Sarajevo film festivalWhen I think of European film festival locales, I might recall Cannes, Venice, Berlin ... but Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina has never crossed my mind, even though the Sarajevo Film Festival is in its 11th year. This year's festivities kicked off Friday. Director Alexander Payne (Sideways) is president of the jury for the short film award. Vanessa Redgrave, Emily Watson, and Daniel Craig are among the celebrities expected to attend.

The film festival site explains that the festival started in 1995 when Sarajevo was at war as a way "to see the outside world and, in the same time, to make the world aware of their suffering and struggle in the besieged city." The first festival drew 15,000 moviegoers; last year's festival drew 100,000.

I hadn't heard of most of the films premiering at Sarajevo Film Festival either: the gala selections include Waiting for the Clouds (Bulutlari beklerken), filmed in Turkey, France, and Germany; and Hostage (Omiros), filmed in Greece and Turkey. Most of the competition films are from Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, or Bulgaria. The international "Panorama" selections do include films I know: Broken Flowers, 2046, and one from Austin: Kyle Henry's Room, which also screened at Cannes this year.

Schedules like this remind me of the reason why I particularly like attending film festivals: not to see big-name independent films before everyone else does (although that does hold a certain appeal), but to see wonderful movies that I might not otherwise have the opportunity to see. I've become particularly fond of short films recently, and outside of a film festival, when do you ever get to see those? I keep thinking about going to Toronto next year around this time, but perhaps southeastern Europe would be more rewarding.

categories Movies, Cinematical