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CineLink Work in Progress Provides Step Onto International Stage

The Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Work in Progress section has become a major venue for filmmakers from Southeastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa – this year it saw nearly 70 submissions, the most in the past decade.

The competitive program boasts a large number of projects that have gone on to achieve major success. This year the fest is screening three films that took part in past Work in Progress editions, including Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska’s documentary “Honeyland,” winner of the grand jury prize at Sundance; Mina Mileva and Vesela Kazakova’s “Cat in the Wall,” which unspooled at Locarno; and Radu Dragomir’s “Mo.”

Among the 11 projects selected this year were nine features and two documentaries, including Dimitris Bavellas’s Greek drama “In the Strange Pursuit of Laura Durand,” about two dysfunctional men searching for the love of their life: a 90s porn star who mysteriously vanished from the industry without a trace; and Cemil Ağacıkoğlu’s Turkish work “The Cage,” about a former police officer fighting to clear his name.

Also taking part in the competition was Azerbaijani director Ru Hasanov with “The Island Within,” about an emotionally and physically abused chess grandmaster who escapes to an island populated by feral horses and one human inhabitant; and Israeli helmer Idan Haguel with “Neve Shaanan,” which follows a bourgeois gay couple who get entangled in a moral dilemma that threatens to jeopardize their future as parents.

Most of the projects are at similar stages of completion, in the early editing phase, according to CineLink Work in Progress coordinator Alex Traila.

The works are competing for three prizes: the Post Republic Award, which entails €50,000 ($55,507) worth of services from Berlin-based post production company Post Republic; the CineLink Iridium Award, with €20,000 ($22,203) in kind from Slovenia’s Iridium Film, and a €25,000 ($27,753) cash prize from Turkish National Radio Television.

Aside from the possibility of winning awards, the event also offers a wealth of networking opportunities for participating filmmakers as the section’s guests include representatives of post production facilities and funds that offer specific post production grants, sales agents, distributors and festival programmers, Traila points out.

Likewise presented was Svetoslav Draganov’s “Waterfall CEO,” a Bugarian-Romanian co-production about a 40-year-old documentary director who, unhappy with his career, neglects his family while putting all his energy into filming and fixing the broken relationship of his characters.

The documentaries included Leila Al bayaty’s Iraqi production “My Father’s Name is Abdul,” which focuses on a French-Iraqi family; and Amin Behroozzadeh’s Iranian documentary “Fish Eye,” which follows the Parsian Shila, Iran’s largest industrial fishing vessel, as it seeks to catch up to 2,000 tons of tuna.

Other projects included Bulgarian director Pavel G. Vesnakov’s “I Am Not Angry Anymore”; Ruxandra Ghițescu’s Romanian drama “Otto the Barbarian,” about a teenage punk dealing with the loss of his girlfriend; Dimitris Kanellopoulos’ “A Pack of Sheep,” about a businessmen in a remote town trying to solve his debt problem; and Cristina Groșan’s Hungarian feature “Things Worth Weeping For.”

The CineLink Work in Progress prizes will be presented at the festival’s closing ceremony on Aug. 22.

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