The Sarajevo Movie Pageant was born throughout the Bosnian Battle, within the midst of the practically four-year siege of town. “I don’t know of one other pageant that was based in a metropolis underneath siege, in a metropolis with out operating water and electrical energy,” notes pageant director Jovan Marjanović, who didn’t expertise the siege himself — a teen on the time he was evacuated from town and spent the conflict overseas as a refugee — however is keenly conscious of the pageant’s distinctive historical past and legacy.
From the beginning, Sarajevo seemed past Bosnia and Herzegovina, seeing itself as a pan-regional occasion with the objective of reconnecting, and rebuilding, hyperlinks between the international locations of the previous Yugoslavia that had descended into nationalist battle and conflict.
Within the a long time since, Sarajevo has expanded its scope, turning into a hub for Central Europe and past, and a gathering place for the movie and tv business “from Vienna to Istanbul.”
Final 12 months, within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the pageant reached out to Ukrainian filmmakers to offer them with a platform to current their movies and initiatives. That was Marjanović’s debut as pageant director — he took over after two years as co-director alongside pageant founder Mirsad Purivatra. For his sophomore effort, Marjanović is seeking to agency up Sarajevo’s place because the area’s primary pageant whereas adapting to satisfy the wants of a maturing, and nonetheless quickly increasing business.
Marjanović spoke to The Hollywood Reporter forward of the twenty ninth Sarajevo Movie Pageant, which runs Aug. 11-18, in regards to the significance of remembering the previous and the challenges of dealing with the longer term.
From an outsider’s perspective, Sarajevo, the movie pageant, appears so carefully linked to the historical past of town, significantly the historical past of the Bosnian Battle and the siege.
I do know what you imply. I don’t know of one other pageant that was based in a metropolis underneath siege, in a metropolis with out operating water and electrical energy. I feel the story of the founding of the pageant is one thing that’s actually in our DNA, it very a lot informs the whole lot that we’re doing in the present day. We simply attempt to make the very best pageant potential, regardless of the circumstances as a result of it was by no means nearly placing one thing up on a display and calling it a pageant. It was actually about curating the very best of cinema nevertheless it was about communication, about individuals exchanging opinions and discussing issues, being artistic collectively. It was by no means merely leisure. It was at all times an energetic act of watching. So the pageant in the present day remains to be very a lot related to this origin story.
The Sarajevo Movie Pageant is the most important within the area and a very powerful for the business in Central Europe. What function do you see the pageant taking part in in bringing the area in the present day, regardless of the historical past of nationalism and separation?
The function is larger than that of only a movie pageant. I don’t need to put this in some nostalgic sort of framework, about recreating the previous, the outdated Yugoslavia. We’re forward-thinking, and seeking to how these extra fragmented markets can work collectively. Clearly, a few of them are deeply related culturally and linguistically. Others much less so. However, once more, traditionally there are hyperlinks on this area reaching mainly from Vienna to Istanbul. So for me, the connections usually are not simply from inside the former Yugoslavia, but in addition with Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. With Albania, clearly. We actually attempt to take a look at these, let’s say, smaller European markets that had been a bit exterior the European mainstream and provides them a gathering place, a standard platform. Now Ukraine has change into a part of that, due to what is occurring with the conflict. We at all times needed to be a platform for regional cooperation. Generally which means simply inside the former Yugoslavia as a result of that’s what is smart out there. The media right here is already actually intertwined. You could have an organization based mostly in Belgrade, or in Zagreb, or right here in Sarajevo that covers all 5 – 6 international locations. The enterprise for TV collection is unquestionably pan-regional. The international locations of the previous Yugoslavia co-produce regularly now. That wasn’t the case after we began. We had been selling these practices as a part of our mission. And now that they’re a actuality, we need to improve them and assist them develop additional. That’s very a lot what our business applications are targeted on, to debate how we are able to present market entry factors to numerous initiatives or professionals from this a part of the world, both for them to work with one another or to maneuver into different greater European or international markets.
In terms of our abilities program, it’s about actually bringing all of the younger professionals from this area to satisfy their friends and consistently rejuvenate the scene. I feel what we’ve managed to do is de facto create an annual assembly level for your complete area. It’s simpler for individuals to work collectively after they know one another and so they meet usually for some 20 years now.
The outcomes are fairly seen and secure, nearly predictable. That’s why we’re all about anticipating the subsequent factor to deal with. So the TV collection wave turned a actuality within the area about 5 to 6 years in the past. However we anticipated it a number of years earlier than and already began serving to producers develop initiatives in order that they’d enough materials prepared for when the broadcasters and telco operators determined to take a position. Our co-production market, CineLink Drama, is now in its eighth 12 months, and these collection are popping out regularly. Now we have reveals like Jasmila Žbanić’s I Know Your Soul, which will likely be introduced on the Venice Movie Pageant this 12 months.
You’ve constructed up loads of construction over time, however what do you suppose the area wants going ahead?
