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Thirty sixth edition of Belgrade Fest 2008

The thirty sixth edition of the International Film Festival in Belgrade Serbia, FEST 2008 (22nd of February-2nd of March) display latest films of the world in nowadays (art film and commercial film), this time putting Serbian cinematography into the European culture. With its top program FEST08 walks into his 36 years of existence with over 100 guests from the domestic and international film industry. The guest of honor however, Volker Schlondorff has opened the festival with his latest film “Ulzhan”. Schlondorff is the director of a very well known film ” Die Blechtrommel” and is a presenter of the most significant European Cinematography, a New German Film today. His “Ulzhan” beautifully focus widescreen need to make a film that should attract Western travelers, drawn to cinematic travelogues to Asia. Film’s lighting and composition of portraying a timeless culture goes into the root to its contemporary tentacles, with proper drama, character conflict and human commentary often seen before, in a similar type of films, but usually portraying America, not Asia. “Ulzhan” have all that, and with a slight naivety, emphasizes a hippie shaman exotic Asia. If nothing this is a nice try? The festival closed Serbian Cinematography “On The Beautiful Blue Danube”, film directed by Darko Bajic.
But never mind the significant cultural role of the International Film Festival FEST08, here we have the commercial film festival, and I am mentioning the fact that tickets for some films, such as “No Country for Old Men”, “There will be blood”, “Atonement”, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” etc were sold out before the beginning of festival, just a few nights before Oscar Night on Monday. This year Belgrade’s International Film Festival FEST08 records over 110 000 sold tickets, just a little more then a last year. The Coen Brothers, with residence in New York and the Hollywood establishment career, would be most likely enjoying on FEST, because this festival would very likely “letting them continue to play in their corner of the sandbox”, as they have nicely put during the Oscar Night Award Winning in public.
In the year 2008, Belgrade’s International Film Festival gives a special place to a Russian film, showing several Russian films: evidently Belgrade audience warmly welcomed “12” directed by Nikita Mihalkov, with sold tickets much before the beginning of the festival. “12” was nominated for non English Best Film on the 80th annual Oscar Academy Awards. Also, continuing further on, International Film Festival FEST08 overviews Asian film, surprisingly (considering the Western culture global influence on Serbian film industry) very popular among Belgrade audience. The greatest represent of it this year was Ang Lee’s “Lust, caution”. Then, let’s not forget domestic cinematography and the Balkan region of ex Yugoslavian countries cinematography, representing films coming from Macedonia and Croatia. This year among several Serbian films, I would give special attention to Macedonian filmmaker Milco Manchevski and his third in the role film and the first big budget film called “Shadows”.

Gaze of glory – The Festival Awards
This year, Belgrade’s 36th FEST gives another pat to the bruised movie industry, refocusing its gaze on laurels, offering a little competition among film workers, consulting among the usual domestic Jury, the international Jury of segment of the festival “Europe out of Europe”. After careful consideration of all eight films in the competitive program, the ’Politika’ Award Jury consisting Mr Kim Dong Ho, President of the Jury and Director of Pusan Film Festival, Mr Hrvoje Hribar, Croatian film director and Ms Dubravka Lakić, Serb film critic:
-’Politika’ Award for Best Film in Europe out of Europe program unanimously went to Croatian Kristijan Milić, for the film with precise directing, expressive acting and sensible cinematography work - the Croatian-Bosnian anti-war film called ’The Living and The Dead’.
-The Jury of FIPRESCI Serbia of the 36th FEST awarded the FIPRESCI Award for Best Film the Russian film „12“ by Nikita Mihalkov. The Award was handed over to the Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Belgrade, Mr. Oleg Buldakov, on behalf of the director and the crew of the film

-Special FIPRESCI Award went to the Turkish-German film „The Edge of Heaven“directed by Fatih Akin, for a moving political melodrama tale of a deeply humane story about the conflict and lack of understanding between civilizations and religions, East and West, Christianity and Islam.
-The „Nebojsa Djukelic Award“ traditionally awarded to the Israeli film „The Band’s Visit“ by director Eran Kolirin, for his simple but multi-layered story; for the distinctive film style which effectively shows how a simple story about „small people“ can picture out those life situations varying between the tragic and the comic..

