This year’s 57th Bitef was officially opened at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre, with a moving speech by director Boro Drašković and the acclaimed German play “Children of the Sun” directed by Mateja Koležnik.

Before the opening, a festive cocktail was held in the Yugoslav Drama Theater organised by Bitef and the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia. On that occasion, the festival’s artistic director Nikita Milivojević and deputy head of the EU Delegation in Serbia, Plamena Halacheva, greeted the attendees.

In her opening address, Halacheva pointed out that she is proud that the EU Delegation in Serbia is supporting the Bitef festival for the sixth time.

“We are aware of his colossal contribution to fostering cultural ties between Serbia, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, as well as other European countries. Bitef promotes the ideas and values that the EU fosters – openness, intercultural exchange, freedom of expression, solidarity. Support for culture and creative industries is in the DNA of the European Union. Art and culture encourage us to rethink reality, and to question and understand each other. This is crucial for Europe, whose culture is so rich and diverse,” said Halacheva at the opening of this year’s Bitef.

“Life and art equally convincingly support the Chinese proverb Everything is connected with everything.” A butterfly flaps its wings in Madagascar, a storm begins in Belgrade, at least on the stage,” said Drašković, who in 1967 was a member of the Initiative Board and a member of the jury of the first held Bitef.

Looking back on the decades-long history of Bitef, which he calls a celebration of new theater, Drašković recalled some of the key performances that the festival hosted. He mentioned just some of the big world names that visited Bitef – from Yuri Ljubimov and Andrzej Wajda to Peter Brook and Robert Wilson to Ingmar Bergman and Samuel Beckett.

The play “Children of the Sun”, which officially opened this year’s Bitef, was produced by the German theater Schauspielhaus Bochum and directed by the award-winning Slovenian director Mateja Koležnik, and brings a new reading of Maxim Gorky. With the excellent costumes of Ana Savić Gecan and the extraordinary scenery designed by Rajmund Orfeo Vojt, the play brings his heroes closer to the modern audience in an interesting way, which lives in a world redefined by crises.

The very next day, October 5, the audience can expect the opening of the Bitef polyphony accompanying program, as well as a lecture by Prof. Dr. Ana Vujanović, while the play “Goodbye, Lindita” of the National Theater of Greece will be performed on the “Mira Trailović” stage of the Atelje 212 Theater. The young director Mario Banuši received numerous praises for his touching portrayal of Balkan traditions and customs related to the death of loved ones, and Belgrade is precisely the first stop of the big tour on which this play is embarking. Friday at Bitef will be marked by two local productions “The desire to make solid history will end in failure” in the Bitef theater and “Like all single girls” in Atelier 212.

Tickets are on sale through the festival website, and can also be purchased at the Bitef box office on the first floor of the MTS hall, as well as before the beginning of the performances at the ticket offices of the mentioned theaters.

All information about the main and supporting programs of the festival can be found on the official website of the festival, as well as via social networks Facebook and Instagram.

Photo: Jakov Simić, Tanja Drobnjak