17th Zagreb Film Festival’s Program Presented

The program of the 17th Zagreb Film Festival was presented at the press conference held in the Croatian Music Institute. The new edition of the biggest Zagreb adventure dedicated to fans of film art will be held over the course of a record 11 days, from Thursday till Sunday, November 7th till 17th in Tuškanac Cinema, Museum of Contemporary Art, KIC Hall, F22 – New Academy Scene, Dubrava Cultural Center, Cultural Center Travno, HUB385 and the Croatian Music Institute. The festival director Boris T. Matić, executive director Hrvoje Laurenta, producer Lana Matić and Hrvatski Telekom’s marketing director for private users Richard Brešković presented the festival competition program, side and other programs.

“We are at the beginning of another, 17th ZFF story which we are entering in bright neon colors. It seems that last year’s visual with paper seats being blown away by a giant ventilator was prophetic, and this year’s neon visual, leaning on the recognizable visual of Europa Cinema, is nostalgic, because our hunch came true. After more than ten years in the most beautiful and biggest cinema in Zagreb, we ended up as a festival in exile. The festival will last for a full three days longer so we can show in new conditions all that we’ve been preparing during the last year, which is around a hundred films in twelve film programs at eight locations in Zagreb and another twenty Croatian cities. Thanks to the support from our colleagues from Tuškanac Cinema, where we placed the majority of the competition program, and partners from the Museum of Contemporary Art, KIC Hall, Dubrava Cultural Center and Cultural Center Travno, HUB 385, Lauba and the Croatian Music Institute, we can say we were not thrown from the saddle, i.e. cinema seats, and that we enter the new festival chapter with our heart in (the right) place”, Boris T. Matić said.

Boris T. Matić also reflected on the particularities of the selection for the feature film competition program: “We visited international festivals and had our finger on the global film pulse, and among a large number of films, we chose eleven for the competition program. Everyone who wants to see what it looks like when youth, craziness, and courage combine with film art are hereby invited to this year’s ZFF to see probably the best selection to date: first and second movies of authors from around the world, among them four Oscar candidates – Russian, Belgian, Columbian, and Danish, a Sundance Audience Award winner, the Best Debutant of Cannes Critics’ Week, the winner of Sarajevo Film Festival, and others.

American director Robert Eggers is well-known thanks to his debut The Witch for which he received a Sundance award. At ZFF we will see his second film The Lighthouse, a hypnotizing fantasy horror with Robert Pattison and Willem Dafoe, which won the FIPRESCI Award in Cannes. A minimalist story about two wickies on a remote island has a maximum horror effect which leads the audience into the heart of madness. In contention for the Golden Pram is the Beanpole, a story about the Second World War from a female point of view. The second feature film of the young director Kantemir Balagov is this year’s Russian Oscar contender, and it got the Best Director Award at the Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.

Several exceptional films by Latin American authors will be shown at ZFF, and two of them we will see in the main program. The first is the Columbian Oscar contender Monos, directed by Alejandro Landes. This tense combination of a war movie and thriller gives us a disturbing and hallucinatory vision of the chaos of war in which children take the centre stage, which is why critics compare it to Apocalypse Now and Lord of the Flies. From Latin America, we also have César Díaz, the director of Our Mothers, the Belgian Oscar contender, which deals with the consequences of the Guatemalan Civil War, and which won the Best Debutant Award at Cannes Critics’ Week.

In the main program, our region is represented by two female authors with extremely interesting directorial works. Take Me Somewhere Nice, directed by Ena Sendijarević, is a Dutch-Bosnian road film about the return of a young émigré to Bosnia and Herzegovina and it has already won the Heart of Sarajevo award, while critics recognize Jim Jarmusch’s influence in her debut film. Romanian-Serbian film Ivana the Terrible by Ivana Mladenović comes to the ZFF with a Special Jury Prize – Cineasti del Presente at the Locarno Festival. It is a sharp-witted autobiographical comedy about a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown and everyday stresses within a small community. The director, her friends and family play themselves in the film, and the author’s grandmother is brilliant in one of the supporting roles.

