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Sarajevo Film Festival Reworks Format to Maximize Synergies

Festival director Mirsad Purivatra aims to create 'intersections' between strands

The Sarajevo Film Festival, the leading movie event for Southeast Europe, has reformatted its structure for the 23rd edition, which runs Aug. 11-18, in order to re-affirm its position as a “must-attend” international event.

The festival, which was set up in 1995 in the midst of the siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, will integrate its three existing strands — the main festival program, the industry section, CineLink Industry Days, and the training program, Talents Sarajevo — to take full advantage of the synergies that exist.

Festival director Mirsad Purivatra told Variety: “We want to have a very strong flow of ideas, knowledge, energy, and creativity between all three segments of the festival.”

In contrast with previous years, the three segments will run in parallel over the first seven days of the festival, with the last day reserved for reruns of the winning films and audience favorites.

Purivatra said the festival would create new “intersections” between the strands. “Film professionals will be part of Talents Sarajevo, students will be part of CineLink, celebrities will meet regional stars and visit the Talents Sarajevo campus, and so on. We find that sometimes even big stars and producers can be energized by the young people.”

He added that the aim was to maintain the “efficiency” and “positive atmosphere” created by having 12 festival locations within 200 yards of each other. “It is still a human-size festival,” he said. “Having 1,500 accredited professionals located in this small area creates a special informal atmosphere, where everyone is approachable and where you can easily meet sales agents, distributors, producers, and stars. It makes us happy that we have created a really efficient space for participants, so we’d like to encourage all our guest to take advantage of the synergies that exist between the programs.”

Sarajevo is also launching a new competition program for student films from the region’s film schools, and will have two new venues: House of Shorts, for the region’s short-film output, and Youth Theater, which will serve as the gathering point for audiences of the Children’s Program and TeenArena, the youth-film section. Purivatra described the new venues as “creative hubs.”


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