The 21st Belgrade Intl. Festival attracted more movielovers than ever, despite political strife spearheaded by separatist movements that threaten to divide this six-republic nation.
The Persian Gulf war was blamed for no-shows of prominent guests at the Feb. 1 to 10 fest. John Boorman and Monica Vitti both stayed home, but eager audiences filled many screenings of the 89 films, bringing in $100,000 at the boxoffice.
Films were shown at the excellently equipped 3,700-seat Blue Theater in the modern Sava Center. “Cyrano de Bergerac” and “Green Card,” both toplining Gerard Depardieu, were crowd favorites, and Warner Bros, rep Gary Hodes was on hand for the latter.
“Taxi Blues” producer Vladimir Repnikov and its topliner Piotr Zeitchenko were highly visible guests along with Axel Jodorowsky, lead of “Santa Sangre,” a vivid shocker that sharply divided the mostly young crowd in the Midnight Madness sidebar.
The unique Festival of Central European Films (BESEF), held Feb. 1 to 4, gained momentum after being initiated last year and is now competitive.
A total of 18 pics from Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia unspooled, most vying for the grand prize, which carried a monetary prize of $10,000.
German Michael Verhoeven’s “The Nasty Girl” captured the grand Prix and the helmer was flown in for closing night.
Other popular sidebars included the American indies and a Pedro Almodovar retro. The Yugoslav filmgoing public also got its first exposure to the offbeat flavor of Finn Aki Kaurismaki’s four features.
BESEF director Boro Dreskovic announced the event is now under the auspices of the Council of Europe, and general secretary Catherine Lumiere paid a short visit to Belgrade to express interest in expanding it.
The jury included Polish helmer Krzysztof Zanussi, Bulgarian Rengel Velchanev and Academy award winners Czech Elmer Klos and Yugoslav Dusan Vukotic.
Grand prize: Michael Verhoeven, “The Nasty Girl” (Germany).
Best actress: Krystina Janda, “Interrogation” (Poland).
Best actor: Peter Malceiner, “On Death’s Row” (Hungary).
Special prize: “Requiem For Dominic,” Robert Dornhelm (Austria).
Special mention: Zoran Masirevic, “The Border” (Yugoslavia).
Life achievement award: Andzrej Wadja (Poland).