In Focus Programme of the 27th Sarajevo Film Festival

The 27th Sarajevo Film Festival’s In Focus programme brings the best achievements of regional cinematography from the past and this year. It is a selection of strong achievements of both already established artists and debutants that gained success at prestigious film festivals around the world or in the domestic market.

“The In Focus programme brings us some diverse films and their common characteristic is that they were the most successful films from the region last year, leaving their mark at the festivals in Venice, Sundance, Berlin, Cannes. This programme presents an overview of the best regional films from Venice 2020 to Sarajevo 2021. So the quality of the programme depends on the quality of regional films, which was above average this year. None of the A-category festivals took place without premiere screenings of regional films, which then often took the main awards. This was certainly the case with QUO VADIS, AIDA? by the most-awarded BiH director Jasmila Žbanić, which had its world premiere in the main programme of the Venice Film Festival. After the premiere, the film was screened at numerous other film festivals and has received exceptional attention, awards and reviews from the audience and critics, reaching its triumph with the nomination for the US Academy award – the Oscar – for best international film.  BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN by the Romanian now-cult director Radu Jude has won the Golden Bear for best film at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. A film from Kosovo, HIVE by Blerta Basholi, won an award at Sundance... So these are not just regional, but global films”, said Elma Tataragić, the programmer of In Focus.
This programme is out of the competition.
Romania, Luxembourg, Croatia, Czech Republic, 2021, 106 min.
Director: Radu Jude
Cast: Katia Pascariu, Claudia Ieremia, Olimpia Mălai, Nicodim Ungureanu, Alexandru Potocean, Andi Vasluianu
A video goes viral. It shows a man and a woman having sex while wearing masks. The woman, nevertheless, is identified. Too bad she is a teacher and supposed to be a role model. And this, moreover, in a (post-socialist but ultimately any) society that is about to get lost in a social network discourse of would-be healing, squeaky-clean attitudes, pseudo-political knowing-it-all, sanctimonious chauvinism and grotesque conspiracy theories. Everyone has an opinion. The debate turns into a tribunal – about consensual sex, pornography and more.
Germany, Hungary, 2021, 97 min.
Director: Kornél Mundruczó
Cast: Lili Monori, Goya Rego, Padmé Hamdemir, Annamária Láng
In EVOLUTION, acclaimed filmmaking team Kornél Mundruczó and Kata Wéber (PIECES OF A WOMAN) return with a powerful drama tracing three generations of a family, from a surreal memory of World War II to modern-day Berlin, unable to process their past in a society still coping with the wounds of its history. Like the water that connects the episodes in this triptych, memory and identity are fluid, and how we relate to it can drown us or buoy us up. 
Turkey, 2020, 95 min.
Director: Cem Özay
Cast: Timur Acar, Emine Meyrem, Hakan Aslan, Yusuf Bayraktar, Macit Koper
Twelve-year-old Aziz causes the death of his ten-year-old brother, Melik, in an act that blurs the line between "accident" and "intention." After the event, Aziz’s already problematic relationship with his steely father, forty-three-year-old İmran, deteriorates further. For the family to get over this deeply traumatic event and become a functioning family again, its members need to undergo a process of soul-searching.
Kosovo, Switzerland, North Macedonia, Albania, 2021, 84 min.
Director: Blerta Basholli
Cast: Yllka Gashi, Çun Lajçi, Aurita Agushi, Kumrije Hoxha
Fahrije’s husband has been missing since the war in Kosovo, and along with their grief, her family is struggling financially. In order to provide for them, Fahrije launches a small agricultural business but, in the traditional patriarchal village where she lives, her ambition and efforts to empower herself and other women are not seen in a positive light. She battles not only to keep her family afloat but also against a hostile community that is rooting for her to fail.
Belgium, Romania, Mexico, 2021, 145 min.
Director: Teodora Ana Mihai
Cast: Arcelia Ramirez, Alvaro Guerrero, Jorge A Jimenez, Ayelén Muzo, Daniel Garcia, Eligio Melendez
Inspired by real events, LA CIVIL tells the story of Cielo, a mother in search of her daughter, who has been abducted by a criminal cartel in northern Mexico. Since the authorities fail to offer support, Cielo takes matters into her own hands. She begins her own investigation and earns the trust and sympathy of Lamarque, an unconventional army lieutenant working in the region. He agrees to help Cielo in her search because her findings could be useful to his operations as well. Cielo’s collaboration with Lamarque will pull her further into a vicious cycle of violence.
Serbia, Slovenia, Netherlands, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2020, 123 min.
