I was thrilled to be invited to the 18th Annual Sarajevo Film Festival. Movies, a press pass, and the possibility of seeing Angelina Jolie?! I was so there.
The Sarajevo Film Festival was started in 1995 after the 4 year long siege of Sarajevo, a hopeful (and successful!) effort to recreate and promote the art and culture that had been stifled during the siege. It has only grown in size and popularity since then.
This year’s festival took place July 6th through 14th, 2012. The films were shown outdoors in a school yard large enough for the thousands of both local and international audience members that came to show their support (not to mention their love for Southeast European films)! Despite the dense crowds, once the film started, you could hear a pin drop.
The opening night film was “ Dijeca” by the Bosnian director Aida Begic. The film takes place in 2009, and follows the lives of a brother and sister who lost their parents in the war. After the film was over, I was tickled pink to see the director, cast and crew emerge from the audience (guess I didn’t get the memo?!), introducing themselves and speaking a bit about their journey of creating the film. The lead actress, Marija Pikic, shared, “The movie is about a generation in transition. I would not call them lost, but a generation that is struggling. We live in a time which has been shaped by the past. We belong to a generation that knows nothing of the time our parents speak about. We have stumbled into the hardest of times, and we don’t know what the future will bring.”
I heard from many of the locals that I had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with that the SFF is the best time of the year to visit the city, and I can surely see why. The film is only the start of the evening, afterwards people pile out on the cobblestone streets and sidewalk cafes to mingle, dance, and drink kahva well into the wee hours of the morning. The Bosnians are a jovial group of people, and be it films or food, certainly understand the importance of pausing for pleasure. I think that’s why I fit in just perfectly.