The omnibus feature film The Bridges Of Sarajevo, consisting of 13 short films by 13 European directors, will have its world premiere as a Cannes Special Screening on Thursday.

The project was initiated by the First World War Centenary Mission and intended as a central part of the Sarajevo Heart of Europe, a multidisciplinary festival that will take place from June 21 to 28 in the city where Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and triggered the war. The film will be screened on June 27, a day before the exact centenary of the assasination.

The project also represents a transformation of the Sarajevo Film Festival’s Sarajevo City of Film from a Talent Campus production of short films into afund which will focus on production of feature films. More about this will be revealed at the SFF (Aug 15-23), which will also screen the film.  

 Such a complex and significant project required a unifying factor, and the producers approached the French film critic, curator and lecturer Jean-Michel Frodon to select the directors andcoordinate the creative part of making the film.

“I wanted the film to translate very different personalities, from Portugal toUkraine.I also wanted to have a significant number of women among them, and different generations and people who have different kinds of relation with Sarajevo,” says Frodon.

These range from Sarajevo-born and raised Aida Begic, to Balkan directors such as Vladimir Perisic, Kamen Kalev and Cristi Puiu, who are very familiar with the city, to film-makers who have never before been there, like Vincenzo Marra, Ursula Meier and Isild Le Besco, and finally Jean Luc Godard who has had a strong connection with the city since the 1992-1995 siege, and whose Our Music was predominantly shot in Sarajevo .

Out of the 13 films in the omnibus, five were not shot in the city- those by Godard, Kalev, Perisic, Marra and Leonardo di Costanzo- while Marc Recha’s was 75% filmed in Sarajevo and 25% in Catalonia.

“It was a challenge to find the right balance between unity and diversity. I amhappy that this film speaks ten different languages, but at the same time there is a need to connect them, which is a very European issue,” says Frodon.

“I was interested in what Sarajevo can represent in the spirit of imagination of contemporary Europeans, as well as depicting some aspect of reality of Sarajevo today. Besides the real city, there is also a kind of an imagined Sarajevo. I wanted all these aspects to be present in the film, as well as the memory of WWI. It was an explosion of Europe which replayed itself in a very specific way in 1992-95.”

The individual films are connected by animation sequences relating to an imaginary bridge in Sarajevo, designed by Belgian comic book artist FrançoisSchuiten and animated by multi-awarded Portuguese animator Luís da Matta Almeida. 

“There is also a more mental network of connections – what you see in one of the films seems to be completed or repeated in others,” Frodon explains. “The directors were not co-coordinating between themselves, but each of them looked at Sarajevo anddreamed of Sarajevo and ultimately some of their ideas echoed each other.”

The Bridges Of Sarajevo will be released in France through Rezo on July 2, and Indie Sales has international rights.