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South East European Artists Make History in Hollywood

We salute artists from Southeast Europe whose accomplishments this year are for the history books.

Maria Bakalova

Maria Bakalova makes history as the first-ever Bulgarian actress to be nominated for the Golden Globe award.

Maria Bakalova – She has just made history this Wednesday as the first-ever Bulgarian actress to be nominated for the Golden Globe award, for her breakout role in “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.” Eastern European actors have rarely if ever received recognition from U.S. entertainment industry power brokers and Bakalova’s nomination has now shattered that proverbial glass ceiling. This was followed by Screen Actors Guild nomination, making it highly likely that Bakalova might also get the nod from Oscar voters.

Blerta Basholli, director of “Hive” from Kosovo  – hers is the first film in Sundance history to win all three main awards, the Grand Jury Prize, the Audience Award and the Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, for the powerful women-centric film that resonates with women everywhere.

Alexander Nanau, Romania – His documentary powerhouse “Collective” received multiple awards and nominations, including nominations for Film Independent Spirit award and International Documentary Association’s (IDA) Best Feature Documentary award, while garnering over 60 other awards and noms worldwide. (Watch SEEfest conversation about Collective.)

Radu Ciorniciuc and Mircea Topoleanu, Romania – Their film, “Acasă, My Home“ has been nominated for the Cinema Eye Honors and IDA’s award for Best Cinematography, in addition to more than 30 other noms and awards worldwide.

Maja Novaković, Serbia – Her debut short doc “Then Comes the Evening” amassed more than 80 awards around the world, including a nomination for the Cinema Eye Honors award, to be held in March. (Watch SEEfest Conversation about the documentary.)

Dalibor Barić, Croatia – his avant-garde animated feature “Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus” has just qualified for consideration in the Academy’s animated feature film category, alongside the top industry heavyweights.

These are just a few most recent and most prominent examples of the creative potential of Southeast Europe.

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Make your voice heard and celebrate the quality and artistry of the new generation of filmmakers, writers, composers, illustrators, cinematographers – while honoring those who came before and paved the way for today’s breakout artists.

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The Academy Announces 87 Foreign Films Competing for Award

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 87 films from South-east Europe and around the world that will be competing this year for the Best Foreign Language Film award. Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on January 22, 2019. The ceremony will take place on February 24, 2019.

Below are this year’s submission from all the South-East European countries (and more!):

Belarus was the first country to announce its submission this year with Darya Zhuk’s drama Crystal Swan. Set in the 1990’s, a peripatetic young DJ is derailed by a typo in a forged US Visa application, forcing her to a backwater village where she is determined to fake her way to the American dream. This will mark the third Belarusian submission so far.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has selected the drama Never Leave Me directed by Aida Begić. This co-production with Turkey tells the story of three displaced Syrian boys living a difficult life as refugees in the magical, mythical Turkish city of Sanliurfa. Searching for recovery from a traumatic past, the children cross the path from destructiveness and hostility to meaningful existence and love. Bosnia won this category in 2001 with Danis Tanović’s No Man’s Land.

Bulgaria has chosen Ilian Djevelekov’s Omnipresent. The film’s protagonist is Emil, a writer and owner of an advertising agency who gradually becomes obsessed with spying on his family, friends and employees with hidden cameras. In October 2017, this feature triumphed at Bulgaria’s Golden Rose film festival, winning Best Film, Best Actor and Actress, as well as the Audience Award categories. In 2009, Stephan Komandarev’s The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Around the Corner made the shortlist but was not nominated.

Croatia will be represented by Ivan Salaj’s political comedy drama The Eighth Commissioner. It tells the story of an ambitious politician caught in a scandal and exiled to a remote island to keep him out of the public eye. There, he is tasked with organizing local elections – something his seven predecessors have failed to accomplish… Croatia has never been nominated in this category in the past.

Czech Republic has chosen Olmo Omerzu’s road-trip comedy Winter Flies. The story follows two mischievous adolescent boys who embark on a journey of misadventure and self-discovery. This film made its worldwide debut in July at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where it won the Best Director category. Czech Republic has been nominated three times for the foreign language category, and won in 1996 with Jan Svěrák’s Kolya.

Estonia has selected Take It or Leave It directed by Liina Triškina-Vanhatalo. The film tackles themes of responsibility, single parenthood, and economic inequality. It tells the story of a 30-year-old construction worker who suddenly becomes a single parent when his ex-girlfriend delivers a baby girl, and informs him that she’ll put the child up for adoption unless he wants to take care of her. This is the third time Estonia has chosen a movie from producer Ivo Felt, whose 2014 Tangerines directed by Zaza Urushadze received the country’s only nomination.

Georgia has chosen Namme directed by Zaza Khalvashi. This lyrical feature had its international premiere at the Tokyo Film Festival. It is the story of a family determined to protect an ancient and venerated water source at all costs. Set in an idyllic rural location where Muslims and Christians live peacefully side by side, the ancient healing qualities of the water are threatened by the construction of a hydroelectric power station, which is blamed for the loss of the spring waters. Giorgi Ovashvili’s Corn Island made the shortlist in 2014 but was not nominated.

