23  06  2008


Split makes splash on Mediterranean

The first Split Festival of Mediterranean Film (SFMF) ended on Saturday, May 31, with another win for Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. A special mention went to The Yellow House by Amor Hakkar (Algeria/France), while in the short film competition Juanjo Gimenez’s Nitbus (Spain) took the award.

The jury consisted of Nina Pece, director of the Izola Film Festival Cinema Island in Slovenia; Natasha Senjanovic, English news editor of; and Oliver Sertic, a programmer of the Vukovar International Film Festival in Croatia. Other strong contenders for the prize were Fatih Akin’s The Edge of Heaven, Abdellatif Kechiche's The Secret of the Grain and Nadine Labaki's Caramel.

SFMF’s first edition proved enormously successful, with audiences of all ages filling up every screening in the two venues – the open-air cinema Bacvice and an indoor theatre in the city center. The fact that Bacvice’s previous admissions record of 250 viewers for a Harry Potter film was beaten on the opening night by approximately 700 spectators says plenty about the need that Split residents have for this kind of festival.

The films from the Mediterranean retrospective program – which ranged from cult director Jean Vigo's 1930 film Apropos Nice to Isaac Julian's White Mask, Black Face (1996) – were also attractive to local audiences.

Supported by the City of Split, and sponsored by DHL, among others, the festival had a budget of only €25,000. “With such a small budget we had to make a lot of hard choices, such as would we opt to bring more guests or better films,” says festival director Alen Munitic. “We chose the latter, which proved to be the right decision.”