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Sarajevo’s Kinoscope Sidebar Focuses on the Bold and Experimental

Since its launch in 2012, the Sarajevo Film Festival’s Kinoscope sidebar has presented challenging, experimental and genre-bending titles from around the globe.

This year’s lineup includes an eclectic showcase of feature and documentary works from mostly young directors, half of them women, including Nicolas Pesce’s U.S. thriller “Piercing”; Dominga Sotomayor’s “Too Late to Die Young”; Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s “Let the Corpses Tan”; and Gustav Möller’s Danish thriller “The Guilty,” this year’s opening film.

Kinoscope programmers Alessandro Raja and Mathilde Henrot sat down with Variety to discuss the section and this year’s lineup.

Q: Half of your films are by female filmmakers. Is there a conscious effort on your part to present works by women?

Henrot: It’s a conscious selection which doesn’t require too much effort. Since the beginning of Kinoscope we’ve always chosen to have a balanced selection between women and men filmmakers. It’s always been about reflecting our taste for the diversity of creativity: presenting films from different cultures, from different countries, from different genders. It corresponds to our values. Besides, we address an audience equally composed of men and women, so it’s only natural.

Raja: It’s easier also when you focus on emerging filmmakers because you can feel that there has been a real change in recent years. We didn’t set out to have half of the films made by women; it’s just that they are really good films.

Q: What distinguishes Kinoscope from the other festival sections?

Raja: This year we have many first- and second-time filmmakers, with the exception of the closing film, which is a special screening, the Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters.” Otherwise, it’s filmmakers who have made a couple of films and have the potential to become masters. We realized during the year that we wanted to focus on emerging talents. It’s almost like a statement.

Henrot: It doesn’t mean that next year it will be the same. We’re completely free. It’s not a young cinema section. We’ve always been interested in showing films from different voices, very personal stories and innovative filmmaking.

Q: How would you describe the role of Kinoscope in the festival?

Henrot: We give the audience in Sarajevo the chance to watch these films, some of which may not be released in the country. The audience here is really cinephile and bold in terms of their love for filmmaking. They’re happy to discover non-commercial films. I think that’s our role. Within our lineup, some films are more accessible and some more demanding.

Raja: They are daring, even experimental in some cases, like “The Real Estate” or “Diamantino,” which are really trying to discover and explore new territories.

Henrot: We really program for the audience. We curate; we make sure there is a consistency in the program, a dialogue between the films.

Raja: If you look at a couple of the documentaries we are screening, one is “Chris the Swiss,” a Swiss film co-produced with Croatia that is very much linked to this region. The other is “Theatre of War,” by Lola Arias, an Argentinean film about the Falklands War, but with a very original approach, which is very interesting for the local audience because of the past events.

Henrot: It’s really a cathartic process she takes those veterans through, a healing process from the traumatic effects of war, which is, I think, a very generous and beautiful motive as a documentary filmmaker.

Q: What are some other highlights this year?

Raja: We selected two films that just screened in Locarno last week and both of them got awards. “Too Late to Die Young,” by Dominga Sotomayor, won Best Director.

Henrot: It was the first time that the Best Director Award in Locarno was awarded to a woman filmmaker. Hopefully it will be followed by many others.

Raja: The other is “M,” a documentary by Yolande Zauberman, which won the Special Jury Award

Something else which is quite particular is our Kinoscope After Hours label. These are five films that are either genre or that play with genre, and we screen them at 11 p.m. For that time in the evening, we need films that have a fantastic or thrilling element. They are very different in terms of genres. We have “Piercing,” a thriller and an homage to giallo films from the ’70s. Then we have a more surreal trip like “The Wild Boys.” We also have trolls in “Border” and werewolves in “Good Manners.”

Also screening is “Let the Corpses Tan,” an homage to spaghetti Westerns and Italian crime dramas from the ’70s. It’s really a film to watch on the big screen, with an amazing soundtrack featuring music by Ennio Morricone and Nico Fidenco.

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