Greece will compete with writer-director Dora Masklavanou’s period drama Polyxeni. Set in 1955, the film centers on an orphaned 12-year-old girl, who embarks on a new life following her adoption by a prominent couple, seemingly unaware of devious designs on her large inheritance. Greece has been nominated five times for this category, with its most recent nomination for Yorgos Lanthimos’s 2010 feature Dogtooth (which lost out to Denmark’s In a Better Worlddirected by Susanne Bier).

Hungary has selected Sunset directed by László Nemes, which won the International Federation of Film Critics award at the 75th Venice International Film Festival. Set in Budapest on the eve of World War I, the film follows a young woman who arrives from Trieste looking for work at the elegant hat store once owned by her parents. Rebuffed by the shop’s current owner, she is drawn into a mystery surrounding her long-lost brother. Nemes won the Oscar in this category for the Holocaust drama Son of Saul in 2016, marking Hungary’s second win after István Szabó’s Mephisto in 1982.

Kosovo has chosen Blerta Zeqiri’s debut feature The Marriage. The romantic drama focuses on the experience of a bride, unaware that the man she is about to marry is still in love with his best friend. It marks only the fifth year Kosovo has entered the race for an Academy Award, and the first time the country has submitted a film by a female filmmaker.

Macedonia has submitted Gjorce Stavreski’s Secret Ingredient for consideration. In this dramedy, an underpaid train mechanic gives his father a cake made of stolen marijuana to relieve his cancer pain. However, he is soon cornered by criminals searching for their drugs and the nosy neighbors who want a recipe for the mysterious “healing” cake. In 1995, Macedonia earned a nomination with Milcho Manchevski’s Before the Rain, but lost out to Russia’s Burnt by the Sun directed by Nikita Mikhalkov.

 Montenegro is sending Gojko Berkuljan’s Iskra. This thriller follows a retired detective whose life is interrupted when his daughter disappears, and his investigation leads him back to his past. It marks only the fifth time Montenegro has competed in this category, and has yet to secure a nomination.

Romania will be represented by Radu Jude’s I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians. The film won the Crystal Globe for best film at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Set in present-day Romania, the film centers on a stage director preparing to mount a monumental historical re-enactment of an episode from the Holocaust: the massacre of tens of thousands of Jews by Romanian troops in Odessa. The title refers to an actual quote from a Romanian government minister in 1941. The director battles against official unease about the allegedly unpatriotic nature of the play, the trivialization of horrific historical events, and a revival of nationalist fervor in the country. Romania made the shortlist in 2012 with Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills but was not nominated.

Serbia will compete with Dejan Zečević’s Offenders. This thriller centers on three university students, who set up experiments around the city to prove the “Tetris” theory of chaos. Under that theory, human nature inevitably deteriorates from order to anarchy… Srdan Golubović’s thriller The Trap made the shortlist in 2008 but was not nominated.

Slovakia has selected The Interpreter directed by Martin Šulík as its entry. It tells the story of an 80-year-old man who finds a book by a former SS officer detailing his activities in Slovakia during World War II. Realizing that his parents were executed by the officer, he sets out to get his revenge but instead meets the officer’s 70-year-old son (Toni Erdmann star Peter Simonischek), who hardly knew his father. With the officer’s son acting as interpreter, the two men embark on a journey of discovery of the past and their own identity. Slovakia has not been previously nominated.

Slovenia has chosen Ivan, directed by Janez Burger (Silent Sonata). The film focuses on Mara, a young woman caught in a violent corruption affair and forced to make an impossible choice between the man she obsessively loves and her newborn son, Ivan. In September 2017, the film swept the Slovenian Film Festival, taking eight prizes, including Best Film, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Actress.

Slovenia has not been previously nominated.

Turkey’s contender will be Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s The Wild Pear Tree. This feature, which premiered in competition in May at Cannes, is Turkey’s fifth submission directed by Ceylan. The film tells the story of an aspiring writer who returns to his native village, where he pours his heart and soul into scraping together the money he needs to be published, only for his father’s debts to catch up with him. Ceylan’s Three Monkeys made the shortlist in 2008 but was not nominated.


Georges Aintablian is a Los Angeles based international film critic. He has been following Academy submissions for the last 20 years, and has a special interest in French films, Latin American Cinema (especially Mexico and Brazil), Middle Eastern films, and Asian Cinema (especially South Korea, China, and Japan). Georges speaks 8 languages, and writes about World Cinema and major film festivals in L.A. on his blog Cinémaniaque Films.

See his profile on Letterboxd.

