Interview with Director of the Sarajevo Film Festival Mirsad Purivatra
Sarajevo already got the festival colors and a large number of tourists have arrived in our city and the festival atmosphere is slowly heating up to culminate at the opening night of the nine-day film festival.
The capital city of B&H from 16th to 24th August will host the traditional Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF), the largest regional film festival. On the eve of this important event, the director of SFF Mirsad Purivatra for the portal “Sarajevo Times” spoke about the importance of the 19th edition of the Festival, programs, guests, and the support from the state institutions in B&H. Purivatra proudly points out that even this year’s festival will traditionally open with a B&H film, and there is a great interest of regional authors and producers to promote their films in SFF. During the interview for “Sarajevo Times” Purivatra emphasizes that the Sarajevo Film Festival has been recognized as the B&H brand in the world, as well as a development project for B&H and a strong factor in the development of B&H film industry. According to him, the organizers of the film festival are trying to promote in the best way the positive values and to create a different image of B&H.
Do you feel after 19 years the same passion and excitement in the days when is approaching the festival?
Of course! Each new festival is a great challenge and excitement before the start, which actually occurs every year at the beginning of our preparations, and after 19 years, is even greater.
The expectations are higher every year. Spectators, participants and the audience of the festival each year expect to be even better and better. So it must be the adrenaline and challenge, because these are the only things leading the Festival and other projects to get better.
On the other hand, we are proud of the fact that the same excitements have the citizens of Sarajevo. The entire city has been getting the festival’s color and a large number of tourists have arrived in our city and the festival atmosphere is slowly heating up to culminate in the opening night of the nine-day film festival.
At this year’s SFF, which will last from 16th to 24th August, will be shown a record number of world premieres. Also, the eminent names in the world of the film will be the guest of Sarajevo and B&H at the nine days festival. In your opinion, what SFF has brought to B&H? Can we conclude that, during the festival, Sarajevo becomes a mini Europe?
For the final selection of the Competition Programme, the selectors and the team of SFF have watched around 750 films from the region, 200 films, 150 documentaries, and more than 400 short and animated films.
There is a record interest of regional authors and producers to promote their movies right at the Sarajevo Film Festival and that encourages us to continue to give our best in further strengthening of regional promotion, production and distribution of films. Also, the fact that the festival in three competitive programs brings 14 world’s premiere, 7 international and 19 regional premieres, through imposing a program that discovers new talents and new trends in regional cinema, once again confirms the position of the Sarajevo Film Festival, as an inevitable program at which regional authors prefer to present thier films.
Even this year in Sarajevo, we expect the presence of representatives of the most important film festivals, film institutions and funds, as well as the presence of a number of filmmakers, distributors and producers, as well as the most prestigious media outlets. Our co-production market CineLink is marked as the most important co-production market for filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the most important meeting place for film industry of our region where representatives of the world’s film industry gives access to new projects and new ideas, and the possibility of discovering new talents.
Sarajevo Film Festival has been recognized as the B&H brand in the world, as well as a development project for B&H and a strong factor in the development of B&H film industry, and these are facts that make us very proud. We try to promote positive values in the best way and to create a different image of B&H.
Festival is the event that in our city during the nine days manages to gather more than 100 000 visitors, hosts an impressive number of international media, employs a large number of young people, fills the capacity of our hotels, restaurants and increases the tourist offers…
These facts are the greatest strength and the greatest importance of the Sarajevo Film Festival.
It continues the tradition of opening SFF with a B&H film. This year will be the B&H Oscar winner film of Danis Tanović “Epizoda u životu berača željeza” which won the prestigious award at the International Film Festival in Berlin?
It is our great pleasure that this year a B&H film opens Sarajevo Film Festival. Our wish is to have such opportunity often. I’m sure that the audience of Sarajevo Film Festival will have an honest respond to this powerful story. I think that this is a film that should be watched because it gives a different image of the festival and opens important topics for our society. In the previous years the honor to open the Sarajevo Film Festival had: “Ničija Zemlja” by Danis Tanović, “Dobro Uštimani Mrtvaci” by Benjamin Filipović, “Teško je biti fin” by Srđan Vuletić, “Kod Amidže Idriza” by Pjer Žalica, ” Snijeg “Aida Begic,” Circus Kolumbija “Danis Tanović,” Gori vatra” Pjer Žalica,” Djeca ” director Aida Begić.
Also, during the Sarajevo Film Festival, B&H films will be presented through a special program for Bosnian Movies.
There is no doubt that the SFF contributes to promoting the positive values of our country, as well as improving its image in the world. How much B&H understands the idea of SFF? Do you have the support of the governing structures of our country?
First of all, I must say that this year’s Festival is being prepared under difficult political and economic conditions. According to the organization, this is one of the hardest years. However, what gives us hope for a brighter future is the fact that B&H has fulfilled all the conditions in order that cultural institutions and cultural projects can apply for projects of Media Fund. It is the largest European fund for culture that in the past six years possessed an amount of 800 million euros.
