Bosnia and Herzegovina

Quo Vadis Aida? by Jasmila ŽbanićMARKET ANALYSIS 2020

SARAJEVO: The already fragile film industry of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been severely shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. The cinema attendance dropped by 70% compared to 2019 results, almost all production has been moved to 2021 and, as there is still no Cinema Law or Film Centre in the country, filmmakers could only count on themselves to try and weather the storm.

Several professional associations, the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Sarajevo Film Festival in the first place, are trying to cover as many as possible of the development and promotional needs that should be handled by a film centre inside the country and abroad, but it is a question of time, especially if this unfavourable situation continues, till they will have to give up on this and concentrate on their primary missions only.

The Sarajevo Film Festival - and with it the BH Film Programme, which shows the complete yearly production of Bosnia and Herzegovina -  was organised completely online in 2020, as public gatherings were banned in Sarajevo during the summer of 2020.

Film Center Sarajevo, with Ines Tanović as acting director, started two new projects - the Free Cinema “Walter”, that shows only Bosnian and Herzegovinian films from their archives, and the set of lectures titled “How to Read Film” and open for the general public. 

Although total admissions dropped by 70 percent, domestic admissions increased by more than 400 percent, mostly thanks to the cinema success of Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida?

A new incentive scheme and an increase of funds announced for 2020 were delayed for better times.

PRODUCTION

Only one film went into production in 2020 and is expected to be released in 2021.

Aida Begić, whose two previous feature films competed at the Cannes Film Festival, winning her the Best Film Award at Critics Week for Snow (2008, Mamafilm) and the Special Distinction Award at Un Focus, Grandma by Pjer ŽalicaCertain Regard for Children of Sarajevo (2012, Film House), shot her fourth feature film. The shooting of The Ballade, a modern interpretation of the famous folk poem Hasanaginica, was delayed from April to November 2020 because of the pandemic. The Ballade is produced by Film House and it was supported by the Film Fund

COVID GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

There was no government support for the filmmakers affected by COVID-19 or for the film industry in general, despite several attempts of professionals and professional associations to communicate their needs to the representatives of the Government.

DISTRIBUTION

American films had most admissions in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019, but an interesting thing happened as a consequence of the pandemic. As most of the American studios decided to delay the release of new films, distributors of Bosnian and Herzegovinian films used the opportunity to put more domestic films on the market.

Two new domestic films were released in 2020, Quo Vadis, Aida? and Focus, Grandma.

Quo Vadis, Aida? directed by Jasmila Žbanić and produced by Deblokada in coproduction with Austria’s Coop99, Romania’s Digital Cube, the Netherlands’ N279 Productions, Germany’s Razor Film, Poland’s Extreme Emotions, France’s Indie Prod and Norway's Tordenfilm, had a success that had not been recorded for a domestic film in the last 10 years, finishing in the box office and admissions Top 10 in 2020 with 36,162 EUR / 70,726.5 KM gross and 11,340 admissions.

Focus, Grandma / Koncentriši se baba directed by Pjer Žalica and produced by the Obala Art Centar under the umbrella of Sarajevo Film Festival’s Sarajevo City of Film project, was the second domestic film released in 2020. It had 4,298 KM gross and 786 admissions.

Full Moon / Pun mjesec, a debut feature by Nermin Hamzagić, produced by SCCA/pro.ba, continued distribution from 2019 adding 847 EUR / 1,656 KM and 365 admissions to the 2019 results of 838.5 EUR / 1,640 KM gross and 425 admissions.

Full Moon by Nermin HamzagićTwo more films, Good Day’s Work by Martin Turk and SEE Factory, both produced by Obala Art Centar and initially released in 2018, had re-runs in 2020

A total of 109 films premiered in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2020 (of which three films were screened for only one day, as they premiered on 31 December), with another 27 films continuing distribution from 2019 and 19 films having re-runs. The numbers show a 50% drop in released films compared to 219 films that premiered in cinemas in the country in 2019. The complete picture shows a 70% drop in admissions and a 69.5% drop in box office.

