Systematic neglect of film industry in Bosnia and Herzegovina, combined with strong political influences, is starting to show its ugly head, despite the tireless efforts of film professionals. Cinema Law hasn’t been adopted yet, which means that there is still no public body responsible for forming policies and the promotion of Bosnian and Herzegovinian film, and the Film Fund has cut the funds allocated for projects of the Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the third year in a row.
As the Association is filling the gap left by the non-existent film centre and has been taking over more and more responsibilities for the development and promotion of film industry in the whole country, this move will put the industry in even greater jeopardy in the future.
Despite the difficulties, the Association managed to put up the BH Film Programme, which is organised under the umbrella of the Sarajevo Film Festival and shows the complete yearly production of Bosnia and Herzegovina, maintains the Database of BH Films and keeps working on the international promotion of BH films.
Film Centre Sarajevo has announced several projects that could be of interest both to the local audience and to tourists. But the opening of the “Drive-in Cinema Dolly Bell”, named after Kusturica’s Do You Remember Dolly Bell?, 1981, produced by Sutjeska Film and Kinema Sarajevo, was postponed last summer and is expected to take place in 2019, while the Museum “Walter Defends Sarajevo”, which will focus on the legacy of the famous film Walter Defends Sarajevo (1972), directed by Hajrudin Šiba Krvavac and produced by Bosna film, is planned for February 2019.
Three feature films were shot in 2018 and are expected to premiere in 2019.
Son / Sin by Ines Tanović, is the only film of eight feature films supported by the Film Fund since 2015 that has gone into production. Son is produced by Dokument from Bosnia and Herzegovina in coproduction with Croatia’s Spiritus Movens, Slovenia’s Monoo, Macedonia’s Cut-up and Romania’s Luna Film. The project is supported by Eurimages.
Also in 2018 Faruk Lončarević shot his third feature film The Woods / Šuma. It is a micro-budget film that was shot in five days with a minimal financial support from the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Sarajevo Canton, and from the Academy of Performing Arts in Sarajevo.
Full Moon / Pun mjesec, a debut feature by Nermin Hamzagić, is the third film of 2018. It was supported by the Film Fund with postproduction funding and produced by SCCA/pro.ba.
Two more films were shot in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018: Sympathy for the Devil by Guillaume de Fontenay (coproduced by SCCA/pro.ba) and The Heroes Die Last / Les héros ne meurent jamais by Aude Léa Rapin (serviced by SCCA/pro.ba).
Six domestic films were distributed in cinemas in 2018.
The highest grossing domestic film of the year was the documentary Scream for Me Sarajevo directed by Tarik Hodžić and produced by Prime Time, with 3,620 EUR / 7,080 KM gross and 1,367 admissions.
It was followed by Elmir Jukić‘s debut feature The Frog / Žaba (produced by Refresh Production in coproduction with Macedonia’s Skopje Film Studio, Serbia’s Living Pictures, Croatia’s Propeler Film and Iridium Film) with 3,041 EUR / 5,948 KM gross and 999 admissions.
Never Leave Me / Ne ostavljaj me, directed by Aida Begić and produced by Film House Sarajevo and Turkey’s Beşir Derneği, had the second largest attendance with 1,387 admissions, but it ranked 3rd in the box office with 2,338 EUR / 4,572.5 KM gross.
Good Days Work / Dobar dan za posao, directed by Martin Turk and produced by Obala Art Center, topped the admission charts with 1,389 admissions and 839 EUR / 1,641.5 KM gross. It might seem odd that the film with the highest admissions ended so low in the charts, but this is mostly due to the fact that Good Days Work was shown throughout the country as part of the travelling cinema Operacija Kino, which as one of many Sarajevo Film Festival’s projects aimed at audience development, doesn’t charge for tickets.
Two more domestic films were theatrically released in 2018. Nothing but a Wind / Ništa, samo vjetar, a debut feature directed by Timur Makarević and produced by SCCA/pro.ba in coproduction with Slovenia’s Chinema Film, Romania’s Digital Cube and Poland’s Madants, had 110 admissions and 301 EUR / 588,5 KM gross, while the documentary Tifa, directed by Bakir Hadžiomerović and produced by Fist, had 150 admissions and 272 EUR / 532 KM gross.
A total of 217 films premiered in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2018 and another 15 from 2017 continued distribution. There is a decrease in titles from 237 films that premiered in 2017 plus another 17 that continued distribution from 2016, but this didn’t reflect negatively on the total box office and admissions in 2018.
