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Zalica’s ‘Fuse’ lights up Sarajevo

Expanding fest had 6 world preems, added CineLink mart

SARAJEVO — “Fuse,” the black comedy from Bosnia Herzegovina that won a Silver Leopard at Locarno, swept six prizes at the 9th Sarajevo Film Festival on Saturday.

The jury, led by veteran director-screenwriter Dusan Makaveyev, gave Pjer Zalica’s directing debut the e15,000 ($16,300) Agnes B. prize for the feature film in the festival’s Regional Program. It also scooped the Public Radio and Television Service of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s award of $16,300 worth of marketing space within its schedules.

“Fuse” went on to nab the Hungarian Film Laboratories” $5,400 special award and the $2,176 Synchro Film and Video award, while Mirsad Herovic took home the $2,000 Kodak Award for director of photography of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The film also received the audience award.

The jury created special awards for Slovenian helmer Damjan Kozole’s immigrant drama “Spare Parts” and Serbian Milos Radovic’s surreal comedy “Small World.” The UIP prize for European short went to Belgian director Vincent Bierrewaerts’s animated film “The Wallet.”

The nine-day festival, which began in 1995, has outgrown the initial wave of international interest spurred by the end of the war with Bosnia.

Under the continuing directorship of Mirsad Purivatra, it has become the most important international film event in the former Yugoslavia.

It hosts more than 200 foreign guests. Local auds turned out for two open air and three indoor screening venues and sent ticket sales soaring from last year’s 60,000 to over 80,000. “Hotels are packed with tourists from Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia here for the festival,” noted Purivatra, who called it “the event of the year” in Bosnia Herzegovina.

“Our aim is to attract directors from southeast Europe by strengthening our regional program,” culture minister Gavrilo Grahovac said.

Six world premieres, the regional sidebar and films from Romania to Greece proved a strong drawing card for foreign visitors.

High-quality Bosnian films — which also included Srdan Vuletic’s hip young “Summer in the Golden Valley” — bolstered the section’s impact. The premiere of local director Ademir Kenovic’s “Secret Passage” with John Turturro was cancelled for technical reasons.

Another new addition this year was CineLink, a film co-production market modeled on Rotterdam’s Cinemart. Six carefully selected projects were presented from Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.

The international program was varied, with docus as well as features earning full houses thanks to fest’s offshore programmers Howard Feinstein, Philippe Bober and Nicolas Schmerkin. Directors Patrice Chereau, Stephen Frears and Peter Mullan stopped by with their films.