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The 30th Sarajevo Film Festival: Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award and „Tribute to“ Programme dedicated to Elia Suleiman

The acclaimed filmmaker will be presented with the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award and honoured with a retrospective of his selected works in the Festival’s “Tribute to” Programme

The 30th Sarajevo Film Festival will pay tribute to Palestinian director Elia Suleiman in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the art of film. The acclaimed filmmaker will be presented with the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award and honoured with a retrospective of his selected works in the Festival’s “Tribute to” Programme.

Suleiman was a guest at the 25th Sarajevo Film Festival (2019), where his film "It Must Be Heaven" was screened in the Open Air programme. The film had received the Special Jury Mention at Cannes the same year. He also served as the President of the Jury at the 22nd Sarajevo Film Festival (2016) and was a guest at the 19th Sarajevo Film Festival (2013).

“It is our privilege to pay tribute to the esteemed author and friend of the Sarajevo Film Festival, whose universal language of cinema speaks to fundamental human values and emotions: fear and hope, home and homeland. With his trademark wit, humour and profound insight, he navigates the complexities of our existence, shedding light on the absurdities of life with unmatched clarity and poignancy, portraying the spirit and identity of Palestine with a unique authorial style. Now, in the darkest of times in his native land, his work serves as a beacon of understanding, reminding us of the power of storytelling to inspire meaningful dialogue.”, stated Jovan Marjanović, director of the Sarajevo Film Festival.


Born in 1960 in Nazareth, Elia Suleiman lived in New York from 1981 to 1993. While in the United States, he directed his first two short films: “Introduction to the End of an Argument” and “Homage by Assassination”, winning numerous awards. In 1994, he settled down in Jerusalem, where the European Commission had entrusted him with the mission of creating a Film and Media Department at Birzeit University. His first feature film, “Chronicle of a Disappearance”, won the Best First Film Prize at the 1996 Venice Film Festival. In 2002, “Divine Intervention” won the Jury Prize and the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize of the Cannes Film Festival as well as the Best Foreign Film Prize at the European Awards in Rome. In 2007, he was chosen as one of the 35 directors of “To Each His Own Cinema”, a collective film for the Cannes Film Festival 60th anniversary. His feature film “The Time That Remains” was in the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009.


In 2012, he completed a short film titled “Diary of a Beginner,” part of a collective feature titled “7 Days in Havana”. The film was in the official selection “Un Certain Regard” in Cannes Film Festival. His last feature film titled “It Must Be Heaven” won the Jury Special Mention in Cannes in 2019, and the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize of the Cannes Film Festival.

Elia Suleiman has participated in numerous Festivals as a Jury member including the Cannes Film Festival (2006) and the Venice Film Festival. Elia Suleiman is the recipient of numerous tributes amongst which is the Prince Claus in 2008; He was named “Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the Ministry of Culture in 2020.

Elia Suleiman is the recipient of The European Achievement in World Cinema in 2022; and an Honorary Doctorate from UcLouvain Belgium in February 2023.


Elia Suleiman is currently serving as an artistic advisor for the Doha Film Institute. 


Previous Recipients of the Honorary Heart of Sarajevo Award include:

Mark Cousins (2023), Lynne Ramsay (2023), Charlie Kaufman (2023), Jesse Eisenberg (2022), Ruben Östlund (2022), Sergei Loznitsa (2022), Paul Joseph Schrader (2022), Wim Wenders (2021), Michel Franco (2020), Mads Mikkelsen (2020), Tim Roth (2019), Isabelle Huppert (2019), Alejandro González Iñárritu (2019), Paweł Pawlikowski (2019), Nijaz Hastor (2018), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2018), Oliver Stone (2017), John Cleese (2017), Wolfgang Amadeus Brülhart (2016), Stephen Frears (2016), Robert De Niro (Lifetime Achievement Award, 2016), Benicio Del Toro (2015), Atom Egoyan (2015), Agnès B. (2015), Danis Tanović (2014), Gael García Bernal (2014), Béla Tarr (2013), Roberto Olla (2013), Branko Lustig (2012), Emil Tedeschi (2011), Jafar Panahi (2011), Angelina Jolie (2011), Dieter Kosslick (2010), Manfred Schmidt (2009), Cat Villiers (2008), Steve Buscemi (2007), Mike Leigh (2006), Gavrilo Grahovac (2006), Marco Müller (2005).

Previous Honourees of the Sarajevo Film Festival’s “Tribute to” Programme include:

Jessica Hausner (2023), Sergei Loznitsa (2022), Wim Wenders (2021), Michel Franco (2020), Paweł Pawlikowski (2019), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2018), Joshua Oppenheimer, Oliver Stone (2017), Amat Escalante (2016), Brillante Mendoza, Atom Egoyan (2015), Michael Winterbottom (2014), Cristi Puiu (2013), Todd Solondz (2012), Lucrecia Martel (2011), Bruno Dumont (2010), Jia Zhang-ke (2009), Todd Haynes (2008), Tsai Ming-Liang, Ulrich Seidl (2007), Abel Ferrara, Béla Tarr (2006), Alexander Payne (2005), Dušan Makavejev, Gaspar Noé (2004), Peter Mullan (2003), Stephen Frears (2002), Mike Leigh (2001), Steve Buscemi (2000).

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