By Brian Brooks | Indiewire August 5, 2006 at 3:1AM
The Sarajevo Film Festival(August 18 - 26) will open its event with Corneliu Porumboiu's "12:08 East of Bucharest," launching the 12th edition of the festival known for putting the spotlight on world cinema. The film recalls the days following the fall of dictator Ceausescu, and the owner of a local TV station in a town east of the capital who invites two locals to recall their days of "revolutionary glory." "Bucharest" is one of nine films screening in the festival's features competition. Also on tap this year are tributes to filmmakers Abel Ferrara and Hungarian director Bela Tarr. Ferrara's Venice 2005 film "Mary" as well as Tarr's classic "Satantango" will screen at the festival.
Also joining this year's competition from Romania is Radu Muntean's "Paper Will Be Blue," also set in the era of Nikolai Ceausescu's overthrow, about a soldier who is determined to fight a terrorist act in the days following the revolution. From nearby Hungary is Peter Meszaros' "Kythera," described as "a bitter, present-day adaptation of one of the most mysterious paintings of the 18th century." Local Bosnia Herzegovina filmmaker, Faruk Loncarevic is in the competition with "Mum 'N' Dad" about an elderly couple in upheaval. After years of living a patriarchal existence in their Sarajevo flat, the wife decides to take advantage of her husband's disability to institute changes in the household.
"Nafaka," also from Bosnia and Herzegovina, follows a group of people in Sarajevo from their lives during the war that besieged the area in the '90s to the present. The fest describes the film as a "dedication to all the surviving citizens of a once-besieged city, to those who believe in life and in 'a miracle' in Sarajevo." Croatian Branko Schmidt's "The Melon Route" is a tale inspired by the true stories of twelve illegal immigrants, who drowned in the Sava River that flows along the border between Bosnia and Croatia, while fellow competition film, "Seven and a Half" by Serbian writer/director Miroslav Momcilovic centers on seven stories from "the neighborhood" that also provide a mirror to the "seven mortal sins."
Croatia/Bosnia and Herzegovina/Serbia production "All for Free" by Antonio Nuic centers on 30 year-old Goran, who emerges from the war unscathed and prosperous due to an inheritance. One day his friends are killed in a bar brawl, transforming Goran to sell his possessions and devote his life to doing something people will remember him by -- traveling to one town per day and buying drinks for all of its inhabitants until his money runs out. "Das Fraulein" (Switzerland/Germany/Bosnia and Herzegovina) by Andrea Staka follows the story of a Serbian emigre in Switzerland who lives an affluent by soulless life in Zurich as well as her Croatian longtime employee. One woman is content to stay in Switzerland, while the other works there in order to fulfill a dream - to earn enough money to buy a home in Croatia.
Two American titles will join the festival's Panorama Documentary section. Laura Poitras' "My Country, My Country" follows the story of an Iraqi doctor and aspiring politician in the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib scandal. The doc follows the agonizing predicament of one man caught in the tragic contradictions of the U.S. occupation of Iraq and its effort to spread democracy in the Middle East. James Longley's "Iraq in Fragments," meanwhile, is a harrowing journey through different regions of Iraq and their particular experiences under U.S. occupation.
Michael Winterbottom and Matt Whitecross' "The Road to Guantanamo" will screen in the festival's "Heineken Open Air" program, with screenings under the stars. The doc is the story of three former British prisoners in Gitmo and their lead up to being captured in Afghanistan. Whitecross and the three former inmates, Shafiq Rasul, Ruhel Ahmed, and Asif Iqbal will attend the screening.
"In view of the number of regional films that were presented at A-list festivals this year, the decision to focus the efforts of the Sarajevo Film Festival on the region, of which Sarajevo is the center, is entirely appropriate," commented competition programmer, Elma Tataragic on the SFF website. "It has been a long time since the countries of the region were so abundantly represented at festivals such as the Berlinale, Cannes and the Lucerne Festivals, as they were this year -- a fact that shows not only that regional films are able to answer to current trends in the world of film, but also that A-list film festivals are gradually changing their attitude towards regional film industries."