I feel we have to allow greater initiatives to get funding, bigger-budget initiatives with the next manufacturing worth. Each on the subject of movies, but in addition on the subject of collection. I feel the nationwide movie funds and public broadcasters and the larger telecom firms working on this area will in all probability have to adapt their enterprise practices in order that they will extra simply co-produce with each other and allow these extra formidable initiatives to get made. The markets are rising by way of the theatrical enterprise. Now your complete area has been multiplexed after a very long time the place we lagged behind different European markets, even Jap Europe. Now we’ve just about caught up. The TV market has grown and is now fully digitized. Piracy remains to be an enormous drawback however that’s additionally altering. However what we’d like is to create the buildings to allow the manufacturing of bigger-budgeted movies and TV collection by means of co-production. That and doubtless scale back the amount of collection being made, as a result of there’s an overproduction in the intervening time. We in all probability have to deal with a few greater, higher reveals that may journey exterior the area whereas additionally capturing the creativeness of the audiences in your complete area.
We need to see a telecom firm from Serbia and a telecom from Bosnia, do a present collectively which might double the funds and make it extra formidable. As a result of our budgets, proper now, are so small. A Western European present in all probability has a funds of greater than €1 million ($1.1 million) per episode. Even in Jap Europe, the reveals are round €500,000 per episode. If you come right here. They’re about €200,000 per episode. So there’s nonetheless room to develop.
This can be a troublesome query to reply, however do you see any general themes linking the movies on this 12 months’s program?
It’s a arduous query. After all, we’re opening with a movie, Kiss the Future by Nenad Cicin-Sain, which is clearly very a lot linked to Sarajevo as a result of it’s in regards to the underground, actually underground, different scene that got here up throughout the siege and had this loopy thought to try to entice the eye of the band U2 to get them to deal with what was occurring in Bosnia and have a live performance right here. After which, after the siege, the live performance really occurred and it was a type of cathartic second within the historical past of town. It was like that second marked the tip of the conflict. The movie has performed in Berlin and it opened in Tribeca, and I watched it at each festivals however I really feel the movie’s true house is right here in Sarajevo. I feel the opening will actually resonate.
For the remainder of this system, if I may give a quick overview, we clearly have this regional theme. Sarajevo is concentrated on the area. We at all times have the most important number of movies from southeastern Europe that you may see in a single place, wherever on this planet. These are our aggressive sections, so narrative options, documentaries, quick movies and pupil movies.
In our aggressive sections, we search for daring and difficult cinema. However we additionally need to present the whole lot that’s been produced in Bosnia, so now we have a program to point out your complete yearly manufacturing from this area. In our open-air part, there’s a deal with extra mainstream movies coming from the area. Our flagship worldwide part, which attracts over 3,000 individuals each night time in an enormous, open-air auditorium, is de facto about exhibiting the very best of world cinema of the previous eight months or so. One of the best current movies that captured consideration at Cannes or in Berlin or in Sundance. Then now we have the abstract display and kinescope sections which actually discover the worldwide cinema in the intervening time. Kinescope is extra about new kinds of cinema and abstract display is, let’s say, extra basic artwork home motion pictures. Then there are our teenage applications and our youngsters’s program. So we attempt to cowl the whole lot. However I can let you know that we obtained over 1,200 submissions this 12 months from the area alone, the rise has been huge. Partly that was due to a backlog of movies and initiatives that didn’t get made throughout the pandemic, but in addition from different festivals probably not wanting on the area. There wasn’t a single Romanian movie in Cannes this 12 months, which hasn’t been the case for the previous 10-15 years. So we had quite a bit to select from.
One of many sections distinctive to the Sarajevo pageant is the “Dealing With the Previous” part, which seems to be at movies that look at troublesome durations in a nation’s historical past. This 12 months it consists of movies like Mark Cousins’ March on Rome about Italian fascism and Georg Zeller’s documentary Souvenirs of Battle. Do you suppose the pageant, due to its distinctive historical past, might help different cultures have a look at the troubled durations of their previous?
Hopefully. There’s a lot historical past on this metropolis that’s tied to destruction, to the ghosts of the previous. The town is simply crammed with it. Clearly, we have to cope with that and typically we handle and typically we don’t, however it’s positively one thing that we’re acutely aware of. So we hope we might help. And you recognize, what we see after we present these movies is that fairly often, it’s a lot simpler to open up and focus on your personal previous when you find yourself confronted with the same instance or a thought-provoking instance from one other tradition or from one other place on this planet.
This can be a program we take very severely. Yearly we carry collectively about 80 kids, individuals of their late teenagers and early 20s, from completely different international locations within the area, to participate on this program, to take a look at the movies and to debate them. They’re principally people who find themselves energetic in some type of civil society group of their residence international locations. They’re energetic audiences, individuals who need to focus on these points. I attempt to take part in as a lot of their discussions as I can and people are often the highlights of my pageant. Particularly once I hear again from them. Generally we meet a few years later and other people inform me their tales, in regards to the friendships they made right here. It’s not really easy for an Albanian teen and a Serbian teen to return collectively — they don’t have many locations the place they will meet underneath regular circumstances. I feel now we have to be diligent about this and be energetic in speaking about and coping with our previous. On a regular basis. It’s nearly like a type of psychological well being hygiene.
Interview edited for size and readability.