Director: Ivan Ikić
Cast: Marijana Novakov, Tijana Marković, Valentino Zenuni, Milica Đinđić, Sasa Strugar, Maruša Majer, Goran Bogdan
Upon her arrival at an institution for people with mental disabilities, Maria becomes fast friends with the equally fiery Dragana. When it becomes clear that they are both in love with the more withdrawn Robert, their relationship is upset and gradually evolves into a dangerous game of hide-and-seek to win him over. Being condemned to a lifetime of hiding away from society, the three teenagers' profound longing for independence and human connection takes hold. Driven by newfound feelings of desire and envy, the trio's impulsive actions topple the delicate balance preserved by the institution's stifling rules and spill over into confrontation and desperate measures to find any way out.
Hungary, 2020, 95 min.
Director: Lili Horvát
Cast: Natasa Stork, Viktor Bodó, Benett Vilmány, Zsolt Nagy, Péter Tóth, Andor Lukáts, Attila Mokos, Linda Moshier, Júlia Ladány
Márta, a forty-year-old neurosurgeon, falls in love. She leaves behind her shining career in the United States and returns to Budapest to start a new life with this man she has met. She waits in vain for him at the Liberty Bridge – he does not appear for the rendezvous. Márta begins a desperate search for him – but when she finally finds him, this love of her life claims they have never met before.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Romania, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, France, Norway, Turkey, 2020, 101 min.
Director: Jasmila Žbanić
Cast: Jasna Đuričić, Izudin Bajrović, Boris Ler, Dino Bajrović, Raymond Thiry, 
Johan Heldenbergh, Boris Isaković, Emir Hadžihafizbegović, Edita Malovčić
Aida is a translator for the United Nations in the small town of Srebrenica. When the Serbian army takes over the town, her family is among the thousands of citizens looking for shelter in a UN camp. As an insider to the negotiations, Aida has access to crucial information that she needs to interpret correctly. What is on the horizon for her family and people – rescue or death? Which move should she make?
Slovenia, Italy, 2020, 85 min.
Director: Miroslav Ćiro Mandić
Cast: Sandi Pavlin, Silva Čušin, Boris Cavazza, Mojca Funkl, Barbara Cerar, Lara Komar, Barbara Vidovič, Vladimir Jurc, Safet Mujčić
Living in the same nursing home, Bruno and Duša enjoy each other’s company. However, their moments together are always soon forgotten, as both of them suffer from dementia. This unique relationship is evoked by Gigliola Cinquetti’s song “Non ho l’età,” which was performed at the Sanremo Festival back in the 1960s – the only shared memory the pair have from their youth. One morning, they woke up in same bad and start arguing, each of them convinced the other is in the wrong bed, only to rediscover their mutual affection. Moments later Duša waits for Bruno at their breakfast table in vain.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, 2021, 90 min.
Director: Igor Drljača
Cast: Pavle Čemerikić, Sumeja Dardagan, Jasmin Geljo, Kerim Čutuna, Alban Ukaj, Farah Hadžić, Hasija Borić, Irena Mulamuhić, Jelena Kordić, Bilal Halilović
In the rundown Sarajevo suburb of Alipasino Polje, Faruk is an orphan who lives with his ill grandmother and spends his days foraging for scrap metal and dabbling in petty crime. One day he meets Mona, a timid teen from a politically powerful and affluent family. As Mona dreams of escaping the overbearing toxicity of her home life, she seeks refuge and opens herself up to Faruk, a boy from a world entirely different than her own.
Germany, Georgia, 2021, 150 min.
Director: Alexandre Koberidze
Cast: Ani Karseladze, Giorgi Bochorishvili, Oliko Barbakadze, Giorgi Ambroladze, Vakhtang Panchulidze, Sofio Tchanishvili, Irina Chelidze, David Koberidze, Sofio Sharashidze
It’s love at first sight when Lisa and Giorgi meet by chance on a street in the Georgian city of Kutaisi. Indeed, love strikes them so suddenly that they even forget to ask each other’s names. Before continuing on their way, they agree to meet the next day. Little do they know that an evil eye has cast its spell on them. Will they manage to meet again? If they do, will each know who the other is? Life goes on as usual in their hometown: street dogs stray, the soccer world cup begins – and a film crew on a quest to find true love might be what they need.
The 27th Sarajevo Film Festival will take place 13-20 August 2021.
In Focus Programme of the 29th Sarajevo Film Festival
In Focus Programme of the 28th Sarajevo Film Festival
This year’s most successful films are In focus
In Focus Programme of the 27th Sarajevo Film Festival
In Focus 2020.