The Serbian project picked up the prize at Sarajevo Film Festival's Docu Rough Cut Boutique last week, and it will be invited to IDFA 2021 with a tailor-made program consisting of mentorship and consultations.
Billed as a "documentary Western," Bottlemen deals with the biggest Balkan landfill, Serbia's Vinča, situated on top of a world-famous archaeological site. This toxic landscape, where indistinguishable fires often start, polluting the air in Belgrade - which happened again exactly during this year's Sarajevo Film Festival - is a workplace for a community of plastic bottle collectors, known as Bottlemen. Through intimate portraits of its members, the film follows this group, led by Yanika, a former boxer. They arrive with dreams of earning big money, but the landfill becomes their new home and prison at the same time.
"In this beautifully shot film, Vojinović takes us into the lives of the protagonists, showing the dreams and difficulties of the lives of these people. It is a very urgent film on all levels," says Laurien ten Houten, IDFA's Industry Relations and Talks Manager who chose Bottlemen at Sarajevo. "I've known this project for some years now and I am really happy to see how it turned out and I am confident it will find its way into the festival circuit."
The film is produced by Marija Stojnić, who took part in IDFA Competition for First Appearance in 2019 with her directorial debut Speak So I Can See You, which previously went through IDFAcademy in 2018.
"It will be exciting to bring our film to the attention of the international community at IDFA and we couldn't think of a better last stop for our film just before its completion. I am really grateful for the opportunity to come back to IDFA for the third time, now in the role of the producer for Nemanja's film Bottlemen," says Stojnić.
Vojinović adds: "After more than four years of work on this film, I am very proud that IDFA has recognised the quality of our project. This award represents a huge validation and gives us a boost of confidence to finish the film and prepare for its festival career."
Bottlemen is a co-production between Serbian companies Rt Dobre Nade and Set Sail Films, and Slovenia's Urgh!