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Cinema City Kicks Off in Novi Sad, Serbia

Last night the opening ceremony took place for the 4th annual Cinema City film festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. The festival introduced the members of its three main juries, who will award prizes to films from three of the festival’s sections: ‘National Class’ (Serbian films), ‘Exit Point’ (international auteur cinema, this year showcasing films about women) and ‘Up to 10,000 Bucks’ (low-budget, predominantly short films from around the world).

The highlight of the opening ceremony was the presentation of two of the festival’s signature Ibis awards to Polish director Dorota Kędzierzawska for Contribution to European Film and to prolific Serbian actor Bata Živojinović for lifetime achievement.

The ceremony was followed by a screening of the festival’s opening film, Kędzierzawska’s most recent feature, Tomorrow Will Be Better (Jutro będzie lepiej, 2010). The film is about three homeless Russian boys and their journey to escape across the border to Poland. Moving at a stately pace, this humorous and touching film shows a rare sensitivity to everyday detail and texture. This fits well with the children’s relationship to a world that is still relatively new to them, and which they explore primarily through touch. Although the young boys’ vulnerability can be wrenching at times for the audience, their youth also makes them resilient: they can switch from despair to laughter in the space of a few seconds. Kędzierzawska tells me that although it is not really for children, as a film about them it tends to be featured at children’s film festivals. At this year’s Berlinale, it won two special awards: the Deutsche Kinderhilfswerk Grand Prix for best feature film and the Peace Film Award.

Prominent jury members at Cinema City include European Film Market head Beki Probst, film critics Philippe Azoury and Sergey Lavrentiev, and Serbian director Vladimir Paskaljević, son of the renowned Goran whose work was the subject of a recent British Film Institute retrospective. The presidents of the National Class and Exit Point juries, respectively, are directors Sharunas Bartas from Lithuania and Kęziersawska, and the festival includes homages to both of their oeuvres.

I’ll be here at Cinema City all week as a member of the jury for FEDEORA (The Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean). My fellow jury members are Tonči Valentić and Blagoja Kunovski, and we will be awarding a prize to the best film chosen from two of the festival’s sections: National Class and ‘Balkan Box’ (contemporary cinema from the Balkans).

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