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With fireworks, fanfares and parades of film crews, the 49th Sopot Film Festival started tonight, and on that occasion, the Awards for Contribution to Film Art were presented to Mira Banjac and posthumously to Vera Baronijan. Actors, directors, producers were welcomed by the President of the Festival Board Živorad Milosavljević, the Artistic Director of the Festival Aleksandar Avramović, the Director of the Sopot Cultural Centre Suzana Anastasov Marković, as well as a large audience.


The Award for Contribution to Film Art was presented by Aleksandar Avramović, Artistic Director of the Festival, posthumously to Vera Baronijan, one of the most prominent film and television editors on whose behalf her daughter Marija received the award. She said she had witnessed how much Vera Baronijan had been overwhelmed with feelings and happiness when she had learned the year before that she should receive this award.


The legend of the Serbian theatre, Mira Banjac, was presented the Award for Contribution to Film Art by Živorad Milosavljević, President of the Festival Board.


Mira Banjac addressed the audience in a sentimental way, receiving the award: ‘When I am gone, everything I received is beautiful and will have its place, and most important of all is what will remain in you. What I did and what you remembered, that is a gift. Long live freedom!’


The Statue of Freedom, which is an adapted version of the Statuette of Freedom award and which was placed in Kosmajski trg – the work of the famous sculptor Miodrag Živković, was unveiled by Darko Kamarit, a member of the Festival Board.


The Art Ensemble of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Serbia ‘Stanislav Binički’ took the audience on a musical journey with the most famous melodies of film music, sharing the stage with the principal opera artist Dragoljub Bajić, who performed as a soloist.


The Sopot Film Festival was opened by the President of the Municipality of Sopot and the President of the Festival Board, Živorad Milosavljević. He cordially greeted those present and emphasized that Sopot now had a visible symbol of the decades-long film festivities under the Kosmaj Mountain.


‘The Statue of Freedom will no doubt be something our city will be recognizable by. Its symbolism is filled with hundreds of names of the greatest film artists and producers from Serbia and the former Yugoslavia, who are crowned here with the symbol of freedom and creativity,’ said Milosavljević.


Under the slogan ‘On the Eve of the Jubilee’, 23 films will be shown in the Competition Programme until July 17, and the awards will be decided by a jury consisting of Slobodan Skerlić, director; Milan Nikodijevic, producer, and Jovan Markovic, screenwriter.


An exhibition in honour of the doyen of the Serbian theatre Mira Banjac has been set up at the Sopot Cultural Centre, called ALL THE FACES OF MIRA BANJAC, whose work will be discussed at the panel on July 12. On that occasion, Mira Banjac stated that this exhibition did not represent her biography, but a biography of women where behind each one there was a destiny that had needed to be thought through and that the photograph was something that remained even after she was gone. She also said that the fact that she was surrounded with people and the audience was the only reason she was there as well.


The first film on the programme of the Sopot Film Festival is ‘Father’ by Srdan Golubović, which the audience had the opportunity to see after the opening, and the Festival will close on July 17 with Darko Bajić's film ‘The Name of the People’.