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A press conference was held in the Belgrade City Assembly on July 7 on the occasion of the 49th Sopot Film Festival.


Damir Handanović, Director of the Belgrade Festivals Centre (CEBEF), used the opportunity to greet the present media representatives. He expressed satisfaction that the return to normal life this time was reflected in the work at this great festival, and invited everyone present to come to its opening ceremony, which traditionally attracted the most attention of visitors. He especially drew attention to the remarkable cooperation between the Sopot Cultural Centre and CEBEF, the executive producer of the Sopot Film Festival. Handanović pointed out that CEBEF, in addition to the current work at the Sopot Film Festival, dealt with the production of other types of events that were important for the City of Belgrade.


The artistic director of the Festival, Aleksandar Avramović, reminded at the beginning that, although the coronavirus had postponed the previous year’s edition of the Festival, the following year was the one intended for the celebration of beautiful memories and the art of filmmaking because then it would be 50 years since the first ‘film festivities of freedom’ had been held.


‘That is why we are proud that the Statuette of Freedom award lasts as a recognition for free artistic thought and that it is a long-lasting feature of the best in our filmmaking. These days, our statuette has grown into a statue, a forever visible sculpture, at the most important location in Sopot, in front of the cinema hall of the Cultural Centre.’ He mentioned that the upcoming film festival in Sopot was more than a representative sample of a two-year production and artistic achievements of Serbian film.


Aleksandar Avramović pointed out that with the film ‘Despite the Fog’ (Nonostante la nebbia) the tribute would be paid to the great Serbian, Yugoslav and European filmmaker, Goran Paskaljević, who had left us forever. On behalf of the Festival, he expressed immense gratitude and respect to dozens of film artists and workers, who had passed away in the previous two years. All of them had contributed to the duration and achievements of the Festival thanks to their famous films and great knowledge.


With special reverence, Aleksandar Avramović announced the lifetime achievement awards of the 49th Sopot Film Festival. Posthumously, this award would go to Vera Baronijan, one of the most prominent film and television editors.


‘The audience in Sopot will have the opportunity to greet the great lady of Serbian and Yugoslav film, theatre and television, the unattainable artist Mira Banjac. She will have the right to experience the Statuette of Freedom award as gratitude for her youthful courage, when, with a rifle in her hand, she participated in the heroic struggles for the liberation of Yugoslavia from fascism. And she won, as she did in the art of acting in the decades that followed, to this day. In her honor, the Sopot Cultural Centre Gallery will host an exhibition of the Theatre Museum of Vojvodina, FACES OF MIRA BANJAC, and we will have an appropriate professional gathering discussing her great work.’
He announced the opening ceremony at which the Art Ensemble of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Serbia ‘Stanislav Binički’ would perform, which would be joined by the always welcome folklore group KUD ‘Kosmaj’ from Sopot. A traditional fireworks show would light up the sky to end the magnificent evening of music and dance.


Additionally, Avramović drew attention to the fact that for the citizens of Belgrade, who could not come to Sopot, the best films of that year's festival would be shown in the SOFEST PLUS programme at the Youth Centre in Belgrade, on Monday, July 19. Admission was free, as for all screenings in Sopot. Avramović also mentioned that the directors and collaborators of six student short feature films would contribute to the overall richness of that year's festival programme. Film was the art for all generations, therefore even in that festival edition, there would be a programme for children consisting of four titles. The artistic director of the Festival pointed out that the audience in Sopot would have the opportunity to see 36 films, and added that in Sopot, the festival days were a time of celebration and good mood, both for the hosts and the guests. He mentioned the names of the members of the festival jury, namely Slobodan Skerlić, the director; Milan Nikodijević, producer and Jovan Marković, screenwriter.


Suzana Anastasov Marković, Director of the Sopot Cultural Centre, greeted those present on behalf of the host of the Cultural Centre, and welcomed the media. She pointed out that the Sopot Film Festival was one of the largest cultural events in the Municipality of Sopot, where arrivals and vacations were organized because of it, and that its beginning was awaited with eager anticipation.


Živorad Milosavljević, President of the Municipality of Sopot and President of the Festival Board, reminded that the City of Belgrade had included the Sopot Festival in important events of interest to the city and thus had raised to a higher level what was being worked on in Sopot for years. ‘CEBEF covers jobs that we could practically not do alone, and the City of Belgrade, by taking care of this event, contributes to the common goal of spreading and decentralizing cultural events. As a result, the audience comes to the Festival from the surrounding municipalities of Šumadija, and thanks to this festival, many filmmakers become residents of Sopot, which encourages the cultural and economic development of the Municipality,’ said Milosavljević.