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At the Cannes Film Festival, the Association of European Film Archives and Cinematheque (ACE) awarded the project for restoration led by the State Audiovisual Archive of Serbia – Yugoslav Film Archive, in collaboration with film archives from Bulgaria and Montenegro.

From all the entries submitted from the European archives, the jury, which included Barbara Häbe of ARTE, Eva Sangiorgi, the artistic director of the Viennale, and the filmmaker, István Szabó, selected the film The Peach Thief (1964) from the Bulgarian director Vulo Radev, starring Rade Marković.

In addition to its regular program, A Season of Classic Films introduced a new financing segment in 2022 which requires at least three European film archives or cinematheques to collaborate on a single digital restoration, further emphasizing the significance of preserving the film heritage through transnational cooperation among film institutions. Apart from the Yugoslav Film Archive’s project, a smaller grant was given to the partnership of the Film Archive of Austria, the Dutch Film Archives, and the Royal Film Archive of Belgium for a short film restoration project.

The Yugoslav Film Archive will present Traces of a Black-Haired Girl (1972, Centar Film) as part of the regular program, which includes the film entries from each archive or cinematheque. This digitally restored film is set to premiere at the Yugoslav Film Archive on December 28, 2024.

“Following the restoration of films such as Sinner without a Sin by Kosta Novaković, Klakson by Kokan Rakonjac, and The Ambush by Živojin Pavlović, the Yugoslav Film Archive continues with its participation in A Season of Classic Films project which started as an idea to raise awareness regarding the significance of film archives and cinematheques, the preservation and accessibility of film heritage as well as bringing that heritage closer to younger generations. We are thrilled to have received the grant this year and to be leading the project, as well as collaborating with film archives in Sofia and Podgorica, to restore the film The Peach Thief from the original negative to a 4K edition at the Yugoslav Film Archive’s Department of Digital Restoration.

I am honored to receive this recognition from the jury presided over by István Szabó, a great Hungarian director. This year, we will be showcasing the film Traces of Black-Haired Girl, which has been included in the list of 100 Serbian feature films that were recognized as an important national cultural treasure by the Yugoslav Film Archive in 2016,” said the director of the Yugoslav Film Archive, Jugoslav Pantelić.

In his address to the Cannes jury and representatives of European film archives and the Yugoslav Archive, director Pantelić expressed joy that the restoration project of this film marked the beginning of collaboration between Serbian (then, Yugoslav) and Bulgarian cinematography exactly 60 years ago. The director of the Yugoslav Film Archive has announced that the film will premiere at a major European film festival next year.

Filmed exactly sixty years ago, The Peach Thief marks the first collaboration between Yugoslav and Bulgarian archives. The story takes place during the First World War and explores the romantic relationship between the wife of a Bulgarian colonel and a Serbian prisoner. Warm, lyrical, and visually stunning, it tells an intimate story set against the backdrop of tumultuous and traumatic events at the turn of the twentieth century. The film, featuring Rade Marković in the lead role, screened at the Venice Film Festival competition in 1964.

This is the fifth year of the A Season of Film Classic Films project, which is backed by the European Commission and involves a lot of local partners and participants. It’s a project again entrusted to the regional branch of FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives) and ACE, which brings together 49 European national and regional film archives and cinematheque and plays an important role in the protection and preservation of the European film heritage, with the commitment to collect audio-visual records that are kept in archives and cinematheques across Europe, make it available to the public.