Sarajevo fest focuses on 'mature work'

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MOSCOW -- A slate of 10 feature films from across the Balkans and Southeastern Europe will compete for a prize purse worth €40,000 ($54,890) when the 13th edition of the Sarajevo Film Festival opens in the Bosnia and Herzegovina capital Aug. 17.

Festival competition programmer Elma Tataragic said that growing maturity and international acclaim for filmmakers from across the region is reflected in the quality of this year's competition films.

"(The) regional film industry has finally reached an enviable level. Since Cristian Mungiu won the Palme d'Or at Cannes, it is only logical that this year's regional production should be above average, as film industries in the region enjoy particular attention," Tataragic said in a statement.

Noting that last year's competition program was dominated by debuts, Tataragic said that festivalgoers at next month's showcase can expect "more mature work by directors who are presenting their second, third or fourth film."

Among such filmmakers are Turkish director Zeki Demirkubuz, whose film "Destiny" makes its international premiere, while fellow Turk Semih Kaplanoglu's "Egg" will make its regional premiere alonside Hungarian helmer Csaba Bollok's "Iszka's Journey."

Other films competing for the "Heart of Sarajevo" award include the world premieres "I Am From Titov Veles" by Macedonian director Teona Mitevska -- a Chekhovian tale of three sisters who yearn to leave a dying town only to find it impossible to escape -- and Bosnian director Srdan Vuletic's "It's Hard To Be Nice," about a Sarajevo taxi driver who learns how difficult it is to be positive.

The lineup also includes international premieres for Serbian director Ivan Zivkovic "Huddersfield," Bulgarian director Iglika Triffonova's "Investigation," "Short Circuits" by Slovenia's Janez Lapajne, and Bosnia and Herzegovina/Croatian co-production "The Alive and the Dead" by debut director Kristijan Milic. Turkish director Ozer Kiziltan's "A Man's Fear of God" completes the feature lineup.

The 13th edition of the Sarajevo Film Festival runs Aug. 17-25.
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