A group of film festivals in the former Yugoslavia have teamed to launch an online event that they hope will stimulate the circulation and promotion of independent European film while the pandemic is ongoing.
The plan has been initiated by the Sarajevo Film Festival alongside the Belgrade Auteur Film Festival (Serbia), the Zagreb Film Festival (Croatia) and the Herceg Novi / Montenegro Film Festival (Montenegro).
The event running April 9-17 will showcase an online program of films previously presented at festivals including Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Sarajevo. A program called European Discovery will see a selection of previous European box office hits vie for the European Discovery Award, as voted for by audiences from the four network festivals. There will also be a Yugoslav Classics program which will shine a line on local titles.
On the industry side, there will be a workshop dedicated to festival organizers in the region, a joint program for film critics, and a joint cinephile audience group and a program dedicated to the development of young audiences.
Ongoing, the fests say they will continue to present joint programs at their physical events, which are aiming to return in 2021 (pandemic allowing).
Mirsad Purivatra, director of Sarajevo Film Festival, said that “increased solidarity” was needed to help festivals and the wider industry ride out the pandemic.
“In our already fragile culture market, the repercussions of the pandemic period will be severe, and we believe that only by working together can we ensure that the future of our entire industry will be a bright one,” he commented. “We are pleased to raise the festival business in our region to a new level of cooperation through this great partnership with other festivals that share our passion for film. The governing principles for this network are putting our audiences first, ensuring the excellent quality of the content, and securing access to it. Our aims are to bring the best European content to as many people as possible in our region, not only on site, but also via a variety of platforms, and to increase film appreciation across generations.”