Sarajevo Film Festival Wraps
08.08.2011 - The Sarajevo Film Festival handed out its distinctive heart-shaped awards on Saturday, with the Austrian drama Breathing grabbing two top prizes, while surprise guest and honoree Angelina Jolie grabbed world headlines.
The 17th edition of the festival, which screened 175 films over the previous nine days, gave its Heart of Sarajevo Award for Best Film to Breathing, directed by Karl Markovics. The film also took the Best Actor award for Thomas Schubert’s portrayal of a teenager and ex-convict who struggles to adjust to society while searching for the mother who abandoned him. The young Schubert, a non-professional in his first feature role, was presented with his award by Jolie.
The Best Actress Award also went to an up-and-comer. Ada Condeescu earned the prize for her performance in the bleak Romanian drama Loverboy, directed by Catalin Mitulescu. It was Condeescu’s second feature role; her first was in last year’s acclaimed If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle.
A special jury award in the narrative feature section went to the Bulgarian indie road movie Avé, Konstantin Bojanov’s feature directorial debut. Sarajevo resident Nedžad Begović’s A Cell Phone Movie, an off-beat experimental documentary shot entirely on his mobile, came away with Best Documentary. Croatian director Dalibor Matanić won Best Short Film for Mezzanine.
Jolie’s upcoming directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey is set during the Bosnian war and was shot on location in Sarajevo. She received an honorary award for the film, as well as for her recent humanitarian efforts in the region. The star’s attendance at the festival had not been announced; she and her partner Brad Pitt received a good deal of media attention for their enthusiastic participation in the ceremony. Jolie was moved to tears during her acceptance speech.
The other honorary award winners were Atlantic Group president Emil Tedeschi and Iranian filmmaker and international cause célèbre Jafar Panahi. Argentine auteur Lucretia Martel was the subject of the festival’s annual tribute program. The Human Rights Award went to Turkish-German coproduction Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits (directed by Imre Azem), a documentary about the unchecked development of Istanbul.
The focus on human rights is particularly significant for this festival. Founded in 1995 during the siege of Sarajevo, the event was conceived as a protest against the ethnic strife and bloodshed that catapulted the region into war. The first edition was an extraordinary success, with thousands turning out despite the danger.
The festival has gone on to become the premiere annual film event, as well as the largest, in the Balkans, regularly attracting A-listers to its red carpet. The festival’s robust program focuses attention on films from Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkan region, while featuring a strong lineup of international films. It is also known for its short film sections, and for its programming for children. Among the prestigious titles showing at Sarajevo this year are Joshua Marston’s The Forgiveness of Blood, Cary Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre (with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender), Athina Rachel Tsangari’sAttenberg and closing night film The Guard (with Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle). Wim Wenders and Charlotte Rampling joined Jolie and Pitt on the list of festival guests.
This year’s Sarajevo gathering also featured work by a member of ADFF’s team: SANAD director Marie-Pierre Macia co-produced Hungarian director Béla Tarr’s critically acclaimed final film The Turin Horse, which screened in the competition section.