Sarajevo Film Fest is a platform for cross-culture-communication, says festival director Jovan Marjanovic


Jovan Marjanovic is a survivor of the Bosnian War, which while he did not see in person as he was evacuated when he was a teenager, he is keenly aware of the whole festival’s history as well as the history of Bosnia and its conflicts.

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter about the role of the festival, Marjanovic said: “The role is bigger than that of just a film festival. I don’t want to put this in some nostalgic type of framework, about recreating the past, the old Yugoslavia. We are forward-thinking, and looking to how these more fragmented markets can work together. Obviously, some of them are deeply connected culturally and linguistically. Others less so.”

He continued: “But, again, historically there are links in this region reaching basically from Vienna to Istanbul. So for me, the connections are not just from within the former Yugoslavia, but also with Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. With Albania, obviously. We really try to look at these, let’s say, smaller European markets that were a bit outside the European mainstream and give them a meeting place, a common platform.”

He added: “Now Ukraine has become part of that, because of what is happening with the war. We always wanted to be a platform for regional cooperation. Sometimes that means just within the former Yugoslavia because that’s what makes sense in the market.”

Talking to The Hollywood Reporter about how the festival is closely tied to its history and legacy, he said: “I don’t know of another festival that was founded in a city under siege, in a city without running water and electricity. I think the story of the founding of the festival is something that is really in our DNA, it very much informs everything that we’re doing today.”

He further mentioned: “We just try to make the best festival possible, whatever the circumstances because it was never just about putting something up on a screen and calling it a festival. It was really about curating the best of cinema but it was about communication, about people exchanging opinions and discussing things, being creative together.”

“It was never merely entertainment. It was always an active act of watching. So the festival today is still very much connected to this origin story,” he concluded.



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