Fest unspools Aug. 17-25

MOTOVUN — The 13th edition of the Sarajevo Film Festival unspools Aug. 17-25, but the Balkan event has no need to be superstitious as pics from the region have been generating heat on the fest circuit in the past two years.

One recent example, Cannes’ Palme d’Or laureate “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” helmed by Romanian Cristian Mungiu, will be featured as a gala screening at the fest.

Sarajevo showcases pics from the area extending from Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria through all of former Yugoslavia. Greece and Turkey were added to the mix last year, with Cyprus and Malta the new kids on the block for this year’s edition.

The fest and its 10 feature competition lineup will open with the world preem of hometown helmer Srdan Vuletic’s “It’s Hard to Be Nice,” about a Sarajevo taxi driver trying to turn a new page in his life.

Also world preeming is Macedonian director Teona Mitevska’s “I Am From Titov Veles,” a Chekhov-like tale of three sisters who want to leave the home village.

Among the international preems: Serbian debutant Ivan Zivkovic’s legit adaptation “Huddersfield,” Croat Kristijan Milic’s war epic “The Alive and the Dead,” and Bulgarian Iglika Triffonova’s crimer “Investigation.” Slovenian Janez Lapajne will bow the ensembler “Short Circuit” while vet Turkish helmer Zeki Demirkubuz weighs in with “Destiny.”

Also from Turkey are regional preems “Takva, a Man’s Fear of God,” a fascinating portrait of fundamentalism by Ozer Kiziltan and “Egg,” a nostalgic look at the past by Semih Kaplanoglu. Hungarian Csaba Boolok’s poetic tragedy “Iszka’s Journey” rounds out the section.

British thesp Jeremy Irons has been tapped to head the competition jury.

Further highlighting the strength of the region is the fest’s new program “Focus.” It spotlights regional work already featured in other festivals such as “Armin” by Ognjen Svilicic; “The Trap” by Srdjan Golubovic, “California Dreamin’ (Endless)” by Cristian Nemescu, “The Man From London” by Bela Tarr, “Tomorrow Morning” by Oleg Novkovic, “Times and Winds” by Reha Erdem, and “Milky Way” by Benedek Fliegauf.

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