Sarajevo Festival Focuses on New Challenges to Old Worlds

LONDON — Nine titles compete for the Heart of Sarajevo, the main prize of the Sarajevo Film Festival, which runs Aug. 15-23. Five of those nine are debuts, and three are world premieres.

Many of the pics center on the tensions that surface when traditional societies face challenges, and individuals trying to establish an identity for themselves in difficult circumstances.

Debutant helmer Lasha Tskvitinidze’s “I Am Beso,” which is a world premiere, centers on a boy growing up in a backwater town in Georgia, torn between traditional and modern worlds.

Another world premiere from a debutant is “Song of My Mother.” Erol Mintas’ film focuses on an elderly Kurdish woman in Istanbul who yearns to return to her village in Eastern Turkey.

Other first-time helmers include Adam Csaszi, who delivers “A Land of Storms,” a Hungarian pic about a footballer who falls for another guy, and has to cope with the hatred of his neighbors; Tinatin Kajrishvili presents “Brides,” about a woman whose partner is serving a 10-year prison sentence, and must overcome myriad obstacles in order to keep their relationship alive; and Sudabeh Mortezai, with “Macondo,” which follows an 11-year-old boy from Chechnya, living in a tough ethnic neighborhood in the industrial suburbs of Vienna.

The third world premiere in competition is Isa Qosja’s “Three Windows and a Hanging,” which is set in a village in Kosova, a year after the war. A female school teacher tells a foreign journalist that she and three other women from the village were raped by Serb soldiers. Local men then start a hate campaign against her and her little boy, and try to force her from the village.

Another competition entry from the Balkan region is Andrea Staka’s “The Life of Another,” which follows a 14-year-old Croatian girl who returns to her home country from Switzerland after the Balkan War, and begins to take the place of another girl, who has died in mysterious fall.

Rounding out the competition lineup are Syllas Tzoumerkas’ “A Blast,” which follows an ordinary Greek woman on the run; and Kutlug Ataman’s “The Lamb,” which centers on a poor family in rural Turkey trying to scrape together enough cash to pay for a traditional feast.

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