There was an initiative a long time ago to hold Fest at this time of year. The arguments for such a proposal were significantly different from those that conditioned this atypical May edition of our festival. With respect to all epidemiological measures, the 49th edition of Fest is ahead of us, with a large number of films that will make you think, laugh, as well as shed a few tears. No wonder, because the worlds of filmmakers that have been transformed into this year's Fest films are just moving images of reality or imagination that, as time passes, become more and more intertwined.
This year, in the race for the Belgrade Victor award are 18 films from Serbia, France, Germany, the USA, Greece, Iran, Slovenia, Hungary, Turkey, Croatia, Argentina, Great Britain, Tunisia, Ivory Coast… Among the directors whose films are competing are the Fest returnees - Oleg Novković, Argyris Papadimitropoulos, Susanna Nicchiarelli, Dalibor Matanić, Vinko Möderndorfer, Lili Horvat. The latest films by Majid Majidi, Danilo Šerbedžija, Ivan Ikić, Marko Berger, Oskar Roehler, Barbara Ott are among the candidates for awards as well.
Fest films - from strictly intimate stories to those whose epilogues have great social significance - offer honestly exposed parts of the lives of individuals who, with or without courage, have changed their lives and the lives of those around them.
The films of this year's Main Programme are bold adaptations of the same scenarios and most often open questions to which it is difficult to give a universal answer. The relativization of standards and the demand for answers to unasked questions that life imposes are not the privilege of the Main Programme alone.
The Fest Focus programme, 15 films of which are being premiered at the Belgrade Youth Centre, again this year offers a film patchwork whose parts are united by a bold authorial expression. From chamber dramas to successful attempts to demystify complex human destinies through genre improvisations imposed by the themes themselves, Fest Focus is a selection that puts form in the background, behind the content.
At almost 200 film screenings (from May 7 to 16), it is possible to see premieres of 71 feature films, five short films (Fest Intro) and 10 timeless classics that marked the history of our festival. When it comes to numbers, they look like this: at the 49th Fest we will see 20 debut films, women have directed 19 Festival titles, while eight films in various selections deal with LGBT topics.
At this year's Fest, a significant presence of domestic films is noticeable. Serbian film production is present in almost all segments of the Festival. We will see six feature films, three short films and two full-length domestic film co-productions.
The Gala Festival programme, which traditionally attracts the largest number of spectators, this year brings together the latest films by filmmakers such as Chloé Zhao, Woody Allen, Florian Zeller, Viggo Mortensen, István Szabó, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Isabel Coixet, Darius Marder, Emerald Fennell, Lee Isaac Chung, Simon Stone, whose film ‘The Dig’ opens the Festival. On the big screen in the Gala programme you will see Frances McDormand, Carrey Mulligan, Johnny Depp, Riz Ahmed, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Colin Firth, Ralph Fiennes, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Javier Bardem, Branka Katić, Sigourney Weaver, Sаlma Hayek, Helen Mirren, Mira Furlan, Juliette Binoche, Tilda Swinton... We will see some of them in several films, such as the aforementioned Carrey Mulligan, our Boris Isaković, Leon Lučev as well as certainly one of the most important German actors of today, Jannis Niewöhner. There are many actors, screenwriters, directors that you will discover at Fest for the first time this year, who will be the focus of attention in texts like this in the coming years. Festivals, among other things, serve to do just that, to introduce those names that are at the beginning of a successful future career alongside already established ones and make them famous.
Before the beginning of film screenings in several programme sections, and within the Fest Intro section, you will see short films of directors such as Pedro Almodóvar as well as Luka Bursać, Nika Fehmiu, Aleksandar Adžić and Katarina Koljević.
In its rich film offer, the 49th Fest will draw attention to some personalities from art history, as well as from other areas of life, such as Sean McGowan, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Eleanor Marx, Petar Hektorović, David Štrbac, Jerome David Salinger, Basil Brown, Mary Anning, Miljen Kreka Kljaković, who, along with Puriša Đorđević and Rade Šerbedžija, is the laureate of this year's honorary Fest award, the Belgrade Victor for Outstanding Contribution to Film Art.
In anticipation of this year's jubilee, we are showing the Fest classics under the name Fest's Fifty. Especially for this occasion, flawless copies of masterpieces by Kubrick, Schlesinger, Schlöndorff, Tarkovsky, Buñuel, Visconti, Bergman, Beineix and Demme were provided.
We have ten festival days ahead of us that offer plenty. It is up to you to try to experience as much as possible.
Artistic Director of Fest
Belgrade, April 2021