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It was the only film festival in socialist countries that attracted big Hollywood stars such as Jack Nicholson, Kirk Douglas, Robert De Niro, Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and famous directors like Miloš Forman, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski, Sam Peckinpah, Pier Paolo Pasolini etc.
The festival's significance declined in the 1990s, mostly due to the international embargo FR Yugoslavia was under at the time. In 1993 and 1994, it was not even held and in 1997 it was interrupted in protest against police brutality taking place against student protesters.
However, FEST still attracts a large number of movie buffs. In 2007, 98,191 tickets were sold for around 80 films.
Since 2006, B2B Belgrade Industry Meetings is established as a part of FEST. Program and business focus of B2B are cinematographies of the Europe out of Europe countries. B2B focuses on production, authors and films with the origin geographically in Europe, but still not enough intensely included in European integrative currents, also in countries outside Europe with strong European influence and heritage - Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
B2B become a gathering place for directors, producers, financiers, exhibitors, distributors, representatives of ministries of culture and film centers from the above-mentioned countries, together with representatives of film funds and production companies from Western Europe. B2B will give the professionals - independent producers, fund representatives, distributors, representatives of the festivals, TV buyers - possibility to take deep insight in cinematography and production possibilities in these countries.
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