Press Release

United Nations and Sarajevo Film Festival: An Unbreakable Union of Film and Culture

10 August 2023

The Sarajevo Film Festival and the United Nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina have formed a historic alliance, with the silver screen serving as their common medium. Sarajevo's strong dedication to leveraging cinema's potential as a catalyst for cultural, economic, and societal growth led to the city becoming a UNESCO Creative City of Film in 2019.

This dynamic partnership celebrates the tapestry of diversity and resilience while confronting global challenges such as climate change, migration, and human rights violations. "From the corridors of culture to the heartbeats of film, Sarajevo's alliance with the UN is a crescendo of transformation, empowers emerging filmmakers and activists, and ignites their purpose to be at the forefront of revolutionary change and sustainable progress," says Jovan Marjanović, the Festival’s Director.

In partnership with the “Green Club” representatives of parliaments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNDP is contributing to the Sarajevo Film Festival’s “Greening the Sarajevo Film Festival” commitment to make the festival net carbon-neutral and pioneering Green Pavilion. A media campaign will promote sustainable practices and an online competition will recognize short films promoting climate solutions, renewable energies, and urban mobility, with the top five entries receiving awards during the festival.

UNHCR will sponsor a thought-provoking session titled "Mixed Migrations - Differences between Refugees and Migrants," with interactive experience bringing together 25 European Youth Ambassadors to promote the subtle potential of cinematic vocabulary to create empathy, one reel at a time. This event will build an assembly of youth supporters of human dignity as a salute to the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which will also be celebrated at the festival with the online appearance of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights, Volker Turk. 

Under the aegis of the United Nations Secretary-General's Peacebuilding Fund, within the initiative “Youth4inclusion, equality and trust”, the United Nations, in alliance with UNESCO, supports the prestigious Best Director award for the Sarajevo Film Festival. A platform to champion creativity, diversity, and storytelling prowess, this award highlights cinema's potential to instigate change, and write the script for a more harmonious tomorrow. “Sarajevo is home to one of the most prominent film festivals in Europe – devoted to originality, quality and continuing growth, the Festival pictures an important contemporary chapter of a centuries-old city. It boldly tackles challenging social topics, opens dialogue and highlights the acceptance of diversity as a norm. As a long-term partner and a friend of the Festival, we wish to invite all citizens of BiH to join in person or via digital platforms, in the celebration of creativity and enjoy a good film,” says Siniša Šešum, Head of UNESCO Antenna Office in Bosnia and Herzegovina

"The Best Director Award shines as a beacon of creativity, an ode to the power of storytelling in shaping a world painted with the hues of understanding and unity. It is central to a partnership that the UN in Bosnia and Herzegovina is proud to support! The festival attracts over 100,000 visitors and contributes to economic activities worth over 40 million euros during its duration. I applaud the festival’s ambitious commitment to be net carbon-neutral which is a fantastic example of green transition in action," says Dr. Ingrid Macdonald the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UN entities involved in this initiative

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Goals we are supporting through this initiative