Blitz Film & Video Distribution dominated the market with 53% market share. The situation changed from 2017 when Una Film and 2iFilm, together with Blitz, dominated the market with 83.8% market share.
In 2018, Una Film had 16.97% of market share and Continental Film, 2i Film and Oskar Film all came close with 10.26%, 9.86% and 9.10% market share respectively.
In 2018 Bosnia and Herzegovina hosted the 24th Sarajevo Film Festival, as well as a number of smaller film festivals.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
In 2018 Bosnia and Herzegovina lost one more art house cinema, when Kriterion closed in Sarajevo. There is still a possibility that the cinema will continue its work in 2019, but no information has been released yet.
The most important art house cinema with a predominantly European programme is still Cinema Meeting Point, a member of the Europa Cinemas Network. The cinema is run by the Obala Art Center, the organisation behind the Sarajevo Film Festival.
Three more cinemas are part of Europa Cinemas Network: Multiplex Ekran in Zenica, Cineplexx Palas in Banja Luka and Multiplex Cinema City in Sarajevo.
Most films in Bosnia and Herzegovina are screened in those three multiplexes and also in CineStar Cinemas, located in Mostar, Bihać and Tuzla. Operation Kino is also part of the Europa Cinemas Network.
The big cinema hit from neighbouring Serbia, South Wind directed by Miloš Avramović and produced by Režim and Eye to Eye, shook the general box office in 2018, ending at the top of the charts. However, American films still dominate with 79.76% share.
The highest grossing films in 2018 were: South Wind / Južni Vetar (with 228,155 EUR / 446,232 KM gross), Fifty Shades Freed (with 98,235 EUR / 192,131 KM gross), Avengers: Infinity War (with 95,111 EUR / 186,021 KM gross), Venom (with 79,896 EUR / 156,262 KM gross), Deadpool 2 (with 75,273 EUR / 147,911 KM gross), Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (with 72,584 EUR / 141,961 KM gross), Bohemian Rhapsody (with 71,694 EUR / 140,221 KM gross), Aquaman (with 65,673 EUR / 128,446 KM gross), Hotel Transylvania 3 (with 63,569 EUR / 124,331 KM gross), The Meg (with 62,863 EUR / 122,949 KM gross).
Total admissions increased by 7.85 percent from 1,082,708 admissions in 2017 to 1,167,786 admissions in 2018. Total box office increased by 7.07 percent from 2,897,107 EUR / 5,666,249 KM in 2017 to 3,102,097 EUR / 6,067,174 KM in 2018.
All in all, admissions to domestic films increased by 124 percent from 2,410 admissions in 2017 to 5,402 admissions in 2018. General box office shows a 46.9 percent rise from 6,708 EUR / 13,121.5 KM in 2017 to 10,411.18 EUR / 20,362.5 KM in 2018.
Because of the rise, the data might look very optimistic, but it is obvious that the lack of an adequate film policy is harming this part of the industry greatly, too.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
The Film Fund announced the recipients of grants for development, coproduction and production of feature films and production of short fiction, animated and documentary films in October 2018.
The Film Fund allocated 654,453 EUR / 1,280,000 KM in 2018. The production of two feature films and one documentary was supported, as well as the postproduction of one feature film. The production of seven short films and four minority coproductions (with Canada, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia) received support.
In 2018, the Ministry of Culture and Sport of Sarajevo Canton decided to support films through its own scheme for the production of cultural projects.
Once again the Ministry of Education and Culture of Republika Srpska allocated a shockingly small amount of 30,677 EUR / 60,000 KM for film projects by filmmakers from Republika Srpska. To make the situation even worse, the Government of Republika Srpska decided to allocate 99,702 EUR / 195,000 KM for the Serbian film Kralj Petar I / King Peter the First, directed by Petar Ristovski and produced by Zillion Film, outside of any call for film production financing.
No new legislation was adopted in 2018 and filmmakers are still left on their own to organise the industry, which they mostly do through professional associations, film festivals and the organisation of different conferences and film forums.
Television stations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 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, but none of them funds feature films.
Al Jazeera Balkans is still involved in documentary film production, supporting further development of documentary filmmaking in the country on a big scale. In 2018 Al Jazeera Balkans organised the first international AJB DOC Film Festival.
There is still no support for the development of TV series, so they are mostly produced independently and then sold to the television.
Report by: Tina Šmalcelj (2019)Sources: Association of Filmmakers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo Film Festival’s Statistics and Analysis Department, Zoran Galić (VizArt production)