John Michael McDonagh’s The Guard is at the centre of a storm that erupted at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Its international programmer Howard Feinstein has resigned over what he saw as a shift of its director Miro Purivatra and its creative director, his wife, Izeta Gradevic towards celebrating celebrity culture over filmmakers and cinema.
The evidence cited by Feinstein included his Q&A with Oscar winning director Susanne Bier taking place without a single photographer present as Angelina Jolie was receiving a ‘Heart of Sarajevo’ award at the same time, and also his fight to include The Guard in the festival’s Panorama section.
In an open letter written by Feinstein and published by indiewire.com he explains more about The Guard’s role in his creative differences with his employers. Purivatra and Gradevic wanted both Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle to attend the festival but when only director John Michael McDonagh could make it Feinstein states that ‘unbelievably, management wanted to keep him only for the Open Air screening, so he could blow kisses. I had to fight to have him do a Q & A with the Panorama audience. This is that murky area in which cult of (perceived) celebrity and the qualitative characteristics of selections overlapped in a negative way.’
In the days that followed Izeta Gradevic released a statement on behalf of the Sarajevo Film Festival also published in full on indiewire.com which did not refer to Feinstein’s open letter, but amazingly Feinstein’s airing of dirty linen didn’t stop there as he gets involved in a lengthy mud slinging match with a former employee of the festival in the comments section of the Gradevic statement.
To read Howard Feinstein’s open letter click here
To read Izeta Gradevic’s response click here