Blitz Film & Video Distribution acquired 2iFilm at the beginning of 2020, which resulted with the merger of the two companies that had dominated the market in 2019. Consequently, Blitz continued to dominate the market with 50.66% market share, compared to 40.7% share in 2019.

Continental Film saw a significant increase in the share from 9.09% in 2019 to 17.82% in 2020. Una Film recorded a drop in their market share percentage for the second year in a row, dropping from 14.47% share in 2019 to 13.41% in 2020. Oskar Film’s share also decreased from 11.24% in 2019 to 10.45% in 2020.

VOD PLATFORMS AND ONLINE DISTRIBUTION 

Good Days Work by Martin TurkAfter successfully organising the 26th Sarajevo Film Festival online, Obala Art Centar decided to use the developed platform to create the premium content VoD Meeting Point on Demand. Meeting Point on Demand is envisioned as pay-to-watch VoD that will have no subscription and where films will be available for a limited time in chosen regions, depending on the available rights.

Thanks to this, Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida? became the first film to use a distribution model in which it has been available in cinemas and online from the very beginning of its distribution.

After this, four more films have been screened at Meeting Point on Demand: Full Moon by Nermin Hamzagić, the Serbian film Father directed by Srdan Golubović and produced by Baš Čelik in coproduction with French ASAP Films, German Neue Mediopolis, Croatian Propeler Film, Slovenian SCCA/pro.ba, Bosniana and Herzegovinian SCCA/pro.ba, ZDF Arte and Arte France, as well as the Croatian/Swiss Mare directed by Andrea Štaka and produced by Okofilm Productions in coproduction with Croatian Dinaridi film, Swiss SRF and SRG SSR and ZDF/ARTE.

It will take some time to see how successful the platform is, as there are still no exact numbers for the films distributed through it, although the screenings of the 2020 Sarajevo Film Festival proved that there is an audience for premium content in all parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE

The exhibition circuit might have taken the hardest blow in 2020, as cinemas were closed due to the lockdown for full 10 weeks from 18 March till 28 May 2020.

SEE Factory - Red Stain by Urška Djukić (Slovenia) and Gabriel Tzafka (Greece, Denmark)After the acquisition of Multiplex Ekran by CineStar Group, only three cinemas are now part of the Europa Cinemas network: Cinema Meeting Point, the most important art house cinema in the country (located in Sarajevo), Cineplexx Palas (located in Banja Luka) and Multiplex Cinema City (located in Sarajevo).

In 2020 CineStar Cinemas, after the aforementioned acquisition and opening of the new multiplex in Sarajevo, came to the number of six multiplexes with 35 screens in Banja Luka, Bihać, Mostar, Sarajevo and Tuzla. Most of the films in the country are screened in these cinemas.

Cineplexx Group also announced the opening of a new eight-screens-multiplex in Sarajevo in 2020, but the opening has been delayed because of the pandemic. 

American films dominated the Bosnian and Herzegovinian box office in 2020, with a visible decrease in share from 83.59% in 2019 to 72.52% in 2020, but domestic films showed a rise in the market share from 0.18% in 2019 to 3.23% in 2020.

The highest grossing films in 2020 were: Bad Boys for Life with 102,336 EUR / 200,152 KM gross, The Gentlemen with 58,995 EUR  / 115,383 KM gross, Holop with 52,373 EUR / 102,433 KM gross, Tenet with 36,695 EUR / 71,768 KM gross, Quo Vadis, Aida? with 36,162 EUR / 70,726 KM gross, Jumanji: Next Level with 35,959 EUR / 70,329 KM gross, Greenland with 35,802 EUR / 70,023 KM gross, Trouble with 32,010 EUR / 62,607 KM gross, 1917 with 28,852 EUR / 56,430 KM gross, Fantasy Island with 28,196 EUR / 55,147 KM gross.

