The fourth edition of AJB DOC Film Festival opened on Friday evening in Sarajevo

The fourth edition of AJB DOC Film Festival opened on Friday evening in Sarajevo

SARAJEVO, September 12 (FENA) – The Fourth Al Jazeera Balkans International Documentary Film Festival (AJB DOC) opened on Friday evening with a special program and a screening of a film at the Kovači Multimedia Center.

The fourth edition of the International documentary film festival (AJB DOC), which will last until 14 September, opened with a screening of Catherine Harte’s film “Faith and Branko”.

The opening also marked the beginning of both online and theater hall screenings which take place at the Sarajevo Cineplexx.

The audience was briefly reminded of the success of the last year’s edition of AJB DOC, which was held completely online due to the pandemic. All films were available online on the ajb.doc platform which recorded over 120.000 viewers.

After this short trip down memory lane, it was time for Edhem Fočo, the director of AJB DOC Film Festival, to address the crowd.

He announced a mini-concert by Adnan Zilić, who accompanied by Ivana Đurić, Meho Radović, Edvin Hadžić, Adis Sirbubalo and Dino Šukalo, performed music from the film Džemo by Lejla Kajić and Davorin Sekulić, which opened last year’s edition of the Festival, as well as the music he composed for other films.

“Music is an integral and sometimes crucial part of a documentary. With music, you can express a wide range of emotions. It is what gives depth to films and makes them unique. This year, we decided to have a small concert as a part of the opening ceremony, in part because of the symbolism of the film which will open the Festival,” said Fočo.

After the concert, Ahmed Mahfouz, the director of Al Jazeera Documentary Channel, had the honor to officially open the Festival. He congratulated the organizers on the fourth edition, emphasizing that it was by no small endeavor in these circumstances.

“We are facing challenges from all sides – both those caused by the pandemic and others that are happening around the world – from political unrests to riots, terrorism, disease, polarization, etc. The film industry has carried the burden of those challenges. But it is what gave films new energy. I think this is just the beginning of a new renaissance of films in general, and documentaries in particular,” said Mahfouz.

“During the Festival, we will make a great announcement about the launch of the industry which will, I hope, be a milestone for the documentary filmmaking in the region,” he added.

Tarik Đođić, the director of Al Jazeera Balkans, said he was glad to see that the AJB DOC Festival was becoming a tradition associated with September.

“We have faced many challenges, especially in the pandemic. But we have used them as an opportunity to make the festival more accessible to people by allowing them to watch the films online, with one click and for free. I hope the fourth edition will bring us new success. We are preparing more beautiful surprises in the years to come,” said Tarik Đođić, director of Al Jazeera Balkans.

The opening ceremony was followed by the screening of the film Faith i Branko, an intimate documentary that follows a seven-year relationship between two musicians of different cultures. This was followed by a Q&A session with the British accordionist Faith Elliot and the Roma violinist Branko Ristić, the main protagonists of the film, who performed some of their music which made them popular around the world.

The second film which was screened on the opening night of the Festival was Radio Silence by Juliana Fanjul. This film opened the out-of-competition Last Minute Cinema selection. Radio Silence was screened in the Cineplexx cinema at 21:00 hrs, but it was also available for online viewing.

In the coming days, the audience of the AJB DOC Film Festival will have an opportunity to watch 21 documentaries of the highest quality. The novelty of this year’s edition of AJB DOC is the Smart Doc selection, which will present documentaries filmed with smartphones. All films in this selection were made by authors who participated in the last year’s training which was held as a part of the third AJB DOC.

In addition to screenings, a training in Smartphone documentary film production will be held under the guidance of a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Damir Šagolj, from 11 to 13 September. The training is organized in cooperation with the Al Jazeera Media Institute.

Furthermore, Al Jazeera’s reporter from Gaza, Safwat al-Kahlout, will hold a lecture for journalists on the topic of ‘Gaza: Past, Present and Future’. The lecture will be held on Sunday, 12 September, at 16:00 at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Sarajevo. The number of participants is limited due to pandemic restrictions. Prior notice of attendance will be required at with the subject Gaza – lecture.

AJB DOC Film Festival will present three awards. An international jury consisting of an award-winning film producer Jamel Dallali, writer, director and editor Una Gunjak and artistic director of DokuFest Veton Nurkollari will decide on the best film from the Competition Program, which will receive the AJB DOC Main Award.

All films from the Competition Program also compete for the AJB Program Award, awarded by the Al Jazeera Balkans Program Department Jury. All films screened at the AJB DOC festival will compete for the Audience Award.

This year’s edition of the AJB DOC Film Festival is held under the auspices of BH Telecom, and the training is organized in partnership with Samsung.