Meet Festival Programmers June 3rd, Columbia College Hollywood

Our friends from the Valley Film Festival have organized a Panel with festival programmers on Saturday, 6/3. This event is FREE to attend. Tickets are available at FilmFreeway. Location: Columbia College Hollywood, 18618 Oxnard Street, Los Angeles, California 91356. Moderator: Ken Storer, Writer, Law and Order, Special Victims Unit. 

Dances with Films (@DancesWithFilms) June 1-11, 2017 @ TCL, Hollywood

DTLA Film Festival (@dtlaff) September 21-30, 2017 @ Regal Cinemas, Downtown LA

Hollywood Shorts (@hollywoodshorts) Monthly @ The Attic, Hollywood

LA Film Festival (@filmindependent) June 14-22, 2017 @ ArcLight Cinemas, Culver City

SEE Fest (@seefilmla) April 2018 @ Various Venues (West Hollywood & Beverly Hills)

The Valley Film Festival (@ValleyFilmFest) October 25-29, 2017 @ Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood 


5:00pm – Network with peers & colleagues over complimentary tea, coffee, and green drinks from our generous sponsors:

Pete’s Coffee in Tarzana – @PeetsCoffee

David’s Tea in Woodland Hills – @davidstea

Troy Casey in Los Angeles – @Mr.Healthnut

5:30pm – Panel Discussion on Programming + Screening of Selected Shorts

7:30pm – More networking over pizza, courtesy of The Valley Film Festival (@valleyfilmfest), and salad donated by Stonefire Grill (@stonefiregrill)


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The Academy released this week the plans for street closures leading to the Oscars® on Sunday, February 26 at the Dolby Theater. First to close on February 5 (21 days prior to the Oscar show) was Orchid Alley. Subsequent closures will gradually encircle the Hollywood & Highland Center to accommodate the construction of press risers, fan bleachers and pre-show stages along the Oscars red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard. Read more about maps, closures, and metro train schedule. 

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Oscars Governors Ball Menu 2017

If you’re wondering where the stars go after the show…they go to the Governors Ball held at the Ray Dolby Ballroom, on the top level of the Hollywood & Highland Center.

Per Academy’s press office, there the glitterati are treated to an Oscar-worthy menu by Wolfgang Puck catering that includes new items such s Moroccan spiced Wagyu short rib topped with a parmesan funnel cake; taro root tacos with shrimp, mango, avocado and chipotle aioli; gnocchetti with braised mushrooms and cashew cream; lobster corn dogs; made-to-order sushi, custom poke bowls and an array of shellfish; plus a selection of Puck’s signature dishes such as smoked salmon Oscars, chicken pot pie with shaved black truffles, and baked macaroni and cheese. The evening ends with the pièce de résistance: Puck’s 24-karat-gold chocolate Oscars.

Staff of 900 is hired for the event.


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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About How the Academy’s Foreign Language Award Works

Legendary cinematographer John Bailey (American Gigolo, Ordinary People, Groundhog Day, As Good as it Gets, Mishima: Life in Four Chapters) who has twice honored us at SEEfest to serve on our jury for Best Cinematography,
gives a detailed account about the selection process for the foreign language Oscar® candidates.

In his popular John’s Bailiwick blog on the ASC site he writes about the stages in the selection process, followed by a list of some of the movies from previous years including, we’re happy to say, one from our own SEE director, Oscar®-winner Danis Tanovic (Bosnia Herzegovina) whose An Episode in the Life of an Iron icker was shortlisted a couple of years ago. Tanovic previously won the Oscar® in 2002 for No Man’s Land.

Read more here.




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SEEfest Launches Project Accelerator in April-May 2016

Vera Mijojlic | March 13, 2016, 9:27 PM


Filmmakers To Present Projects to Hollywood Insiders

SEEfest’s 11th edition, April 28 – May 5, will see the launch of an exciting opportunity. International and independent filmmakers with projects in advanced stages of development will have a unique chance to present their projects in front of a panel of judges of Hollywood industry professionals. This jury will subsequently choose a winner for the inaugural “Impact Award.” Accelerator platform was created with a goal to help connect internationally viable projects with Hollywood professionals and to provide guidance for the next stages of development.”

This program connects South East European and independent filmmakers with Hollywood industry people: screenwriters, producers, film financing executives, entertainment attorneys and other successful industry professionals. Vera Mijojlic, founder and director of SEEFest, and Hans-Martin-Liebing who co-founded with her the international project accelerator have launched this initiative to address the lack of opportunity for many filmmakers to pitch their projects to Hollywood insiders and to receive valuable advice on the best ways to make their films commercially viable, accessible to a wider audience and attractive to buyers.

This truly aligns with SEEfest’s mission to bring stories from South East Europe to an international audience. “In order to bring to light the stories that are not usually heard in the media, it is imperative to connect independent and foreign filmmakers with experienced Hollywood professionals who can help steer the projects in the right direction,” says Vera Mijojlic. “Ultimately, the purpose of the accelerator goes hand in hand with our long-term goal to bridge the gap between countries on opposite sides of the world through filmmaking.”





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