezinović and Ivana Pipal.

For Antiotpad, a Dinaridi Film production, this will be the world premiere. In addition to co-directing the film together with Filip Romac and Jan Klemsche, Tin Žanić also wrote the screenplay, while Filip Romac was the director of photography and Jan Klemsche edited the film. Martin Semenčić created the sound design, Irena Stolla was in charge of costume design, while Jana Pećaš created the production design. Bernard Tomić and Roman Sem-Tuksar head up the cast, while Tena Gojić and Dora Prpić produced the film. Antiotpad traces the ripple effect of violence emanating from the problematic Zagreb adolescent as he approaches the breaking point.

Microcassette – The Smallest Cassette I've Ever Seen, produced by Bonobostudio, will have its world premiere in the same programme. Igor Bezinović and Ivana Pipal co-directed the film and together wrote the screenplay. Ivana Pipal also created the animation, while cinematography was done by Ivan Slipčević. Maida Srabović edited the film, Martin Semenčić created the sound design, Hrvoje Nikšić composed the music, while Đorđe Branković and Petra Zlonoga star in the film, produced by Vanja Andrijević, with Dragana Jovović and Marta Popivoda as co-producers. The film was created as a co-production with Serbian production house Teorija na delu, while the story centres around Zoki who accidentally stumbles onto a microcassette amidst the heaps of garbage at a large landfill on the island of Lošinj.   

Two Croatian titles will also have their world premieres in the Student Film competition: Angina Pectoris, directed by Filip Mojzeš and Faceless by director David Lušičić. Both films are Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb productions.

The names of the jury members of the Feature Film, Student Film, and Documentary Competition programmes have also been confirmed.

Among the members of the jury for Feature Film is Croatian actress Jadranka Đokić, the recipient of this year’s Vladimir Nazor Award in the field of theatre art, for her roles in the plays Idiot and Three Sisters. The president of the jury is French director and screenwriter Michel Hazanavicius, while the other members of the jury include Serbian director Srdan Golubović, Artistic Director of Berlin International Film Festival Carlo Chatrian and the head of the Industry and Education Department of the Morelia Film Festival, Andrea Stavenhage.

Croatian director Goran Dević is part of the Jury for Documentary Film of the 26th Sarajevo Film Festival. His documentary and fiction films have been awarded at Pula, Cottbus, Prizren, Prague, Sarajevo, Oberhausen, Leipzig, Motovun and Zagreb. Retrospectives of his documentaries were screened at Arsenal Berlin, Crossing Europe Filmfestival Linz, Beldocs and Zagreb. He is the founder of the production company Petnaesta umjetnost. Apart from Dević, the Documentary Competition jury also includes producer Lejla Dedić from B&H and Danish documentary film critic Tue Steen Müller.

The best student film will be decided, among others, by Croatian producer Lana Matić, who has produced numerous films screened and awarded at prestigious festivals such as Berlinale, Sundance and Cannes, the most recent of which are Srdan Golubović's FatherBarefoot Emperor by Jessica Woodworth and Peter Brosens, and Mali by Antonio Nuić, a Croatian candidate for Oscar nomination in the category of International Feature Film. Lana Matić is one of the founders of the Zagreb Film Festival. In addition to her, the jury of the student film competition program also includes the coordinator for international relations at the Film Center of Serbia, Anđelija Andrić, and the general manager at Cinéfondation Cannes, Georges Goldenstern.

The 26th Sarajevo Film Festival will open with the world premiere of B&H filmmaker Pjer Žalica’s third feature, Focus, Grandma, which will also mark the third time that one of his films inaugurates the festival. The film is set in 1992, as the multitudinous family, scattered across the entire Yugoslavia, gather in Sarajevo on the deathbed of the family’s matriarch. The film’s cast includes talents from the region Jasna Žalica, Emir Hadžihafizbegović, Alma Prica, Jadranka Đokić, Vedrana Božinović, Admir Glamočak, Dženita Imamović, Bane  Popović, Izudin Bajrović, Dino Sarija and Mira Banjac

The festival has also announced that it would confer its Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award on Mexican director, screenwriter and producer Michel Franco.  

The 26th Sarajevo Film Festival will be held as scheduled, 14th – 21st August, both on-site and online, in line with the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

We are fully aware of the responsibility we have as the organizer of such an event,” said Festival Director Mirsad Purivatra.

Covid-19 has affected all aspects of life worldwide, and the Sarajevo Film Festival has thus been required to go through a transformation as well. That means smaller groups, fewer guests, no receptions and parties as we know it, but, as always, lots of high-quality films, great screenings and film talks. Our mission remains the same as it has been since the day our festival was founded in a besieged city – to celebrate life, humanity and the arts. Now, once again, we have an opportunity to use culture to fight adversity – by organizing a festival in line with the advice of health experts and behaving responsibly within well-defined guidelines, we can show that social cohesion can be built even when we need to maintain physical distance.”

For all other information about the festival, visit Sarajevo Film Festival’s official website

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