The main program will also feature the debut film by Australian director Shannon Murphy, whom critics heavily compare with Jane Campion. Youth and craziness, laughter and tears, love and pain perfectly complement each other in Babyteeth. Shannon Murphy is currently directing the third season of HBO’s award-winning series Killing Eve, and fans of TV series will be familiar with the name of the director of the dark humor drama De Patrick. Tim Mielants is one of the directors of the TV series Peaky Blinders, and ZFF is presenting his feature film debut, which takes place in a nudist camp. The fantastic and completely undressed cast is joined by New Zealand actor Jemaine Clement (Eagle vs Shark, What We Do in the Shadows).

Two full-fledged dramas arrive to ZFF from Scandinavia. Queen of Hearts is the Danish Oscar contender, which premiered at Sundance, where it won the Audience Award. This erotic drama directed by May el-Toukhy about an affair of a sucessful lawyer and her considerably younger stepson, opens a whole range of moral and ethical questions. The Norwegian-Swedish sociodrama Beware of Children by Johan Haugerud arrives from the producers of Ruben Ostlund films’ workshop. This story about a tragic accident involving children of political opponents goes to the heart of the idea of tolerance and its disintegration in the clash of irreconcilable world views.

Films which frame this year’s festival edition also touch upon politics. The festival will open with the charming French dramedy Alice and the Mayor by Nicolas Pariser about a once ambitious mayor of Lyon “who feels like an expensive and powerful car with no gas” and his relationship with a young philosopher who is tasked with arming him with new, progressive ideas. The political satire The Barefoot Emperor directed by Jessica Woodworth and Peter Brosens will close the festival as the twelfth film shown in the main program outside of competition. The sequel to King of the Belgians (ZFF 2016) with Udo Kier and Geraldine Chaplin has a Croatian co-producer (Propeler Film) and it was filmed completely in Croatia.

The international short film competition program includes 10 films, and among them are The Last Image of Father by Stefan Đorđević, which received the Heart of Sarajevo Award for short film, a new movie by Cannes winner, Chinese director Qiu Yang She Runs, and Kingdom Come by Robert Sean Dunn, whose movie British by the Grace of God received special recognition at ZFF 2017. Checkers, the national short film competition program also features 10 films. Among them are authors whose films were already shown or won in this popular program, such as Dubravka Turić (Tina), Judita Gamulin (Sedra), Tomislav Šoban (Fragile), Josip Lukić (Summer Fruits), Jakov Nola (Homely), Lovro Mrđen (The Stamp) and Filip Mojzeš (Elephant’s Graveyard). New names in Checkers are Zoran Stojkovski (Labour Day Waltz), Bojan Radanović (Letters), Rino Barbir (Snitch) and Jasmina Beširević, whose movie The Last Cinema Show, about an unofficial janitor and the guardian angel of Europa Cinema, Joža, will be shown outside of competition.

Along with the main program of feature and short films, ZFF has two additional competition programs. Hrvoje Laurenta presented the programs Together Again and PLUS: “Together again is one of ZFF’s most recognizable programs considering it shows films of authors whose work ZFF continuously follows through the festival program or film distribution. The big change in this year’s edition is that the best film will be decided by – the audience. Along with the long-awaited Jojo Rabbit by Taika Waititi, a dark comedy about Hitler with Scarlett Johansson produced by Disney, we will show the Icelandic The County by Grímur Hákonarson (Rams, ZFF 2016) which critics compare with the hit movie Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, About Endlessness by Swedish absurdist Roy Andersson, the dance melodrama Ema by famed Chilean director Pablo Larrain (Jackie, Neruda) and the Brasilian SF drama Divine Love directed by Gabriel Mascaro (Neon Bull, ZFF 2016). The competition program PLUS is full of youthfulness since its films are chosen and awarded by Zagreb highschool students. For this year’s edition they chose five movies: Let There Be Light by Marko Škop (Slovak Oscar candidate), Stupid Young Heart by Finnish author Selma Vilhunen (winner of the program Generation 14plus at the Berlin Film Festival), the Dutch Afterlife by Willem Bosch, the Slovenian Don’t Forget to Breathe directed by Martin Turk, and the winner of multiple awards at the Pula Film Festival The Diary of Diana B. directed by Dana Budisavljević.”

The best movies in the feature film competition program will be decided by the jury consisting of: director Dana Budisavljević, director Elmir Jukić and director Ágnes Kocsis. The jury for the international short film main program and the Checkers program consists of: screenwriter Stefan Bošković, CEO of Klasik TV Maja Jelisić Cooper, and director Mladen Stanić. The best film from the Together Again program will be awarded by the audience, and films from PLUS program will be judged by a highschool jury consisting of: Maja Vuković, Lea Magzan, Lina Jelena Galijatović, Klara Mišković, and Tina Grgić.

