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News 23 Feb 17

FEST Remains Serbia's Most Vital and Provocative Film Festival

Easily the most popular and substantial Serbian festival for many years running, the 45th instalment of FEST will surely not disappoint its fans this year either.

David Galic
“The Invisible Guest” will be screened on March 1st-3rd. Photo: fest.rs.

Under the slogan “Look!”, this year's festival boasts a programme of more than 90 new films, including blockbusters with Oscar-nods and some of the best films that domestic directors have to offer.

Starting on February 24, the festival will last until March 5 – a full ten days.

There will be a lot of star power at the opening as well, with Hollywood stalwart Monica Bellucci set to make an appearance. She stars in the renowned Serbian director Emir Kusturica's “On the Milky Road,” which will be featured at this year's festival as well.

Films from Hollywood heavyweights Martin Scorsese and Jim Jarmusch are also included in the program: “Silence” and “Patterson” respectively.

Anyone who wants to brush up on the films that make up the strong favourites list this year for taking home Academy Awards should take heed. Barry Jenkins’s “Moonlight,” Kenneth Lonergan's “Manchester By the Sea,” the Tom Ford-directed “Nocturnal Animals”, and “Elle” by Paul Verhoeven are some of the international movies that are receiving tons of Oscar buzz, and will all be featured at this year's FEST.

“The international competition programme this year features a great variety of themes – from films dealing with the very relevant evil of terrorism to nostalgic comedies that take us back to the time of blue school uniforms in the era of socialism,” FEST's art director Jugoslav Pantelic said at a recent press conference.

Several other Oscar-worthy films to be on the lookout for are “The Salesman” by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi – who was recently in the news for boycotting the Oscars in protest at Trump’s administration's immigration policies – “Land of Mine” by Martin Zandvliet and the animated “My Life as a Zucchini” by Swiss director Claude Barras.

According to FEST's main film selector Mladen Djordjevic, another part of the programme that should be interesting to committed cinephiles will be the “Borders” category, which he says features films that blur the lines between the documentary and feature genres.

Djordjevic told Belgrade daily Blic that there are several subversive, art-house films in this part of the programme that are incredibly “interesting and provocative,” naming Federica Di Giacomo's award-winning “Libera Nos” as one to watch in particular - a film that takes a look at the world of modern day exorcists in the Catholic Church.

Another one is Ulrich Seidl's documentary “Safari”, which Djordjevic calls “a provocative portrait of Western culture that speaks about people who take safari trips to kill wild animals to seek an experience of emotional freedom”.

One of the most controversial movies of last year, the documentary “Rocco,” is yet another big event that many festival goers are looking forward to seeing. The documentary follows legendary porno star Rocco Siffredi as he openly discusses his life and work as one of the most recognised adult film actors in the world.

“This 'behind the scenes' documentary shows Rocco being very honest in demystifying the harsh world of show business, speaking openly about how he started his career, his relationship with his parents, and very often giving statements that break apart the myth behind the man,” Djordjevic told Blic.

As usual, FEST's programme cannot be catered to by one venue alone, and will feature several in Belgrade – Sava Centre, Cineplexx Usce, Dom Omladine, Fontana, the Yugoslav Film Archive, UK Palilula and more – along with venues in Kragujevac, Novi Sad, Sopot and even as far as the Montenegrin resort town of Budva.

Tickets for individual screenings will cost in between three and five euros, depending on the film. For more information on tickets and the programme itself, visit the festival’s official website: www.fest.rs.

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.

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