The Festival this year experienced a major budget cut, almost 20 percent, which is a lot, but I must stress that the budget did not affect the quality of the festival.
We live in a poor country, without cultural policy, in which the culture has no any systematic way of funding, neither support. The lack of a national strategy in the financing of culture and cultural events is actually a problem not only for SFF, but also for other cultural events and institutions in our country and has a direct impact on their existence.
Could you reveal for the portal “Sarajevo Times“ the new events that brings this year’s SFF?
Sarajevo Film Festival has kept its concept and strategy that are we have set from the very beginning. And, that is to be an international festival with a focus on regional cinema and regional authors. SFF is a place to find new, young filmmakers and the place to meet with film industry at this part of Europe. We wanted from the beginning that the Festival connects art and business.
It makes us very proud of the trust that filmmakers show in us, but it also demanding and encourages us for years to create programs which aims to extend the life and work of the film even after the festival screenings. Thus, through existing programs and industrial units, this year we will launch the Industrial terrace of Sarajevo Film Festival, as a place of gathering of film professionals, with a desire to better coordinate and to network the distribution and display structures in the region. At the same time, our regional forum will initiate the connection of public and private resources and with the support of the national film funds, local communities and European funds such as Eurimages and MEDIA fund, should result in the planned reconstruction of about one hundred digital cinemas in the former Yugoslavia. This project would enable a simpler and more efficient distribution of regional and international films of art-house.
Also, this year will mark the beginning of our strategic partnership with Doha Film Institute. We will start the connection of film professionals from our region, believing that this cooperation will be crowned by a series of joint film projects.
We are very happy about the fact that the entire city participates in creating the atmosphere during the nine-day of festival in Sarajevo. Also, with great care we nurture and develop the programs. However, the fact that makes us the most proud is that the Sarajevo Film Festival operates in an educational manner and actually encourages the creation of new generation of film fans. During the general commercialization of art, film, and books, SFF has become one of the means of educating young people. The selectors of films are experts in that field and with great attention selected films that the audience of SFF will watch. Our main and only criteria have always been just qualitative and artistic achievements. That is why I am proud of the fact that the Sarajevo Film Festival in its 19th Edition brings the best film achievements in the past years. Many of them the audience will not have the opportunity to watch in the cinemas or on television after the festival, so this is really a great opportunity to invite the audience to watch these great movies in a specific festival atmosphere.
Which are the most famous people that will visit Sarajevo from 16th to 24th August?
Many guests will visit the festival this year. They will be here to show their movies or to have lecturers at the Sarajevo Talent Campus, part of the film industry team, etc. Their presence at the SFF is of great importance.
However, I think you mean the individual acting names as well, so I will have the opportunity to announce Hollywood actor Emile Hirsch, who will be a guest at this year’s Festival. It has to do with a great acting and predict a brilliant career. It is our pleasure that at the Open Air Cinema will be screening of an extraordinary film PRINCE AVALANCHE where Emil Hirsch plays one of the two main roles. To remind, several years ago we had the opportunity to host Daniel Craig and Michael Fassbender, actors who were back then on the rise, and in a short period after that they became really big movie stars. Therefore, it is our pleasure that even this year; we have a rising star in front of who is a great career.
Festival for the first time will host the star of the biggest film industry in the world of Bollywood. Our Actor Irffan Khan, currently the biggest star of Bollywood, will present in front of Sarajevo audience the movie “The lunchbox” that will be screened at the Open Air Cinema. It is interesting the fact that in this film, for the first time in the role of producer, co-operated even the B&H Danis Tanović. Irrfan Khan is the first Bollywood actor who has played roles in the Oscar-winning films, such as LIFE OF PI and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE. Also, this year’s curator of Katrin Cartlidge Foundation will be Danny Glover. Eminent actor, producer and humanitarian will join us in Sarajevo, where he will present this year’s winner of this foundation.
Also at the festival will be present the director Cristi Puiu, one of the most important directors, the director of Leos Carax, Ari Folman and many others whose presence in SFF is of a great importance.
The great position of SFF in the festival map attracted the attention of the festival “Exit”, so it is established the cooperation between the two regional brands. Are you planning to have other cooperations with other cultural events and institutions in the region?
Sarajevo Film Festival is always open to cooperate with cultural events and institutions of our region. Networking and cooperation with the result of positive changes have always been part of the strategy of the Sarajevo Film Festival.
Only with such cooperation we can make steps towards even better and more cultural pattern in this part of Europe and beyond and in these projects of cultural exchanges is the future of our region.
With great pleasure we accepted the invitation of our friends from Novi Sad, to participate in this positive campaign, believing that the project will be an inspiration for other cultural institutions and festivals, will have positive influence for cooperation and more opportunities for young talented people to connect an to express their knowledge and potentials.