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17th Sarajevo Film Festival Interview with… a Greek spectator in Sarajevo

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By Nadine Ravaud Like every year, a few Turkish and Greek movies are featured at the 17th Sarajevo Film Festival

On Monday, the audience at the Open Air Cinema absorbed the aesthetics of the banal in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

The film received the Cannes Film Festival's second most prestigious award, the Grand Prix, in a shared win with the film The Kid with a Bike by the Dardenne brothers. Interestingly, the film was produced through Turkey’s Zeyno Film, in co-production with the Bosnian company Production2006 Sarajevo.

In the same format as Paris, I Love You (2006) and New York, I Love You (2009), Do Not Forget me Istanbul (2011) focuses on the multicultural layers of Istanbul. Seven short films by English, Arabic, Bosnian, Serbian, Turkish, and Greek directors describe a city of unexpected encounters, and also a place where buried stories resurface. The documentary Ecumenopolis: City Without Limits (2011) by Imre Azem also tells the story of Istanbul and other mega-cities on a neo-liberal course to destruction.

In the New Currents series, the disturbing but very funny movie by Greek director Athina Rachel Tsangari depicts the mostly asexual 23-year old Marina learning about sex and love in the remains of an industrial community called Attenberg. Another interesting movie is Broken Mussels by Seyfettin Tokmak, with the very talented Selma Alispahić playing the role of Medina.

Café Babel interviewed Elephteria, a Greek SFF spectator who moved to Sarajevo eight months ago. She has been visiting Bosnia-Herzegovina many times, but it is her first Film Festival. Café Babel asked her about her relationship to Sarajevo and the region, the SFF and the movie by Argyris Papadimitropoulos and Jan Vogel, Wasted Youth, set in Elephteria’s native Athens.

Greek movies in SFF-Interview ElephteriaHow does it feel to be a Greek in Sarajevo? Do you consider yourself as ‘Balkan’?

It feels quite normal, because there are a lot of similarities between Bosnia-Herzegovina and my country, such as our music, our food, the sense of hospitability, being lazy… I never felt like I do not belong here. I really connect with the region, its people, but less with the freezing weather around here! Greece is located in the southern part of the Balkan Peninsula and we have always been considered a Balkan country. I do feel Balkan but, to be honest, first of all I feel Mediterranean.

What do you think of Sarajevo during the Film Festival - does it meet your expectations? It is my first time at the SFF. I love watching movies so I really enjoy it, as well as the atmosphere in the city. I have already seen numerous movies, including in the Open Air Cinema, and I really had fun. The organisation of the festival is quite good, and I think only the bad weather has caused problems…

Do you have Film Festivals in Greece? I can think of the very famous Thessaloniki International Film Festival, founded in the early 1960’s, which became international in 1992. It focuses mostly on independent cinema. It usually takes place during the first week of November, and it is a big event for the city.

Who are your favourite Greek movies/ directors? My three favorite Greek movies are Stella (1955) with the great actress Melina Mercouri, as well as A Touch of Spice (original title: Politiki Kouzina, 2003) and Brides (original title: Nyfes, 2004). Mihalis Kakogiannis, who died very recently, is one of my favourite directors, but there are a lot of young directors in Greece who should also get credit.

How would you describe Greek-Turkish relations? There is a common belief that we do not like each other, but my best friends while I was studying in the UK were Turkish. I guess the only difference is religion. As for the rest, we are extremely similar. For instance, we have thousands of common words... I love Istanbul, I have already been there three times, and it feels like home every time I visit.

What did you think about the movie Wasted Youth by directors Argyris Papadimitropoulos and Jan Vogel? Wasted Youth tells two parallel stories of a teenager’s and a middle-aged man’s daily lives and how easy it is to waste one’s life. It is inspired by real-life incidents, and set in a city in crisis and about to explode. Filmed in Athens during the summer, it actually looks more like a documentary than a movie. All the characters are common Greek people who are nowadays confused, exhausted and angry. I loved the slogan of the movie: Athens is hot. Boiling hot. I come from Athens, and if you watch that movie you can feel the crisis and the anxiety of that society.

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