Ivan Karl, Secretary for Culture of the City of Belgrade and President of the FEST Board, Damir Handanović, Director of CEBEF and Vice President of the Festival Board, Jugoslav Pantelić, Artistic Director of FEST, and Darja Bajić, Producer of the Festival spoke at the final press conference of the 49th International Film Festival - FEST, held on Sunday, May 16 in the Kombank Hall.
Ivan Karl, Secretary for Culture of the City of Belgrade, said about the 49th edition of the Festival: ‘This FEST is a good team and demonstration exercise, how a film festival can be organized in a conventional way in the time of coronavirus pandemic. With screenings in the cinema, with guests, with a basic festival atmosphere. This year's FEST was the only festival in this part of Europe and the world that really looks like a film festival. It is important that the return of the audience to the cinema continues after FEST, because there is no festival without the cinema,’ Karl also announced a big jubilee next year: ‘I hope that we will work in even more relaxed conditions at the 50th FEST. That festival will really be a test of the generation, for all of us who make up the Festival team.’
Damir Handanović, Director of CEBEF, said at the press conference: ’I would like to thank everyone: guests, the jury, journalists and, above all, the audience, who supported us with their presence at film screenings this year as well. I thank Mr Jugoslav Pantelić, who has returned more than 70 films, both domestic and European and world cinema, to our cinemas, and I especially emphasize the importance of our PostFESTum programme, which takes place from May 17 to 23 at the Belgrade Youth Centre and the Cineplexx Usce Shopping Centre. Finally, I wish to thank the employees of CEBEF for their cooperation, the City of Belgrade and the Republic of Serbia for their responsible attitude towards citizens, since we are able to return to normal life, including cultural events, thanks to vaccination.’
Jugoslav Pantelić, Artistic Director of FEST, expressed his satisfaction with this year's festival edition: ‘We managed to bring the FEST to an end, with all the characteristics of a festival held in peacetime. Last year was bad for a lot of things, yet when it comes to film, it was good. I think the audience could recognize that in the programmes of this year's FEST. I thank all the people who, despite the situation in their countries, came here to be with us, which was not such a simple decision to make.’
Darja Bajić, Producer of the Festival, said on the occasion of the end of the 49th FEST: ‘I would first like to thank the Festival team, which was really dedicated and tireless, and as every year, gave its best. I am especially glad that we have many young colleagues in the Festival team, who we believe will continue to work for FEST in the coming years. Thank you to the audience for trusting us this year as well, and for helping us create the festival atmosphere for which FEST is famous.’
Predrag Azdejković, Director of the Merlinka Festival and President of the Merlinka Award Jury, drew special attention to the shortlist of the three best queer films in this year's FEST programmes: ‘I Carry You with Me’ directed by Heidi Ewing, ‘Supernova’ by Harry Macqueen, and ‘Poppy Field’ by Eugen Jebeleanu, who received the Merlinka Award. Ajzejković read the explanation for the award, which states that this is ‘an extremely precisely told story about a homosexual and his struggle for survival in a repressive society’, which is at the same time ‘a demystification of patriarchy machismo, but also a subtle and sharp comment on the position of a country of the Eastern Bloc in the European Union today.’ The Merlinka Jury consisted of Dragan Jovićević, Milan Arandjelović and Predrag Azdejković.
From May 17 to 23, 2021, the PostFESTum programme will be held, which will include screenings of 33 films from the regular Festival programme. Due to the specific circumstances in which FEST is held, the pandemic and reduced capacity of cinema halls, this year's most famous domestic film festival wants to meet the needs of its loyal audience, as well as all those who failed to see their favourite films during the last few days. PostFESTum will take place at the Belgrade Youth Centre and the Cineplexx Ušće Shopping Centre. You can see the complete schedule of the PostFESTum programme on the Festival website at the following link: https://www.fest.rs/upload/document/postfestum_-_dom_omladine_beograda_i_cineplexx_ue.pdf