The opening ceremony held at the National Theatre on Friday night marked the beginning of the 17th Sarajevo Film Festival. In the following nine days i e from 22 July to 30th July, 220 films from 44 countries will be screened at the festival, placing the emphasis on authors from the region who will compete for the Heart of Sarajevo award in three programs: feature, documentary and short film.

The first day of the festival opened with awarding of Jafar Panahi, the jailed Iranian film director whose directorial debut launched the first SFF 17 years ago in an act of defiance against the 1992-95 war. In his letter of gratitude for the award, which was read at the opening ceremony, he said : “Ten years ago I had the honor of being a guest at your festival. I have been awaiting the final verdict for the past six months and this status is worse than being in prison. When a filmmaker is banned from making films, life under any circumstances is equal to being in prison. I hope that I will again come to your festival, present my new film and personally thank all BiH directors and film professionals who did not hesitate to support me in the past 16 months.

Every year SFF hosts about 100,000 film fans, many from neighboring countries and hoteliers and tourism officials say that nearly all accommodation was booked up.

The most famous guests this year will be German film director Wim Wenders, British actress Charlotte Rampling and Hollywood star Michael Fassbender.

Here we have some of the pictures of the opening ceremony: