The year 2016 started on an optimistic note for the film industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Death in Sarajevo by Danis Tanović, produced by SCCA/pro.ba in cooperation with Margo Films (France) and France 3 Cinéma, premiered in the 66th Berlin Film Festival’s International Competition, winning the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI Prize. This success could not balance the negative trend of cutting down the production support in the country as the Film Fund allocated only 651,385 EUR for the development, production and coproduction support in 2016.
A new Cinema Law, which was discussed in the Parliament in 2015, still hasn't seen the light of day and the Bosnian Audiovisual Centre has not been launched, leaving the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina to handle most of the promotion, strategy making, lobbying and networking for the film industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The year 2016 saw the production of five feature films, that are expected to premiere in 2017.
Those Dark Nights by François Lunel, produced by Bosnian company Rose Films in coproduction with French companies Promenades Films and Sycomore Films, is a war story about 28 year old Haska who, after losing her husband, decides to leave besieged Sarajevo through the mountains with her 9 year old son Denis.
Two debut features shot in 2016, both deal with post-war reality of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Men Don't Cry / Muškarci ne plaču directed by Alen Drljević and produced by Deblokada in coproduction with Živa, is a story of war veterans who fought on three different sides during the war and are brought together at workshops by an international peace organisation.
The Frog / Žaba directed by Elmir Jukić and produced by Refresh in coproduction with Skopje Film Studio, Living Pictures and Propeler filmom, is an adaptation of a hit theatre play about the search for love and meaning in the country stuck in the process of transition.
Dead Fish Float on Their Backs / Mrtve ribe plivaju na leđima, directed by Kristijan Milić and produced by Oktavijan in coproduction with Eurofilm, was shot in Mostar and covers a complex story of 42 characters all connected to a retired teacher who committed suicide.
Herzegovinian production house Kadar coproduced The Eighth Commissioner / Osmi povjerenik, a debute feature directed by Ivan Salaj and produced by Alka film, telling the story of an ambitious politician Siniša Mesjak, who ends up living on the island of Trečić.
Death in Sarajevo is the only majority coproduction from Bosnia and Herzegovina released in 2016. Another six feature films released in 2016 were made in coproduction with Bosnian and Herzegovinian production houses as minority coproducers.
Cristi Puiu's Sieranevada was coproduced by 2006 d.o.o., Mirjana Karanović's A Good Wife by Deblokada, while Vlado Škafar's Mother, Goran Kapetanović's My Aunt in Sarajevo, Damjan Kozole's Nightlife and Dane Komljen's All the Cities of the North, were all coproduced by SCCA/pro.ba. For these feature films Bosnian and Herzegovinian production companies cooperated with partners from Croatia, France, Italy, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia.
Documentary films still dominate film production in the country with eleven short and five long documentaries released in 2016.
Long documentary White Road / Bijeli put, directed by Zdenko Jurilj and produced by Kadar, tells the story of a convoy of 90 trucks of humanitarian aid that travelled through the front lines during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina to Central Bosnia, just to get attacked on their way back.
Remy Ourdan's and Patrick Chauvel's Siege / Opsada, produced by Agat Films & Cie, Arte France, INA and SCCA/pro.ba, concentrates on the ordeal of citizens of Sarajevo during the longest siege in modern history.
Scream for Me Sarajevo, directed by Tarik Hodžić and produced by Prime Time, tells the story of the times when Bruce Dickinson came to Sarajevo to hold an underground concert.
Stefan Malešević introduces us to Gorani, people living in remote mountain villages situated on the borders of Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia, in his long documentary Gora produced by Slovofilm.
Under the Cover concentrates on head-scarfs and the lives of young Muslim women who decided to wear them as an expression of their faith. The film was directed by Nejra Latić Hulusić and Sabrina Begović Ćorić, and produced by Hava Film.
Six short fiction films and one short animated film were also released in 2016.
A total of 194 films premiered in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016 and another 24 continued screening from 2015. A total of 158 films were released in 2015.
There was just one film produced in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Death in Sarajevo, that was released in 2016. The film had five screenings during the Sarajevo Film Festival and 1,641 admissions and 4,204 EUR gross in regular cinema distribution.
Three distribution companies, Blitz Film & Video Distribution, Una Film and 2iFilm, dominated the market in 2016, with a 71% market share.
Bosnia and Herzegovina hosted the 22nd Sarajevo Film Festival in 2016, as well as a number of smaller film festivals. As problems with funding in all spheres of culture are evident, it was not surprising that a well-known festival, Kratkofil Plus from Banja Luka, had to close down in March 2016.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
Most films in Bosnia and Herzegovina are screened in five multiplexes: Cinema City in Sarajevo, Multiplex Palas in Banja Luka, CineStar Mostar in Mostar, Multiplex Ekran in Zenica and Cinestar Bihać in Bihać.