And finally let’s not forget to mention very important part of the festival, 3rd B2B Belgrade Industry Meetings of 27 participants of the B2B Belgrade Industry Meetings, which voted for their favorite projects from the three groups. Each project receives 7.000 EUR for development and the winning projects are:
-The Balkan group “No One's Child”, by Marko Sopic. The project receives postproduction and lab services to the value of 3.500 EUR.
-The East European group “I'm Going To Change My Name”, by Maria Saakyan. The project receives script doctoring to the amount of 3.000 EUR.
-The Euro-Asina group for “Jujube's Perfume” by Mirlan Abdykalykov. The project receives one free participation fee for upcoming edition of Producers Network - at Cannes Film Market 2008.

Ghosts, solders and whores

Assuming that all of you, more or less know about those internationally awarded films I am giving you this time, reviews of films that you perhaps haven’t seen yet on other festivals. So, there you go, another one bite to dust as a tribute to a wonderful ex Yugoslavian now Balkan Group countries!

“On a blue Danube” by Darko Bajic

Serbian TV film director Darko Bajic this time offers poetic and tragic drama that globally talks about political transition. It’s a story about big floating whore house on Danube River and the characteristic relationship between prostitutes that don’t want to be whores (from Eastern Europe) and customers with needs for a fast love and sex indulgence. And the fact that customers and providers are actually beholders, just watching, tells a lots about modern society where people do not participate and do nothing but watching other people’s misery. On this “Babylon Tower” story begins at dusk and culminates at dawn, and they all share the same consumer’s utopia: demand and provide. Place where’s only need to be loved is common.
’The Living and The Dead’ by Kristijan Milić
The story consist two narratives merged by wartime situation on one place-imaginary field of death- a haunted graveyard, but separated with different time, half of century. One takes place during the last civil war in Bosnia in 90s and the second takes place during the II World War. Both narratives supplement each other and with scene after scene they merge together on timeless huge graveyard. The moving pictures are consisting all common horror of wars: the force of Fire and force of Death. And what is interesting is that this film is the combination of genres, printing the basic message of so called blood legacy and fire legacy. Different genres side by side are taking us to a metaphorical level, giving one unique anti-war message. Interesting detail here is that Croatian director Kristijan Milic graduated American Horror Film.
“Shadows” by Milco Manchevski
Manchevski is known to the Western audience by his previous films, engaging well known British actor Joseph Fiennes in “Dust” and celebrated Serb origin Hollywood actor Rade Sherbedzija in his debut “Before Rain”.
Young and beautiful Lazar lives a great life. He is educated, beautiful, and wealthier and has a beautiful little family. Even if he’s called Lucky, he has everything but real happiness, basically because his life is the expectation of other people. After the car crash, he starts to see and hear dead people. And after he actually falls for a dead woman he realizes that there is something he owes to tormented souls of afterlife.
This film is extremely interesting turn for the director Milco Manchevski into the genre that might not be usual for him. Very skillfully Manchevski shows the beautiful and rich folk inheritance of Macedonians, fantastic natural beauty of Macedonia, even bringing up exile of Egey Macedonians, who has been forced to leave Macedonia half century ago, on one very effective and clever way-through a commercial concept for a classic ghost story. This is a surreal and nightmarish big budget quality story, an impressive try to capture zeitgeist of his homeland. Film that should attract tourists from the entire world. Imagine how exotic for Westerners can be the sight on a commercial big budget story on some exotic language-this time Macedonian. This is a very clever film. You can see details on Bavaria Film International and

By Radmila Djurica


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