The Sarajevo Film Festival is celebrating its 20th successful year.
By Bedrana Kaletovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 20/08/14
The Sarajevo Film Festival, now in its 20th year, concludes August 23rd. [Bedrana Kaletovic/SETimes
The Sarajevo Film Festival started at the end of an almost four-year siege by snipers and artillery from Bosnian Serbs that had taken up positions in the hills overlooking the city. Towards the end of the siege of Sarajevo, with the desire to help the reconstruction of civil society and maintain the city's cosmopolitan spirit, organisers launched the Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF) in 1995.
Like a phoenix, the festival emerged from ashes, and now celebrates its 20th anniversary.
"This year is the 20th anniversary of the SFF and it will be the completion of what we have worked on over the years. We have our plans, objectives and vision, as we had in 1995," said Mirsad Purivatra, festival director.
The festival stands as a testament to the power of art and reconciliation, Purivatra said.
The event was no ordinary festival from the begining: the first event was held in a city with no running water or electricity; Sarajevo's infrastructure was devastated but filmmakers were determined to participate.
Two decades later, the Sarajevo Film Festival is the leading festival of its kind in the region, recognised by both film professionals and the wider audience. It is an international film festival with a special focus on the region of southeast Europe, shining an international spotlight on films, talent and future projects from the region.
"SFF is the one of the projects on priority list of the Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports for the reason that it is an important project, a project with tradition and projects a real positive image in Europe and the world, which I think is the most important effect of the festival," said Salmir Kaplan, minister of culture and sports of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The long-term goal is make a strong connections between regions through the festival's Creative Europe programme.
"It should be noted that at this time, this is one of the most important processes at the state level for the SFF, and it's application to the programme Creative Europe. We hope that BiH will complete this process and not only SFF, but all cultural institutions will be able to get European grants if they have good projects," Purivatra said.
The festival attracts about 100,000 filmgoers a year, filling the hotels and bringing tourists to the region. This year's festival started August 15th and concludes Saturday.
"I support SFF because it means a better life for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the opportunity to show that we are a country that has Oscar winners, not just a wartime past," said Admir Kurtas, 27, a waiter from Sarajevo.
For Purivatra, the 20th anniversary of the festival seems like the end of an era.
"We have fulfilled almost all the goals we set out in the beginning over the past 20 years, and now we are turning a new page," he said. "One of our main targets is to be more open to the rest of the world."
How is the Sarajevo Film Festival important for the city and the region? Add your thoughts in the comment area.