Festival In Brief The Sarajevo Film Festival launched in 1995, towards the end of the four-year siege of Sarajevo. Initiated by the Obala Art Centar, the Festival started with the aim to help reconstruct civil society and retain the cosmopolitan spirit of the city. 25 years later, it is a trailblazing international film festival with a special focus on the region of Southeast Europe, dedicated to exposing the region’s talent and bringing the best of European cinema to film-hungry audiences in Sarajevo. The Festival has 17 sections including five that are competitive, taking place in 13 venues and on 15 screens: Competitions – Feature, Short, Documentary & Student Film
Focusing on films by first and second-time directors, the Festival’s competition sections feature a significant number of world and international premieres. The films compete for the prestigious Heart of Sarajevo awards and more than €40,000 in cash prizes. The Festival’s signatory competition sections provide featured authors with maximum exposure, honouring them with Gala Screenings, Red Carpet and Press events.
The section presents the best films produced in Southeast Europe and Southern Caucasus in the preceding year, featuring productions that have seen success at prestigious film festivals worldwide (focusing on titles that premiered at Berlinale, Cannes or Locarno).
The Avant Premiere section presents gala premieres of up to four local-language films that have clear commercial box-office potential and are slated to open in theatres across the former Yugoslavia in the fall/winter season. To reflect the increasing popularity of TV drama, the 2019 programme will also feature promising upcoming high–end drama series from the region of Southeast Europe.
The Open Air section boasts the Festival’s largest venue – the recently refurbished Raiffeisen Open Air Cinema, where 3,300 festivalgoers enjoy screenings of up to eight leading art-house, European and international feature films. The
venue offers the unforgettable experience of watching films under the stars on the biggest screen in the region at top projection quality.
The section hosts and presents retrospectives of the world’s most prominent filmmakers and includes Q&A sessions, a master class and special events.
Kinoscope presents up to 20 inspiring films directed by well-established and up-and-coming filmmakers. The section brings to Sarajevo narrative and documentary films from around the world (excluding Southeast Europe and the South Caucasus).
Dealing with the Past
Dealing with the Past aims to encourage dialogue about unresolved issues stemming from the 1990s conflicts in former Yugoslavia, through a programme that combines screenings of relevant films, Q&A sessions and related case studies. The Festival seeks to encourage public involvement in order to increase understanding and encourage acknowledgement and tolerance of differences, especially in younger generations.
Dealing with the Past research grant
The 2018 edition of the programme offered a €3,000 research grant to a selected filmmaker from the former Yugoslavia for exploration of one of the stories presented in the True Stories Market (TSM). The TSM is a unique event that connects filmmakers with organizations that document and research the Yugoslav wars of the 90’s, with the aim of introducing the documented stories to wider audiences. The aim is to create an “open source” platform where relevant organizations and filmmakers can meet and collaborate in order to bring important true stories to the attention of larger audiences by using the urgency and power offered by the cinema.
A selection of short films competing for a direct nomination for the 2019 European Film Academy Awards. The winning film from the European Shorts section will be eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film / Live Action Short Film category of the Academy Awards®.
Presented under the starry skies, the Summer Screen section offers a selection of narrative and documentary films from around the world that consider current musical or pop culture themes.
MiniArena / Children’s & TeenArena Sections
With the aim to attract young audiences and educate future generations of film lovers, the Festival introduced special sections that combine age–appropriate films with various engaging and educational activities. The sections include: MiniArena (for children between the ages of 4 to 6), Children’s (ages from 6 to 13) and TeenArena (ages from 13 to 18).
SFF Partner Presents
Through its partnership with the Doha Film Institute, the Festival brings to Sarajevo a selection of the films made in the preceding year by Arab filmmakers. This partnership provides industry exchange and strengthens connections between Arab and European cinema. The collaboration will mark its sixth anniversary in 2019.
Human Rights Day
This section focuses on a variety of topics which inspire panel participants, the audience and the media to focus on and discuss pressing problems faced by individuals and communities around the world.
Conceived as a ‘window to the world’ for local filmmakers, this national cinema section is organized in collaboration with the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and provides an overview of all films produced in the country in the preceding year.