The story of the Balkanofilmophilia in today’s reality (cultural, political and historical) of the countries of Southeast Europe is an urgent necessity for us all. After the fall of the
Berlin Wall in 1989, and the turning of the great ideals in all countries from the region into a big nightmare, the onset of the bloody wars in former Yugoslavia that left thousands
dead and millions more displaced. Many Balkan, European, and world authors, from all domains, sought for solutions to restore the cultural bridges, and turn back the Balkans
into a field of civilization, instead of being captives of hatred and a desire for mutual extinction and liquidation.
The first initiative of this kind was the establishment of the Balkanika, literary prize, which is awarded for the best novel from all Balkan literatures, and after that, formation
of the NETA Theater Association, at the beginning of 2000, when the exchanges of plays at various festivals was renewed, thus marking the beginning of a new era of Europeanization of the Balkans in the field of culture.
Consequently, in 2003, the Festival Actor Europe was born on the shores of Lake Prespa, which the European Parliament declared as a Transboundary European park. Starting with the legendary Yugoslav and Serbian actor Ljuba Tadic, who was proclaimed Actor of Europe in 2003, a plethora of Balkan and European actors conveyed the message of peace and
understanding, such as: Rade Šerbedzija, Anastas Pop Dimitrov, Joana Popovska, Dimitri Orgotska, but also big names from Paris – Marcel Bozzone, London – Bruce Meyers, from
Bucharest – Ion Caramitru, all the way to winner of this year’s award, legendary Portuguese actress Maria do Ceu Guerra from Lisbon.
The most significant event in the field of Balkan cinematography is the establishment of the
SEE a Paris Film Festival in 2011, and four years later, SEE a Berlin Film Festival, which act as a windows to the new film achievements from all Balkan countries, each spring at the two centers of European culture. The most important Parisian newspapers such as
Le Monde and Telerama, wrote that these festivals are true creators of the Culture of Peace among the Balkan peoples, and justify the definition of the great Swiss writer Nicolas Bouvier who wrote: “The Balkans is THE HEART OF EUROPE”.
The Southeast European Festival in Paris was launched by several Balkan cultural dreamers, as well as some French legendary figures, such as Claude Lelouche, Charles Aznavour, Yves Boisset, starting a marvelous Balkan cultural adventure, from the Parisian cinema L’Entrepot, and the 14th Arrondissement of Paris. It was similar to the wish of Jean
Monnet, the father of the European Union, who wrote in his diary: “If Europe is to be re-created, we would have to start with culture! In our case, we can take the same wording – If the Balkans is to be united as a civilization field, it should be done under the motto: Only culture can pacify the Balkans! Since that year, about 150 feature films, 100 documentaries, 50 animated and over 300 short films from all countries of Southeast Europe have been screened.
The first issue in Paris was addressed by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in person, and for the first time in history, a Balkan event has been under high patronage of the
French Ministry of Culture. In addition, a considerable number of young filmmakers had their first experience with European audiences in Paris, and since 2014 in Berlin.
The Festival has been awarding Lifetime Achievement Awards since its first release:
Grand Prix SEE Actor, so far awarded to Miki Manojlovic (Serbia),
Meto Jovanovski (Macedonia), Milena Zupancic (Slovenia), Emir Hadzihafisbegovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Bane Popovic (Montenegro),
Cvetana Maneva (Bulgaria) . . .
Also a major event at the festival is the presentation of the legendary directors from South East Europe, with the Lifetime Achievement Award – SEE Legend, which is being presented both in Paris and in Berlin. So far, Veljko Bulajic, Dusan Makavejev, Lucian Pintile have been awarded this award, and this year, the award went to Serbian director Boro Draskovic.
During the festivals days, Professor Boro Draskovic proposed an extraordinary idea: Award-winning films from festivals in Paris and Berlin to be screened in several cities in Southeast Europe that same year! This marked the birth of a new festival in the Balkans under the name BALKANOFILMOPHILIA !!! The first city to start that tradition is Novi Sad, in December 2019, as Boro Draskovic is one of the founders of the Novi Sad Academy of Arts,
and will continue through several cities in Southeast Europe: Belgrade, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Skopje, Sofia, Tirana. . .
This will produce an idea – Uniting the Balkans through Europeanization, but based on cultural identities that will mark this turbulent time of ours, in the hope that beauty and
art, even in the Balkans, will save the world!
(This activity is organized with the
collaboration of Academia Balkanica