Director Bela Tarr, Film Exec Robert Olla to Be Honored at Sarajevo Film Festival

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Bela Tarr

The festival, running Aug. 16-24, will present the auteur and Eurimages head with the Heart of Sarajevo award for exceptional contribution to the region's film industry.

LONDON – Eurimages head Robert Olla and acclaimed Hungarian art-house director Bela Tarr are to receive the Heart of Sarajevo award, the Sarajevo Film Festival announced today.

The honorary award is given to filmmakers and industry professionals who have demonstrated "exceptional contribution to the affirmation and development of the Southeast European film industry."

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Tarr, who declared last year that he was retiring from directing, this year opened a masters program in filmmaking at the Film Factory in Sarajevo, which he has also made his home; Olla, executive director of Eurimages since 2008, has "placed great emphasis on the full integration of Southeast European countries into the European audiovisual space," the festival said Thursday. 

The 19th edition of the festival -- the leading Balkans regional film showcase -- opens Friday with a screening of award-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic's film An Episode in the Life of an Iron-Picker.

Tanovic, who won an Oscar in 2002 for No Man's Land, also chairs the feature film jury at the festival.

The festival has become a major industry hub and this year's 5th edition of its Regional Forum has been redesigned to "enhance business and the exchange of knowledge."

The forum -- Aug. 21-24 -- brings together over 100 professionals from 15 countries in the region. Sessions include a focus on film finance, cultural policy and business models will be moderated by Marko Pavlovic, business correspondent at Al Jazeera Balkans.

The sidebar includes a new 'industry terrace' which offers a structured space for business meetings.

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Other industry events include a talent campus for emerging filmmakers and Cinelink, running Aug. 21-22, a project incubator that focuses on regional works in progress and co-productions.

Although the festival has been hit by budget cuts this year -- down 20 percent to $1.3 million as a result of the regional economic crisis and cuts to public spending -- festival director Mirsad Purivatra remains bullish.

"Our new mission is to become a 'discovery festival' that will support and promote new young directors," he said.

Industry professionals with an interest in the region say the festival performs an essential role.

"The festival gives me an excellent opportunity to review new films from the region and get a head start on our own programming for 2014," Vera Mijojlic, founder of Los Angeles' SEEfest, told The Hollywood Reporter.

The 19th Sarajevo Film Festival runs Aug.16-24. It will screen a total of 214 films, including nine in the feature competition.

The feature competition line up includes five world premieres:

Carmen (Romania, dir: Doru Nitescu)

Runaway Day (Greece, Dimitris Bavellas)

Talea (Austria, Katharina Muckstein)

With Mom (Bosnian & Herzegovina, Germany, Slovenia, Faruk Loncarevic)

Wolf (Romania, Bogdan Mustata)

And four regional premieres:

In Bloom (Georgia, Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Gross)

Soldate Jeannette (Austria, Daniel Hoesl)

A Stranger (Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bobo Jelcic)

When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (Romania, Corneliu Porumboiu)