Quo Vadis Aida by Jasmila ŽbanićTotal admissions decreased by 69.5 percent from 1,293,760 in 2019 to 387,691 admissions in 2020. Total box office decreased by 70 percent from 3,496,957 EUR / 6,839,454 KM in 2019 to 1,067,755 EUR / 2,088,347 KM in 2020.

Admissions to domestic films increased by 438 percent from 2,322 in 2019 to 12,499 in 2020. Domestic box office shows a 786 percent growth from 4,425 EUR / 8,654 KM in 2019 to 39,224 EUR / 76,715 KM.

GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION

The Film Fund announced the recipients of grants for production and development of feature and short films in September 2020.

A total of 628,889 EUR / 1,230,000 KM was allocated for all these categories. The production of three feature films and six long documentaries was supported, as well as the production of 14 short fiction, documentary, animated and experimental films. Additionally, three minority coproductions with North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia received funding.

The Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Sarajevo Canton continued supporting films in 2020 through its own scheme for the production of cultural projects.

Two big announcements regarding funding were made in 2019, but unfortunately nothing happened with either the incentives scheme or regarding the raise in funds available for production through the Film Fund.

The Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska announced their call once again. This time the amount of 25,564 EUR / 50,000 KM was planned for feature film development and short film production. Two feature films and two documentary features, as well as three animated projects were supported.

Full Moon by Nermin HamzagićAfter 2018, when 30,677 EUR / 60,000 KM had been allocated and 2019, when none of the 51,130 EUR / 100,000 KM planned by the call for applications announced in October 2019 had been allocated, as the Expert Committee decided that there was not even one project worthy of production support, the 2020 call shows there is not much interest in the production of feature films in Republika Srpska.

TV

Television channels in Bosnia and Herzegovina are still not investing in feature films. All of them though, especially the three main public channels - the Radio Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Radio Television of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Radio Television of Republika Srpska, produce short and long documentaries.

Al Jazeera Balkans is still involved in documentary film production, further supporting the development of documentary filmmaking in the country on a big scale. In 2020 Al Jazeera continued supporting the documentary field by approving financial and expert support to students of the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo for their short documentaries.

BH Telecom announced a call for TV series projects in February 2020, but the results haven’t been made public yet.

There is still no public support for the development of TV series, so they are mostly produced independently and then sold to the television.

CONTACTS:

ASSOCIATION OF FILMMAKERS OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Branilaca Sarajeva 20/2, 71000 Sarajevo
Phone / Fax: +387 33 667 452
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
www.bhfilm.ba

FILM FUND
Obala Maka Dizdara 2 (building of Federal Ministry of Culture and Sports), 71000 Sarajevo
Phone: +387 33 206 704
Fax: +387 33 226 675
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
www.fondacijakinematografija.ba

Pjer Zalica - director of Focus, GrandmaMINISTRY OF CULTURE AND SPORTS OF FBIH
Obala Maka Dizdara 2, 71000 Sarajevo
Nothing But a Wind by Timur MakarevićPhone: +387 33 254 100
Fax: +387 33 226 675
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
www.fmks.gov.ba

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE OF REPUBLIKA SRPSKA
Trg Republike Srpske 1, 78000 Banja Luka
Phone: +387 51 338 721 (Monika Ponjavić, representative of RS in Eurimages)
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
www.vladars.net

FILM CENTER SARAJEVO
Fadila Jahića Španca 1, 71000 Sarajevo
Phone / Fax: +387 33 873 027
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
www.fcs.ba

THE NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVES OF BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Alipašina 19, 71000 Sarajevo
Phone / Fax: +387 33 668 678
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Report by: Tina Šmalcelj (2021)
Sources: Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo Film Festival’s Statistics and Analysis Department, Zoran Galić (VizArt production), Agency for the Statistics in Bosnia and Herzegovina