Heart of 'God': Debut wins at Sarajevo


LONDON -- Turkish director Ozer Kiziltan's feature debut, "A Man's Fear of God," about a devout Muslim thrust into the modern world, won the Heart of Sarajevo award for best film at the closing ceremony of the 13th annual Sarajevo Film Festival.

Held Saturday in the Bosnian capital's National Theater, the ceremony also saw the Jeremy Irons-led jury give a special jury prize to Macedonian director Teona Strugar-Mitevska for "I'm From Titov Veles," a story of three sisters trapped in a dead-end industrial town who yearn to escape their dreary lives.

Shot on super 35mm, the vivid cinematography and compelling acting in Strugar-Mitevska's third feature, made for a hit with critics at the festival.

Best actor went to Bosnian Sasa Petrovic for his portrayal of a Sarajevo taxi driver whose decision to turn over a new leaf puts him on a collision course with friends and family in Bosnian director Srdan Vuletic's "It's Hard to be Nice."

Saadet Isil Aksoy earned the best actress nod for her role in Semih Kaplanoglu's Turkish-Greek co-production "Egg," about a man's obligation to his dead mother.

The jury also gave a special mention to Hungary's Maria Varga for her role in Csaba Bollok's film "Iszka's Journey."

The documentary competition jury, headed by Croatian-born photographer and artist Tarik Samarah, gave its top prize to Namik Kabil's 40-minute "Interrogation," which explores the postwar trauma -- and denial -- that exists in Bosnia today.

The Human Rights award went to "The Mosquito Problem and Other Stories" by Bulgarian director Andrey Paounov. The film's story revolves around a town with dark secrets that is chosen to host a new nuclear power plant.

A special mention when to Marko Popovic's Serbian documentary "Echo," about the inhabitants of the oldest psychiatric hospital in the Balkans.

In other awards, best short film went to Romanian director Adrian Sitaru's "Waves," about a romantic incident on a beach that ends with a bitter twist. And there were special mentions for "Tripe and Onions" by Hungary's Marton Szirmai and "The Hole," a Croatia/Slovenia co-production from director Marko Santic.

A lifetime achievement award -- the Special Heart of Sarajevo -- was presented Saturday to U.S. actor Steve Buscemi, who festival organizers described as "a longtime friend of the festival."