Sarajevo Head Mirsad Purivatra: Festival ‘Spirit Cannot be Destroyed’

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For lots of the guests who descended on the Berlin Movie Festival earlier this 12 months, packing their day planners with conferences on the Gropius Bau and red-carpet premieres on the Berlinale Palast, there was a surreal sense of enterprise as regular. However with coronavirus already ravaging Italy—and shortly to be sweeping throughout the remainder of Europe—Sarajevo Movie Festival director Mirsad Purivatra knew that he and his staff had little time to spare.

“We began instantly to assume what to do with our competition,” Purivatra informed Selection on the eve of Sarajevo’s 26th version, which runs Aug. 14-21. Despite the fact that the competition’s opening night time was nonetheless months away, “we had [in mind] the worst-case state of affairs that it may be a foul scenario with the numbers of COVID-19” circumstances in Bosnia.

As spring turned to summer time, Purivatra and his colleagues have been assured {that a} scaled-down model of the bodily competition may nonetheless be held within the Bosnian capital, with open-air venues being marshaled into service and social-distancing protocols enacted. However these plans have been scrapped simply days earlier than opening night time, with the competition topper making the tough determination to maneuver all film screenings and trade occasions to a not too long ago launched VOD platform.

Purivatra has no regrets in regards to the transfer. “We have been very disenchanted, however on the opposite aspect, we’re right here to comply with directions, and that is the precedence primary—to [protect] the well being of our residents, our friends,” he mentioned.

Regardless of the setback and the frantic, last-minute preparations, the Sarajevo Movie Festival has put collectively a strong program of screenings, workshops, displays, panel discussions and trade occasions, beginning with opening night time movie “Focus, Grandma,” by director and Sarajevo native Pjer Žalica, who opened the competition with “Fuse” in 2003 and “Days and Hours” in 2004.

Among the many highlights of the CineLink Business Days program will be the influential CineLink Co-Manufacturing Market, one of many main platforms for tasks from Southeast Europe and the broader area. Pitching periods will be held from Aug. 15-19 for the 16 movies looking for worldwide companions. Pitches for CineLink Drama, a co-financing discussion board presenting 5 high-end drama collection from the area, will be out there on-line all through the competition.

The Selection Streaming Room will current the 2020 Sarajevo Movie Festival’s Masterclass collection Aug. 17-21, that includes intimate hour-long conversations with award-winning worldwide filmmakers and actors. Featured audio system embrace Michel Hazanavicius, director (“The Artist,” “The Search”) and jury president; actor Bérénice Bejo (“The Artist,” “The Search”); author, director and producer Michel Franco (“Persistent,” “Las Hijas de Abril”); filmmaker, author and producer Rithy Panh (“The Lacking Image,” “Graves With no Title”); and actor Mads Mikkelsen (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Dr. Unusual”).

Eight movies will be competing for the Coronary heart of Sarajevo, with competitors programmer Elma Tataragić noting that this 12 months’s choice underscores the competition’s conventional function as a launching pad for administrators from the area.

“We’ve at all times nurtured younger and up-coming filmmakers, and this 12 months’s choice is definitively according to our goals and targets as a movie competition,” mentioned Tataragić. The choice contains first options from six administrators, in addition to the second movie from Kosovo-born director Visar Morina (“Exile”), and the third characteristic from Switzerland’s Andrea Štaka (“Mare”).

Tataragić sees a standard thread in movies that “symbolize and comply with the custom of East and South European cinema, which is by some means at all times linked to widespread individuals and their on a regular basis burdens and issues.”

The titles rounding out the competitors are “Andromeda Galaxy,” from Kosovo’s Extra Raça; “Mavzer,” by Turkish helmer Fatih Özcan; “Otto the Barbarian,” by Romanian director Ruxandra Ghițescu; “The Island Inside,” from Azerbaijan’s Ru Hasanov; “All of the Fairly Little Horses,” by Greek director Michalis Konstantatos, which world premiered in Shanghai; and “Digger,” from Greece’s Georgis Grigorakis, which had its world premiere in Berlin.

“All of the movies are recent, unpredictable and thrilling with sturdy level of views and cinematic method,” mentioned Tataragić. “All of them are from totally different views chatting with the instances we dwell in in a very recent and fascinating method, even when we don’t essentially agree with them. All of them are opening a dialogue, which is possibly an important factor immediately.”

The pandemic has compelled many filmmakers to reassess their competition methods, weighing the potential advantages of a prestigious fest’s imprimatur in opposition to the attainable draw back of an internet premiere. But Purivatra was heartened that greater than 40 characteristic, documentary, and quick movies will launch on Sarajevo’s VOD platform, together with Žalica’s “Focus, Grandma”; “You Will Keep in mind Me,” directed by Canada’s Eric Tessier; and “Small City Wisconsin,” the most recent characteristic from Niels Mueller (“The Assassination of Richard Nixon”). The American helmer informed Purivatra that he had such fond recollections of the competition that he wished to supply his movie’s world premiere as a “present to Sarajevo.”

Regardless of the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, this 12 months’s version of the Sarajevo Movie Festival is however a reminder that the inaugural fest was held 1 / 4 of a century in the past, when town was within the midst of a four-year siege. The streets of Sarajevo will be quieter than regular this summer time, however Purivatra stays satisfied that the subsequent version will provide yet one more testomony to the competition’s defiant roots. “I’m fairly positive the environment and the spirit can not be destroyed.”

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