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Sarajevo Film Festival and International Casting Directors Network Look to Launch Local Stars

The Intl. Casting Directors Network (ICDN) and the Sarajevo Film Festival are joining forces to turn the popular Bosnian film fest into a springboard for regional actors looking to launch international careers.

After kicking off with a pilot version last year, the initiative expanded to include a series of masterclasses with leading casting directors and a range of programs intended to boost exposure for the emerging talents. The ICDN’s Timka Grin says the platform will not only build a bridge between foreign casting directors and new talent from the region, but offer valuable skills for actors not used to the Western method of casting.

“Casting here does not have decades of tradition. It is something that is quite new,” says Grin. “If there is a certain technique to present yourself, to audition—actors here don’t know it well, and it’s really useful to have a casting director to explain to them what works, what doesn’t work.” Sessions will include a tutorial on how to make a self tape, and how to prepare for an audition in a foreign language.

Three years ago the ICDN established the first-ever international award for casting directors, whose contributions to the film industry are being recognized by the BAFTAs for the first time this year. Casting directors from 14 countries are nominated for a specific film, with ICDN members then choosing the winner. Last year’s award went to Italy’s Francesco Vedovati, who cast Matteo Garrone’s acclaimed Cannes player “Dogman.”

After offering a day-long series of masterclasses during last year’s edition, which was organized in partnership with the U.K.’s Spotlight, this year’s program is spread across three days, with sessions led by leading casting directors Nathalie Cheron (France), Marina Wijn (Netherlands), Piotr Bartuszek (Poland), Sofia Dimopoulou (Greece), Corinna Glaus (Switzerland), and ICDN head Beatrice Kruger (Italy).

Thirteen actors from ex-Yugoslavian countries were selected to take part. Unlike the Sarajevo Talents program, which offers a platform for relative unknowns, Grin says the group are all actively working in the region without having launched international careers.

Along with the masterclasses, the actors will be accredited to attend all CineLink industry events, where they can network with international film professionals; learn from Bosnian-born actor Goran Bogdan, whose international TV credits include FX’s “Fargo” and HBO’s “Success”; take part in a photocall on the red carpet outside Sarajevo’s National Theater; and be presented to the media.

Grin says the program is also part of an effort by Sarajevo festival director Mirsad Purivatra to bring more local stars to the fest. “This festival is really dedicated to the directors and producers and film professionals,” she says. “All these film professionals say it’s a must to come to Sarajevo. But actors don’t have that. We are creating that now.”

The 13 actors selected to take part in this year’s program are: Ana Mandić (Serbia); Peđa Marjanović (Serbia); Milica Janković (Serbia); Marko Petrić (Croatia); Judita Franković (Croatia); Goran Marković (Croatia); Anja Matković (Croatia); Zorica Nusheva (North Macedonia); Nikola Vasiljević (Montenegro); Doroteja Nadrah (Slovenia); Andrei Lenart (Slovenia); Amila Terzimehić (Bosnia-Herzegovina); and Igor Skvarica (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

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