‘Takva’ wins top prize at Sarajevo

Kiziltan nabs Heart trophy at festival

“Takva — A Man’s Fear of God,” by Turkish helmer Ozer Kiziltan, nabbed the Heart of Sarajevo at the 13th Sarajevo Film Festival on Saturday.

A portrait of a devout Muslim who finds his beliefs upset by the temptations of the modern world, the pic has already collected a clutch of awards, including the Discovery prize at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival last year and the Fipresci award in Berlin.

Repped as part of the regional competition for the first time, Turkey fielded three titles as well as two projects for the fest’s CineLink co-production market. Next year the region will expand even more with the addition of Austria.

Turkish actress Saadet Isil Aksoy, from Semih Kaplanoglu’s “Egg” took the award for actress, while Bosnian thesp Sasa Petrovic, star of Srðan Vuletic’s fest opener “It’s Hard to be Nice,” claimed actor kudos.

The main jury — British thesp Jeremy Irons, Locarno chief Frederic Maire, Turkish actress Ozgu Namal, Swiss helmer Andrea Staka and ZDF/ARTE exec Meinholf Zurhorst, also awarded a special jury prize to Macedonian helmer Teona Strugar Mitevska’s “I Am From Titov Veles.”

The documentary jury also judged regional works, awarding Bosnian production “Interrogation” top prize for its questioning of wartime memories. The Human Rights award went to Bulgarian docu “The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories” by Andrey Paounov.

Romanian helmer Adrian Sitaru took best short with “Waves.”

Israeli feature “The Band’s Visit” by Eran Kolirin and docu “Bil’in My Love” by Shai Carmeli-Pollak won the top two audience awards.

Bigger and more popular than ever, the Sarajevo fest has long been the most important meet in the former Yugoslavia, and is rivaled only by the better-endowed Thessaloniki Fest for prominence in the Balkan region.

Founded during the wartime siege of the city, the fest has expanded shrewdly, launching programs to develop its audience such as a children’s program and teen arena, as well as encouraging interest in regional filmmaking.

Sarajevo’s first Talent Campus ran for six days alongside the fest, hosting 78 aspiring directors, producers and actors, drawn from 13 countries in the region. They attended lectures and workshops conducted by distinguished professionals including Alexander Payne, Steve Buscemi, Juliette Binoche, Terry George and Michael Moore.

Thesp-helmer Buscemi, also in town to present “Delirious” and “Interview” received an honorary Heart of Sarajevo at the closing ceremony.

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