Arras Film Festival: focus on Balkan 90’s war films

Vinko Brešan at roundtable in Arras Vinko Brešan at roundtable in Arras credit: HAVC

The Arras Film Festival kicked off on November 2nd and will run until the 11th. This year, besides its regular programme, the festival is organising a focus programme with the theme of the former Yugoslav war in the 90s named ‘Conflicts in the Balkans: The Ex-Yugoslav War’. A total of 12 films will screen, of which two are Croatian: Witnesses by Vinko Brešan and The Living and the Dead by Kristijan Milić.

Along with the screenings of the abovementioned films, Vinko Brešan presented his film in person at the festival being held in the French town of Arras. He also participated in a round-table that discussed cinematography and the Balkan Wars – a theme closely tied to the focus programme within which his film is screening.

Vinko Brešan’s Witnesses is based on Jurica Pavičić’s book ‘Alabaster Sheep’. The plot spans 48 hours in a small Croatian town during the Homeland War and discusses the issues of individual guilt and the loss of soul in war. The film won five Golden Arenas and the Octavian Critics’ Award in Pula in 2003, was nominated for a Golden Bear in 2004, and won at festivals in Berlin, Karlovy Vary, Vlissingen, Motovun, Rome and Jerusalem, while the European Film Academy listed it in the top 42 European films of 2004.

The Living and the Dead by Kristijan Milić is an anti-war feature film based on the book by Josip Mlakić and is a Croatian-Bosnian & Herzegovinian co-production. The film is a war drama intertwining two stories – one from the 1993 war in Bosnia & Herzegovina and one that is set in the same place but in 1943. The film won eight Golden Arenas in Pula in 2007, and Milić won Best Director.

The Arras Film Festival, November 2nd to 11th, offers visitors a large selection of European films that have not yet screened in France, along with a few international premieres. The festival encourages the study of the history of film through various retrospectives, of which the focus programmes play an integral part.

All other information on this year’s focus programme ‘Conflicts in the Balkans: The Ex-Yugoslav War’ is available here. For more on the festival please click here.