Thirteen debut or second films competing for the Golden Pram ▪ Competition includes films from all over the world, from Scandinavia to Oceania ▪ Czech Republic and Iceland appear with black humour dramas about families in crises, and Latin America is represented by powerful Venice Film Festival winners From Afar and Neon Bull ▪ Checkers celebrate their 10th birthday ▪ Industry program focuses on short films and inter-festival collaboration…
The 13th edition of Zagreb Film Festival was presented at a media conference held on Wednesday at the Müller Hall in Zagreb’s Europa Cinema. This year the Festival will warm up its faithful audience with a selection of finest film titles a bit later than usual: from Saturday, 14 to Sunday, 22 November at cinemas Europa and Tuškanac, Museum of Contemporary Art, Academy of Dramatic Art, Zagreb Dance Center and Docucinema KIC. The Festival was presented by managing director Boris T. Matić, executive director Hrvoje Laurenta, program coordinator Selma Mehadžić, Yellow Bib for Kids by RBA and PLUS coordinator Katarina Crnčić, and director of Department for Direct Marketing at Croatian Telecom Sanja Milinović.
Boris T. Matić introduced the competition: ‘The feature fiction program this year includes the record-breaking 14 titles from all over the world, from Scandinavia to the Pacific islands of Vanuatu, 13 of them in competition. Czech Republic and Iceland have sent us comparable films – both countries are represented with two films, focusing on the subject of family and family matters. After the last year’s Of Horses and Men, Icelandic titles remain faithful to fauna – this year we will be screening family dramas Rams and Sparrows. Icelandic Oscar candidate and the best film in Un Certain Regard section in Cannes, Rams, directed by Grímur Hákonarson, is a story of two stubborn brothers who need to settle the score after 40 years to save their prized sheep herds. Multi-award winning Sparrows, directed by Rúnar Rúnarsson, is a story about a father, a weekend-drinker who lives like there is no tomorrow, and his estranged teenage son.
Judging by this year’s ZFF competition, the Czechs have also turned their cameras to dysfunctional families. The Czech Oscar candidate Home Care, directed by Slavek Horak, revolves around Vlasta, a home care nurse who devoted her life to caring about other people. When she finds out that she is severely ill, she tries to focus on herself, but her spoilt husband and emotionally distanced daughter provide her with no support. The Czech Family Film, directed by Slovenian director Olmo Omerzu, is a black comedy about a family where everything that can possibly go wrong goes wrong. The Danish Oscar candidate, drama War by Tobias Lindholm, focuses on a family torn apart by the father’s military mission to Afghanistan.
The 13th ZFF competition includes the winning film at most prestigious world festivals. The Venezuelan entry From Afar, directed by Lorenzo Vigas, won a Golden Lion. A co-writer of this story about a turbulent relationship between two men of different generations and classes is Guillermo Arriaga (the screenwriter of Babel, Amores Perros and 21 Grams). The Brazilian film Neon Bull is a story about a handsome young Brazilian rodeo rider who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. At Lido it won a jury special mention in the Horizons section. The chilling Hungarian thriller about the Holocaust, Son of Saul by debut director Laszlo Nemes, Bela Tarr’s former assistant, won three awards in Cannes – the jury Grand Prix, FIPRESCI Award and François Chalais Award. Two films in the program speak about growing up in a fresh and unconventional way: Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Martin Scorsese’s former assistant), the winner of a jury and audience special mention at Sundance Film Festival, and the French film The New Kid, award-winning in San Sebastian.
The 13th ZFF competition includes two films whose bold directing approaches truly stand out. The Australian film Tanna, which premiered in Venice, is the first film ever made in the island state of Vanuatu. The plot revolves around a young couple whose love defies the tribal customs. Interestingly, the director wanted all the roles to be played by Yakel tribe members. The Estonian In the Crosswind was directed by debut author Martti Helde. Made in the ‘tableaux vivants’ form, the film is a reminiscence of an Estonian woman’s memories, whose family was decimated in Stalin’s purges in 1941. With Sparrows and Our Daily Life, which are partly Croatian films, the festival will be screening Zagreb Stories, the third part of the popular omnibus produced by Propeler Film, out of competition.’
