Zagreb, 30 September – The debutant and second films of up-and-coming authors have been the stars of Zagreb Film Festival’s (ZFF) main programme for 12 years in a row. The competition programmes of earlier festival editions presented the debutant feature-length films of the authors who have achieved global popularity in the meantime. ZFF proudly continues to keep track of their work. The new programme we are introducing this year, Together Again, presents new films of ZFF’s old friends: Andrei Zvyagintsev, Xavier Dolan, Anton Corbijn, Taika Waititi and Shlomi and Ronit Elkabetz.
It has been eleven years since ZFF and Andrei Zvyagintsev, then a Russian TV director and actor with freshly won Golden Lion in Venice, began their respective ascents to acclaim. In the meantime, ZFF has become a relevant destination on the world festival map and Zvyagintsev has turned into the greatest figure of modern Russian cinematography. His films The Return (2003) and The Banishment (2007) are ZFF laureates and his award-winning drama Elena (2012) was also shown in Zagreb. This year, his latest film Leviathan will be shown as part of Together Again programme. It is about the conflict between Kolya, a humble car mechanic in northern Russia whose house happens to be on an attractive patch of land, and Vadim, a corrupt local big shot who wants to build a luxurious weekend house on Kolya’s land. The script, written by Andrei Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, was awarded at Cannes Film Festival this year.
The new programme also includes the fifth and, according to many, the most accomplished film of Canadian director Xavier Dolan. As in his semi-autobiographic debut I Killed My Mother (2009), awarded at the 7th ZFF, Dolan tackles his favorite subject – Oedipus complex. In his latest film Mommy, Canadian actress and Dolan’s muse Anne Dorval appears in the role of Diane, a tough, sexy widow and a single mother. Her nightmare begins when her aggressive son Steve gets released from a mental institution and she has to look out for him. Mommy won Dolan the Jury Award at Cannes Film Festival (he shared the award with Jean-Luc Godard).
Taika Waititi is a New Zealand filmmaker known by his peculiar comedies Eagle Vs. Shark (2007) and Boy (2010), both shown at earlier editions of ZFF. Jemaine Clement is adored by the fans of the super-popular comedy show Flight of Conchords. The first film they have written and directed together, What We Do In The Shadows, is a horror-comedy about three lonely vampires living in a Wellington suburb. Trying to fit into modern society, bloodsuckers Viago, Deacon and Vladislav want to be sexy. They work out and have hobbies (including knitting) and they quite openly show their emotions. Made in the form of a false documentary, What We Do In The Shadows hilariously plays with cinematic stereotypes about the ‘undead’. It is a welcome infusion of fresh blood for the worn out vampire genre.
We got to know Dutch photographer and director Anton Corbijn in 2005, when his famous debutant film Control won Audience Award at the 5th Zagreb Film Festival. This year we present Corbijn’s third feature film, A Most Wanted Man. This psychological drama based on a John Le Carré novel takes place in the post-9/11 world in which the fear from global terrorism plays into the hands of powerful global lobbies. Philip Seymour Hoffman, the brilliant actor who passed away recently, excels in one of his last roles. The cast also includes Willem Dafoe, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright and Nina Hoss.
The directing and writing duo, Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz, the authors of To Take A Wife, the winner of the 2nd Zagreb Film Festival, are back with the gripping courtroom drama Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem, the Israeli candidate for Oscar. The film follows five years of an Israeli woman’s attempts to divorce her problematic husband. The council of rabbis will grant her divorce only when her husband signs the gett, a permission that will allow his wife to become available to other men. Ronit Elkabetz, the film’s co-director and a great Israeli and French actress, stars in the film. Critics have compared her with Anna Magnani.