The Sarajevo Film Festival has abandoned plans to host a physical event and will pivot all activity online, following a second spike in Covid-19 cases throughout the region.
The festival said: “Due to greatly increased concern regarding the epidemiological situation in Sarajevo, and record cases of Covid-19 infection in the city in the past several days, we at the Sarajevo Film Festival have made the decision to conduct the 2020 edition of all festival events entirely online from August 14-21.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina has seen case numbers rise four times since mid-June to close to 12,500 and the number of deaths has doubled to 340 over the same period. Sarajevo itself has reported almost a fifth of those cases, after not reporting any in May and early June.
The world premiere of Focus, Grandma, the most recent film by Bosnian director Pjer Žalica, will still open the festival and will be available to view at ondemand.sff.ba – the festival’s VoD platform.
Ondemand.sff.ba is open to audiences worldwide and will allow users to subscribe to the entire festival programme for seven days, or select individual titles and content. It was developed with Festival Scope and Shift72 Streaming Services.
As previously announced, CineLink Industry Days will be held entirely online from August 15-20.
The festival had already announced much of its programme including its competition lineup, to be presided over by French writer-direct Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist). Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco was set to receive its honorary Heart of Sarajevo award.
Sarajevo Film Festival usually draws up to 100,000 visitors and last year screened films including Parasite and Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood, while around 1,300 industry delegates attend its professional platform.
It follows the cancellation of the Motovun Film Festival and postponement of the Pula Film Festival in neighbouring Croatia. The Transilvania International Film Festival (TIFF), held in the Romanian city of Cluj, is ongoing with safety measures in place. It launched on July 31 and will run until August 9, having previously postponed its 2020 edition from May 29-June 7.