EXCLUSIVE: Jean-Luc Godard and Ursula Meier are among 14 directors set to participate in an omnibus film that will mark next year’s centenary of the First World War.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily in Locarno, Meier - who has become known to international festival and cinema audiences through her last two features Home and Sister - confirmed that she and 83-year-old Godard will be making short films for the omnibus project Les Ponts de Sarajevo.

The omnibus will be coordinated by Paris-based production house Cinétévé.

The film will be part of a week-long event from June 21-28, 2014, titled “Sarajevo: Coeur de L’Europe”, organised in collaboration with the City of Sarajevo, the Sarajevo Film Festival, Jazzfest Sarajevo, Centre André Malraux, Goethe-Institut and the British Council.

“Most of the contributions will be documentary or essay-type films, but I am one of a couple of film-makers who will be making a fiction film,” Meier explained.

She adding that Portugal’s Pedro Costa and Bosnia’s Aida Begic are among the other directors invited to participate in the omnibus project.

Meier, who has a special affection for the city of Sarajevo and saw her 2008 film Home released in Bosnia-Herzegovina, will be shooting her film with Bosnian actors in Sarajevo in two weeks’ time at the end of the Sarajevo Film Festival. The festival is also serving as a co-producer of the omnibus.

The project also sees Godard returning to the subject of Sarajevo 20 years after his two-minute short film Je Vous Salue, Sarajevo from 1993, which was in the form of a photo-montage with accompanying text and a score by Arvo Pärt. 

Financial backing of $180,000 (170,000CHF) for Godard and Meier’s contributions was awarded by Switzerland’s Federal Office for Culture (BAK) to the Lausanne-based Bande à part Films, which was founded in 2009 by Meier with fellow directors Frédéric Mermoud, Lionel Baier and Jean-Stéphane Bron.

Bande à part hat-trick at Locarno

This year’s Locarno Film Festival has presented three new productions by the “Swiss answer to United Artists”.

There were the world premieres on the Piazza Grande of Baier’s Longwave (Les Grande Ondes (à l’Ouest)) and Bron’s documentary portrait The Blocher Experience (L’Experience Blocher).

The latter film had been hotly anticipated, given the controversial nature of the right-wing populist politician Christoph Blocher, and Tuesday evening’s screening was preceded by a heightened security presence with increased patrols of police and the blocking off of one of the entrances to the Piazza Grande during the day.

In an adept piece of stage management by artistic director Carlo Chatrian, Bron’s film was screened after the Raimondo Rezzonico Award was presented to veteran French producer Margaret Ménégoz whose Les Films du Losange is handling the international sales and French theatrical distribution for The Blocher Experience (Ménégoz has also handled Bron’s previous feature documentary Cleveland vs Wall Street which premiered in Directors’ Fortnight in 2010 in Cannes).

In addition, Bande à part celebrated the world premiere of Blaise Harrison’s 60-minute feature documentary debut L’Harmonie, co-produced with France’s Les Films du Poisson, in the Film-makers of the Present sidebar on August 9. Doc & Film International is handling international sales.

Prizes for Amka and ventura

Tonight [Aug 14], the screening of Sebastián Lelio’s Berlinale hit Gloria will be preceded by the presentation of the Premio Cinema Ticino to two local production companies - Amka Films Productions and ventura film .

Tiziana Soudani’s Amka Films is known for producing such films as Silvio Soldini’s Pane e Tulpani, Mohammed Soudani’s Guerre sans images, and Leonardo di Costanzo’s L’Intervallo,.

Andres Pfaeffli and Elda Guidinetti’s ventura film has focused on projects exploring and crossing new boundaries such as Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte, Jennifer Fox’s My Reincarnation and Philip Gröning’s The Policeman’s Wife (Die Frau des Polizisten), which will have its world premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival.