11 documentaries to compete in Bosnian fest starting this weekend

World premiere of 6 documentaries to take place during 5-day Al Jazeera Balkans Documentary Film Festival in Sarajevo

Mustafa Talha Öztürk   | 09.09.2021
11 documentaries to compete in Bosnian fest starting this weekend


Eleven documentary films will compete in the 4th Al Jazeera Balkans Documentary Film Festival held in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which kicks off on Friday.

The five-day festival, with Anadolu Agency as its global communications partner, boasts a world-class slate of documentaries from around the globe.

The festival features a total of 23 documentaries, including the world premieres of six documentaries, regional premieres of eight documentaries, and special screenings of three.

Event director Edhem Foco told Anadolu Agency that this year's festival is being organized under the slogan of "Challenge."

"The difficulties we have been facing lately have drawn us so deeply that we can now see only ourselves and the difficulties we face,” he said.

“With this slogan, we wanted to show that the difficulties we sometimes exaggerate have a different dimension and to look at serious difficulties from the perspective of others.”

Foco said this year’s festival includes films from India, Afghanistan, Kenya, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This year the festival will take place both online ( and in movie theaters.

Telling how Al Jazeera Balkans is the most important documentary producer of the region, Foco said the winning productions in the first and second editions of the festival ended up being nominated for Oscars.

Public interest in documentary films has risen thanks to the festival, he said.

"This year's festival will feature productions from Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose which films will be screened because each film has its own characteristics and an audience it appeals to," said Foco.

Afghan documentary 20 years in the making

This year the festival boasts a timely film, a documentary from Afghanistan which was shot over the course of two decades, or as long as the US and NATO presence which ended just this summer in chaotic scenes broadcast worldwide.

"Imagine you shoot a movie for 20 years, it seems like an impossible situation in feature films,” explained Foca.

“But this is the feature of this production, the director is shooting a small pure and innocent boy, you can see the transformation that takes place in a short time and you can be both amazed and sad. In this way, your sense of empathy becomes stronger.”

3 awards set to be given

Three awards will be presented at the festival. A five-member international jury will choose the best film from the competition program and present the AJB DOC Main Award. All films in the competition program also compete for the AJB Program Award, awarded by the Al Jazeera Balkans Program Department Jury. All films screened at the festival will also compete for the Audience Award.

The festival aims to encourage writers and documentaries dealing with social phenomena by focusing on universal human values, including documentary films adapted for television broadcasts.

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