'Grbavica' helmer Zbanic to head fest's int'l jury

ROME — After “Grbavica,” the first feature by young Bosnian director Jasmila Zbanic, snatched this year’s Silver Bear in a surprise win at Berlin, the 12th Sarajevo Film Festival is unspooling with renewed energy Aug. 18-26.

Zbanic has been called on to head the international competition jury, which includes Pusan fest director Kim Dong-ho, Cannes market chief Jerome Paillard, Fortissimo Sales founder Wouter Barendrecht and Slovenia helmer Jan Cvitkovic.

Sarajevo’s focus on the region extending from Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria through all of former Yugoslavia to Greece and Turkey has paid off, making it the largest and most important event in this area after Thessaloniki. As the showcase and breeding ground for regional filmmaking, it has steadily grown in importance.

The CineLink co-production market drew 300 guests last year and brought many European producers down to Sarajevo. Now in its fourth year, the Aug. 23-26 mart presents 11 projects in an advanced stage of development. Three awards of e10,000 ($13,000) each will be given to selected projects by a jury of producers.

Also being endowed are a best film prize of $32,000, a special jury award of $13,000 and documentary prize of $4,000.

Of the nine films in the international competition, seven are first features from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia. Radu Muntean’s “The Paper Will Be Blue” from Romania and Branko Schmidt’s “The Melon Route” from Croatia complete the selection.

Festival chief Mirsad Purivatra and main programmer Elma Tataragic note that four of the 12 countries in the region produced no films at all this year, including the normally active Slovenia.

Hungary and Romania, on the other hand, had a stellar year at film festivals. Corneliu Poromboiu’s whimsical take on the end of Romanian dictator Ceausescu, “12:08 East of Bucharest,” screened at Cannes and Peter Meszaros’ “Kythera,” about Watteau’s mysterious 18th century painting, was shown in Locarno. Both first films will compete in Sarajevo.

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