Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Sarajevo Film Festival Best Drama Series ‘The Family’ Sells to North America (EXCLUSIVE)

Serbian drama “The Family,” which swept the newly launched Heart of Sarajevo TV Awards at the Sarajevo Film Festival on Monday, has sold to North America, Variety can reveal.

Directed by Bojan Vuletić (“Requiem for Mrs. J”) and produced by Firefly Productions, the show will launch this fall on the OTT service MHz Choice, where it will join the streamer’s roster of top-flight European titles, including the Italian hit “Inspector Montalbano” and the Movistar Plus original series “Arde Madrid.”

“The Family” is a five-part miniseries which tells the inside story of the three days leading up to the arrest of the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević. At Monday’s award ceremony in Sarajevo, it won best drama series, best series creator for Vuletić, and best actor for leading man Boris Isaković.

Vuletić, whose acerbic portrait of a suicidal widow, “Requiem for Mrs. J,” earned critical praise following its world premiere in the Berlin Film Festival’s Panorama strand in 2017, said the first Heart of Sarajevo TV Award was not an “ordinary prize” for him.

“It’s a prize that, in a way, proves that everything we did we did in a proper way, because it’s a very tricky subject,” he told Variety. “And we really tried to make something very honest and very clear about everything Slobodan Milošević represents in Serbian society and in the region.”

Firefly’s Boban Jevtic said the inaugural awards, which were bestowed by a jury comprised of several hundred film and television professionals across the region, offered a huge vote of confidence in what the three-year-old production company has achieved.

“[Until now], we didn’t have any award at the regional level for TV series,” he said. “So it’s a big boost to be recognized by the media, by [our colleagues], and by all the people who are interested in TV series. This prize will help us to continue to promote our other projects.”

Founded in 2018 by Ivana Mikovic, former COO of public broadcaster Radio Television of Serbia, and Jevtic, the former head of Film Center Serbia, Firefly has quickly grown into one of the leading TV production outfits in the former Yugoslavia. The company has a dozen series currently in different stages of development and production, comprising a range of genres – including comedy, horror and sci-fi – and based on both original stories and book adaptations.

Among them are “Frust,” a high-end comedy-drama series produced with Hungary’s Joyrider and directed by Oscar-winning Bosnian helmer Danis Tanović (“No Man’s Land”), and “Tremor,” an eight-part drama series directed by Vuletić and based on the true story of a Serbian actor who was imprisoned for killing two men, and whose prison journal would go on to become a best-seller across the Balkan region.

The company is also developing several English-language projects, as well as what Jevtic says is likely to be the most expensive Serbian TV series ever produced.

Equally ambitious is a new studio complex being built on the outskirts of Belgrade, where Firefly will both produce its own series and host some of the growing number of foreign productions shooting in Serbia, which offers a 25% rebate for productions under €5 million ($5.86 million) and a 30% tax rebate on productions with budgets of more than €5 million. Located 25 minutes from central Belgrade, the facility will comprise three soundstages, workshops, production offices and an adjoining backlot.

Firefly led the way at the first Heart of Sarajevo TV Awards with three of the seven nominees for best drama series and 13 nominations overall. On Tuesday, the company’s latest show, “Black Wedding,” a supernatural drama about a government agent investigating a killing spree and its links to ancient folklore, bows in the Sarajevo Film Festival’s Avant Premiere section showcasing top-flight Balkan TV series.

The Sarajevo Film Festival runs Aug. 13-20.



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