Balkan event honors Muller, Payne

ROME — Venice chief Marco Muller will receive the Heart of Sarajevo for his help and support in developing the Sarajevo Film Festival and filmmaking in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The award will be presented at the Sarajevo fest, unspooling Aug. 19 to 27.

The Balkan event, which is generally considered second in the region only to its larger Greek neighbor Thessaloniki, will also honor helmer Alexander Payne in a special tribute.

On its 11th round, Sarajevo continues its slow but sure expansion in the region. For the first time Hungarian product will be included in the 11-title competition program, while director Mirsad Purivatra has announced that Greece and Turkey will be on the list in 2006.

To underscore the point, this year’s meet will open with a Greek/Turkish coprod about a bus hijacking, “Hostages,” directed by Constantina Giannarisa. Closing film will be Turkish director Yesim Ustaoglu’s “Waiting for the Clouds.” Kornel Mundruczo’s tale of a young drug addict “Johanna” will compete for Hungary, along with the Hungarian-German-Austrian coprod “Dallas Among Us,” directed by Robert Adrian Pejo and set in a Romanian garbage dump which has become a shantytown.

Bosnian filmmaking has itself been a focus of international interest for several seasons now. Making its world premiere in competition is “Well-Tempered Corpses” directed by local son Benjamin Filipovic, a coproduction from Bosnia, Slovenia, France and Italy. However, the Toronto Film Festival will premier Bosnian helmer Danis Tanovic’s international coprod “L’Enfer.”

Other Sarajevo preems include Isa Qosja’s “The Kukum” taking place immediately after NATO troops entered Kosovo, and the Bulgarian “Lady Zee” directed by Georgi Djulgerov, about an abandoned girl who struggles against a life of prostitition. Croatian helmer Hrvoje Hribar will bow his romantic comedy about a woman who falls in love with a priest, “What Is a Man without a Moustache?”

For the third time, fest will host the CineLink co-production market, taking place Aug. 24-27. Among the 10 featured projects, Bulgaria and Romania won slots along with the former Yugoslav republics. Two of the projects will receive grants of 25,000 Euros each, awarded by a jury at the end of the year.

British actress Emily Watson has been named this year’s Katrin Cartlidge curator. She will nominate and present the yearly grant awarded by the Katrin Cartlidge Foundation to a creative young artist during the fest.

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