Wim Wenders at the International Film Festival in Belgrade

International Film Festival in Belgrade

By Rada Djurica

"FEST is one of the rare manifestations where with its content gets to strongly fight against provincialism and claustrophobia of the social environment. And every year it reminds us that we are living in the big city." (Emir Kusturica)

Every year FEST, the International Film Festival in Belgrade, Serbia, presents international films ranging from big budget releases to art films, including films that have received awards at places such as the Berlin Film Festival or the Cannes Film Festival. During its 34 years, this festival has hosted big names in the filmmaking business. This time, Belgrade's FEST 2006 opened with Emir Kusturica, the most acknowledged Bosnian film director. At the grand opening, Kusturica referred to FEST 25 years ago. At that time, Milos Forman had requested that Kusturica present personally.

The festival opened with Jim Jarmusch's film Broken Flowers, and the first guest of the festival was Anna Karina, French actress and singer. Anna's first time visiting Belgrade was 40 years ago in 1965, during the shoot of the film Le Soldatess. Karina was once married to the great Jean-Luc Goddard. Born in Denmark, Paris offered something different. That was the place where she met Coco Chanel and became Chanel's model. At the International Film Festival FEST 2006, Anna Karina was given the former Yugoslavian, now Serbian, prestigious cinematography award Golden Stamp for her inspiring work in the French Cinematography in '60s and the French New Wave.

With respect to tradition, FEST06 festival was named FAST FORWARD, and the program was topped by an up-to-date program of the brand new films, many awarded byother festivals, much to the pleasure of a varied and respected audience representing the domestic film industry and culture. FEST06 honored French cinematography with a majority of French films shown: L'Enfer by native Bosnian Denis Tanovic; Cache by Michael Haneke; Gabrielle by Patrice Chereau; Lemming by Dominick Mol, Le Tempse qui Reste by Francois Ozon, L'Annulaire by Diane Bertrand, Au Suivant by Jeanne Biras, Les Amants Reguliers by Phillippe Garrel and more.

Other films shown at this festival included Broken Flowers by Jim Jarmusch; Don't Come Knocking by Wim Wenders; The Constant Gardener by Ferdinando Meirelles; Crash by Paul Haggis; Mrs. Henderson Presents by Stephen Frears; Walk the Line by James Mangold; Capote by Bennett Miller; Good Night, and Good Luck by George Clooney; Manderlay by Lars von Trier; Jarhead by Sam Mendes; Tideland by Terry Gilliam; Brokeback Mountain by Ang Lee; and Last Days by Gus Van Sant.

The festival featured an exhibition of Wim Wenders' photographs and a solo concert by Anna Karina. FEST06 was very successful with the Serbian audience, with 82,637 tickets sold, and total attendance of 100,000 people.

One of the most important guests at the festival was, no doubt Wim Wenders, who also presented his art photography (presented by Haunch of Venison-London) in the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, called "Pictures from the Surface of the Earth", including 55 photographs selected by Wenders. He opened the exhibition, received the Golden Stamp Award, a prestigious cinematography award, and closed the festival with the screening of his brand new film, Don't Come Knocking.

Art photo by Wim Wenders

At the end of FEST 2006, the Belgrade audience was introduced to the Bosnian film Grbavica by Jasmila Zbanic, a film that won Golden Bear Award and the Award for Peace at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival.

The presenters of a contemporary Serbian film introduced Serbian Film in France, a selection that attracted a French audience last year.

An important part of the festival was pitching the forum of the BTB program, about how important for the festival structure, referring to the present Serbian film industry and marketing aspects.

BTB industry meeting

The jury of International Film Federation of Film Critics in Belgrade awarded the FIPRESCI Award to Wim Wender's film Don't Come Knocking. The Special Award of the FIPRESCI jury was given to a Serbian film shot 35 years ago by Joca Jovanovich, Young and Healthy Like a Rose, a film about people on the margins of society at the end of the '60s and beginning of the '70s. This was the first road film made in Serbia, not conforming to a false communist image of old Yugoslavia in the '60s and '70s. This was the first film in the so-called black cinematography of Serbian film. At the time, this film was reviewed as “not aesthetic, not academic enough and not communist enough” under Tito's communism. This film upset political snobs and their epic-lyrical sensibility. Nowadays, 35 years later, it is accepted as a classic of "the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" of the sexual revolution in 1968.

Art photo by Wim Wenders