SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina — The sixth annual Sarajevo Film Festival got under way by emphasizing its dual mission: to showcase world cinema in a country whose exposure to pics is limited and to support and encourage the work of local filmmakers.
In stark contrast to last year, when the official selection contained not a single new film by a Bosnian director, this year’s fest is seeing plenty of local product.
Opening night crowds last weekend were treated to a trio of home-grown shorts, all of which address the effects of the Bosnian war: “The Abyss,” by Adis Bakra; “Hop, Skip and Jump,” by Srdan Vuletic; and “Red Rubber Boots,” by Jasmila Zbanic.
New Currents, the official competition, features Euro and Asian fare, including Kensaku Watanabe’s “The Story of Pupu,” Veit Helmer’s “Tuvalu” and Philippe Harel’s “Whatever.”
But audiences were most excited about the Open Air program, featuring commercial releases including “Erin Brockovich,” “The Patriot” and “The Perfect Storm,” and the heavy-buzz Panorama section, which includes Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and Lars von Trier’s “Dancer in the Dark.”
Inaugurated in 1995 in a city still under siege, the fest has become one of Sarajevo’s most popular events, drawing crowds of over 50,000 last year.
The festival runs through Saturday.