Three of the five multiplexes (Cinema City, Multiplex Palas and Multiplex Ekran) are part of the Europa Cinemas Network and part of their programmes is dedicated to artistic, predominantly European films. The most important Bosnian and Herzegovinian art house cinema is still Cinema Meeting Point, another member of the Europa Cinemas Network, that is run by the Obala Art Center, the organisation behind the Sarajevo Film Festival.
As most of the smaller towns in the country still have no infrastructure for regular film screenings, they depend greatly on Operation Kino, a cinema-on-wheels project organised by the Sarajevo Film Festival in cooperation with Transilvania Film Festival, Sofia Film Festival and Istanbul Film Festival since 2010. In 2016 Operation Kino visited 24 towns throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, bringing with them all the technology needed for digital film screenings.
Operation Kino, in cooperation with Reelport GmbH, established a Video on Demand platform offering to the audiences from Bosnia and Herzegovina a number of titles participating in the project, as well as masterclasses and interviews.
In 2016 the biggest box office hits in cinemas in Bosnia and Herzegovina were produced in the US: Deadpool with 77,735 EUR / 152,037 KM gross, Ice Age: Collision Course with 70,657 EUR / 138,193 KM gross, Suicide Squad with 67,274 EUR / 131,576 KM gross, The Secret Life of Pets (2D and 3D) with 57,571 EUR / 112,599 KM gross, The Revenant with 50,316 EUR / 98,409 KM gross, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice with 49,148 EUR / 96,125 KM gross, Inferno with 47,969 EUR / 93,819 KM gross, Warcraft: The Beginning (3D) with 45,711 EUR / 89,404 KM gross, Fifty Shades of Black with 43,748 EUR / 85,564 KM gross and Rogue One with 43,634 EUR / 85,341 KM gross.
As ticket prices vary depending on the city/town where the cinema is located and on the fact that tickets for 3D screenings are more expensive than for 2D, there is a slight difference between the admissions top ten and the box office.
The admissions Top 10 paints a slightly different picture. Deadpool still tops the charts with 29,267 admissions, followed by Ice Age: Collision Course with 27,266 admissions. The Secret Life of Pets (2D & 3D) switched places with Suicide Squad and occupy the 3rd and 4th place with 25,236 and 22,035 admissions respectively. Fifty Shades of Black went up to the 5th place with 19,335 admissions, followed by Inferno with 19,022 admissions and Revenant with 18,754 admissions.
Two comedies coming from Serbia managed to get in the admissions top ten in 2016 ranking 7th and 8th: Military Academy 3, directed by Dejan Zečević and produced by Nira Pro, with 17,947 admissions and The Flock, directed by Nikola Kojo and produced by K-12, with 17,860 admissions. Warcraft: The Beginning (3D) closed the list with 16,877 leaving Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Rouge One off it.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
In 2016 the Film Fund in Bosnia and Herzegovina continued the practice of opening the call for applications at the end of the year, so the list of winning projects was announced in January 2017. Danis Tanović, Jasmila Žbanić and Ines Tanović received support for the production of their feature films 9034, Srebrenica and Son. Four more minority coproductions, including new films by Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Srdan Golubović, were supported.
Once again, film production funds were cut from 677,467 EUR allocated in 2015 to 651,385 EUR in 2016. Although the cut doesn't seem big, it is a sign that public institutions still don’t understand the needs of film industry. Funding was cut in 2014, had a slight rise in 2015, and was then cut again in 2016, never getting to the amount of 777,164 EUR / 1,520,000 KM from 2013.
As the Film Fund is allowed to allocate funding only to production companies registered in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, production companies from Republika Srpska depend on the willingness of the Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska to open a call for co-funding of film projects. The Ministry opened a call in August 2015 allocating 51,129 EUR to one feature film and four long documentaries.
A new Cinema Law, which was discussed in the Parliament in 2015, still hasn't seen the light of day and the Bosnian Audiovisual Centre has not been launched, leaving the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina to handle most of the promotion, strategy making, lobbying and networking for the film industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina. With the Film Fund implementing cuts in “co-financing of complementary activities”, the Association of Filmmakers will face difficulties with organising its activities in 2017.
In 2016, the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina started serving as the organisation for collective management of copyright and related rights for filmmakers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The main public channels in Bosnia and Herzegovina are the Radio Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Radio Television of Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Radio Television of Republika Srpska.
None of them funds feature films, but all of them produce both short and long documentaries. Until a few years ago, they were involved in the coproduction of feature films, so film professionals are hoping that the new Cinema Law will encourage their involvement in feature film production once again.
The most important private TV channels in the country are Al Jazeera Balkans and Hayat TV. Al Jazeera produces independent documentaries and Hayat TV is involved in the production of smaller scale sitcoms from time to time. In the last years Face TV also produced several documentaries.
Report by: Tina Šmalcelj (2017)Sources: Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo Film Festival Industry Office, Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska