Created as an act of resistance to the siege of the city during the Bosnian war, from 1992-1995, the Sarajevo Film Festival opens to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Founder and director Mirsad Purivatra said the festival's "vision and ambitions" were now to promote the best young talent from Europe and the Balkans.
"Every year we have improved the quality of the festival and it has now become important not only in our region, but also in Europe," Purivatra said.
The festival will also offer its biggest ever line-up of films, with 247 movies from 60 countries to be screened during the nine-day event.
Nine movies are in the running for the 16,000 euro ($21,390) "Heart of Sarajevo" award to be decided by the international jury chaired by famed Hungarian director Bela Tarr.
Oscar-winning US actress Melissa Leo and London-based Tate Modern director Chris Dercon are also among the jurors.
French director Michel Hazanavicius, best known for his Oscar-winning black-and-white comedy "The Artist", will present his new Cannes-premiered film "The Search".
Fans will also be able to see "Bridges of Sarajevo", an omnibus film by 13 European directors focused on 20th century conflicts in the Balkans, screened in Cannes in May.
Chinese director Diao Yinan, who won the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival earlier this year with "Black Coal, Thin Ice" and his lead actress Gwei Lun Mei, will also attend the festival.
A retrospective of films by British director Michael Winterbottom is also to be screened.
This year's honorary guest, Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal, will officially open the festival Friday evening.
The organisers expect some 100,000 visitors to the festival, which runs until August 23.