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news 21 Aug 15

Benicio del Toro Gets Heart of Sarajevo Award

The Puerto Rican actor received the honorary Heart of Sarajevo award of the Sarajevo Film Festival before presenting a new film in which he is plays an aid worker during the 1992-5 war.

Elvira M. Jukic
  Benicio del Toro receiving the Heart of Sarajevo I Photo: SFF.ba

The actor Benicio del Toro became the main star of this year's Sarajevo Film Festival, SFF, after he presented his latest movie and thrilled some 3,000 film-lovers as he walked festival's red carpet to receive the honorary Heart of Sarajevo award.

“Someone asked me what makes this award here in Sarajevo different. For me this award represents courage, determination, inclusion and the spirit of going against all odds to bring something special to the others, the spirit of the phoenix,” the Oscar-winning actor said after receiving the award on Thursday evening.

The award that del Toro received has previously been given to stars such as Angelina Jolie, Gael Garcia Bernal, Steve Buscemi, Bela Tarr and others.  

Benicio's new film, "A Perfect Day", was shown as a part of the festival's main program on Thursday evening as well.

The film depicts international humanitarians at the end of Bosnia's 1992-95 war and shows the personalities of foreign aid workers as well as the scale of the war destruction in Bosnia.  

It follows several aid workers who are trying to take a man's corpse from a well, so that people from a nearby village can use the water, but who have trouble finding a rope long enough for the task.

Speaking on Friday, the director and the writer of the film, Fernando Leon de Aranoa, said he chose a film on Bosnia partly because he had been there during the war, working on documentaries, though he stressed that the same story could be used in any war.

Bosnian actor Fedja Stukan, who played in the film alongside Del Toro and Tim Robbins, said that although he experienced the war first hand, the story still felt authentic to him. He said the film had changed the way in which he sees foreign aid workers and their role in conflicts.

“Fernando was actually here in the war. It didn't feel this was a foreign director,” Stukan said.

Sitting next to Stukan, Del Toro explained that what attracted him to the script was the intertwining elements of comedy and drama, the story and the characters as well as historical reference and the seriousness of the topic.

The director of the Sarajevo Film Festival, Mirsad Purivatra, said the film got great feedback from the public after its showing on Thursday night.

Before the SFF closes on Saturday evening, its most popular open-air cinema programme will offer several more interesting films, such as "These Are the Rules," by Croatian director Ognjen Svilicic; "Irrational Man," by Woody Allen; "Chronic," by the Mexican director Michel Franco, as well as the Indian-French-British co-production "Tigers," directed by Bosnia's Oscar-winning film-maker Danis Tanovic.

The Sarajevo Film Festival was started during the war-time siege of the city in the 1990s. It has since grown into one of the biggest such events in Europe.

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