The winners in the 13th ZFF feature fiction competition will be decided by a jury consisting of: Levan Koguashvili, director of the last year’s winner Blind Dates, Jessica Woodworth, director (Khadak, Fifth Season) and Cristoph Thoke, producer (Of Horses and Men, special mention at 12th ZFF).
Hrvoje Laurenta briefly mentioned the novelties in short competition: ‘This year we placed a special focus on the short film program, among other thing because of a special anniversary: the national competition Checkers is this year celebrating its 10th birthday. In its first decade Checkers have become one of the most important local platforms for the promotion of emerging filmmakers. The importance was additionally stressed with a long collaboration with the Croatian Film Directors Guild, which will guarantee a cash prize to the winner. The Checkers’ first decade will be celebrated with a series of activities and novelties: the chosen films are this year screened in a new, more attractive slot during the entire week, hand in hand with the international short competition.
Deciding on the winners in the Checkers section and the international short competition will be task of the same jury, consisting of: Sonja Tarokić, director, last year’s Checkers winner, Andrei Creţulescu, director, last year’s international competition winner, and Sata Cissokho from Memento Film, a sales and distribution company. Besides, ZFF is also hosting a panel on short film placement, with participation of Laurence Raymond, short film manager for the Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight program, Salette Ramalho, one of the directors of Curtas Vila do Conde Film Festival, moderated by Vanja Kaluđerčić.’
‘The PLUS program, intended for high schoolers, brings something new next to five catchy recent European film titles: this year the program became a competition, with a young jury deciding on the winner. The ninth ever Bib for Kids is marked by a new collaboration – with Raiffeisen Bank – to which aim we coloured the program: Yellow Bib for Kids by RBA, which will present eight cherry-picked European films for the youngest audience,’ said Katarina Crnčić.
Selma Mehadžić introduced the non-competition programs: ‘The special program grows richer by the year and again includes the extremely popular section The Great 5 and Together Again, as well as our continuation with the European Parliament: this year the program LUX FILM Day screens three finalists for the LUX Award. My First Film this year focuses on Bosnia and Herzegovina, while a retrospective of Orson Welles’ films and an accompanying exhibition at HAZU Glyptotheque reminisce of this great filmmaker in the year celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. Documentary films appear in the Making Of section and take us behind the scenes of famous feature narratives.’
The Industry section again this year features many events for filmmakers. Next to the already mentioned panel discussion, an important part of the festival will focus on inter-festival collaboration: Special Screenings at Docucinema KIC will present a selection of films from Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival and the Portuguese Curtas Vila do Conde Film Festival (one of the most important festivals dedicated to short film). Earlier collaborations with Sarajevo Film Festival and Sarajevo Film Academy’s film-factory program continue. This year’s program also features attractive master classes by experienced filmmakers and the fourth edition of My First Script workshop.
For the fifth time round Zagreb Film Festival’s general sponsor is Croatian Telecom. ‘It is known far and wide that Croatia Telecom invests in Croatian film festivals. We are particularly pleased that ZFF and Europa Cinema are again organising a first-rate event. Next to financial support, HT also contributes by lending state-of-the-art technology and services to the organisational team and Festival visitors. Collaboration with ZFF is a logical and natural choice since ZFF provides exceptional film for our MAXtv service. As we heard from the ZFF team, citizens of Zagreb and many other visitors will be able to enjoy outstanding films. Thanks to an excellent collaboration between ZFF and HT, films like Rams, Mustang, Zagreb Stories 3, Tourist, New Friends and others will be brought to many film lovers across Croatia, straight to their homes via MAXtv. Next to quality films, there will be prize draws, music and entertainment organised by the Festival and HT. So, what else is there left but to have a good time! See you at this year’s ZFF,’ said Sanja Milinović, director of the Department for Direct Marketing at Croatian Telecom.
Zagreb Film Festival’s program is today made available online on the official website www.zff.hr, and another news is that tickets are now available for online purchase.
The general sponsor of the Festival is Croatian Telecom. Media coverage is provided by Croatian Television Channel 3, Jutarnji list and Yammat FM. The Festival is funded by the City of Zagreb Office for Culture, Croatian Audiovisual Centre and Creative Europe – MEDIA Sub-programme.