BELGRADE – This year’s International Film Festival FEST, the first competitive edition of the festival, officially opened in Belgrade’s Sava Centre.

Photo: Tanjug/Sava Radovanović
Photo: Tanjug/Sava Radovanović

The 43rd FEST will be held under the slogan ‘Here we are – in the constellation of winners’. The line-up will include 124 works of cinematic art – including 90 premieres – which will be shown by March 8 in a total of 242 screenings.

The festival was opened late on Friday by Belgrade Mayor Sinisa Mali.

“For 42 years now, FEST has been spreading a special, magical atmosphere in the city. Illuminated by the magic, Belgrade seems more beautiful and more festive than usually, proud of its important role in the world of film art,” Mali said.

He recalled that in the past few decades, Belgrade was a host of many famous figures from the film world, including directors, actors, scriptwriters and producers.

“All our guests took wonderful impressions of Belgrade back home, and FEST was and is our ID and our recognizable brand on the map of cultural events in Europe and the rest of the world,” the mayor underscored.

During the ceremony, newly-established awards Beogradski Pobednik or, in the international version, ‘Victor’, based on the statue by (renowned Yugoslav sculptor) Ivan Mestrovic, were delivered to famous Serbian actress Milena Dravic and prominent Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov for their exceptional contribution to the world of film art.

The official opening led by actors Hristina Popovic and Milos Timotijevic featured a performance by Viva Vox choir and a screening of archive videos depicting FEST beginnings and golden era.

Bertrand Bonello’s ‘Saint Laurent’ was the first film displayed within this year’s main programme outside the competitive category.

The diverse FEST programme will include winners of Academy Awards and prizes at foreign festivals, controversial films and genre titles from around the world, as well as prominent titles from the Serbian cinematography.

According to the new concept, FEST was transformed from a film revue into a competitive festival with three competition programs: the main competition of international character (15 films), the Serbian line-up, which will feature the best works of cinematic art created in the country last year (12 films) and ‘Granice’ (Limits) (12 films).

An international jury will decide on the winners of the festival awards.