The director of the Zagreb Film Festival, Boris T. Matić, also presented this year’s rich side program. “Along with the permanent and popular programs The Great 5, LUX Film Days, My First Film and Bib for Kids, this year we are presenting two new ones. The history of exile is an endless story whose climax is happening today and in our neighbourhood. Chosen by the curator, film critic Diana Nenadić, prompted by Croatia’s presiding of the EU Council, we present the program Fragments from the Exile whose small sample will show how some renowned European filmmakers have reacted to different aspects of that ineradicable phenomenon: Jerzy Skolimowski, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Želimir Žilnik, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Ulrich Seidl. Two Berlins – Films Across the Wall also features an interesting program, which was prepared by Restart and Dokukino KIC in cooperation with Goethe-Institut Kroatien and ZFF to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.

We will see a selection of films from five of the largest European cinematographies in the Great 5 program, which is realized in cooperation with the network of European Union National Institutes for Culture in Croatia (EUNIC). We can expect a quirky rom-com La Belle Époque by Nicolas Bedos with French stars Daniel Auteuil and Guillaume Canet, a film about the life of the first Sicilian Mafia boss turned pentito, also the Italian Oscar contender The Traitor, directed by Marco Bellochi, then Lara, a long awaited second film by the german director Jan Ole Gerster which won three awards in Karlovy Vary, and the Spanish The August Virgin by Jonás Truebe, an atmospheric drama awarded by the critics in Karlovy Vary. My First Film: In Memoriam, by the curator Nenad Polimac, this year presents the first movies of great authors who have died recently: Agnès Varda, Miloš Forman, Dušan Makavejev, George A. Romero, and Nicholas Roeg. And in LUX Film Days we will see the finalists of the LUX Award given by the European Parliament for excellence in European film: God Exists, Her Name is Petrunya by Macedonian director Teona Strugar Mitevski, and the Franco-Spanish thriller about a corrupt politician, The Realm, directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen. During LUX Film Days, the finalists are shown in 28 states of the EU on 24 languages. This year, LUX Film Days will be held on Sunday, November 17, in Tuškanac Cinema. Bib for Kids, is one of ZFF’s olders programs, which will see its 13th edition this year, and it is aimed at elementary school film lovers. The topic of Bib for Kids – climate change – has been inspired by the current events among children and youth, and the global youth climate movement started by the Swede Greta Thunberg. For an even younger audience (3+), which will see their first big screen films, we will once again host KinoKino Festival’s program of short films, First Time at the Cinema. Films from the children’s program will be shown in Tuškanac Cinema, MSU, NS Dubrava, and KUC Travno.

The program of INDUSTRY, ZFF’s education and networking platform for professionals was presented by ZFF’s producer Lana Matić: “During eight days, the program of Industry will once again present a series of lectures, panels and workshops, as well as a pitching forum with 7 student projects from the region. Along with the regular programs, such as the workshop My First Video Game aimed at children aged 7 to 14, in collaboration with HUB385, and the workshop My First Script in collaboration with the Croatian Film Directors’ Guild, we will also touch upon the art of script development for television and video games, but also the topic of film score. The development of video games is in the constant focus of the INDUSTRY program, so this year through the program Interactive Empathy in collaboration with the Goethe Institute in Zagreb and the French Institute in Croatia, we will organize three masterclass lectures of international gaming experts and the panel discussion Is it possible to develop an art hit game?. The masterclass lectures The Making of Trüberbrook will deal with the development of the successful German adventure detective sci-fi game, while the masterclass Narrative Design for Video Games will discuss the tools needed for young game designers to develop convincing stories. In order to help local professionals be as successful as possible at the international market, this year within the Industry program, in collaboration with DKE – Ured MEDIA Croatia and DKE – Ured MEDIA Serbia, we organized a three-day workshop for professionals dedicated to the development of TV-series. The workshop will be led by Hayley McKenzie and Kay Stonham, experts from the company Script Angel with extensive experience in the development of film and TV scripts. Applications are open until October 31, so we invite professionals to apply. Hayley McKenzie will also give a lecture focusing on the creation of exceptional TV-series and their relationship to feature films. Again, this year’s Industry Youth! Pitching forum in collaboration with 7 regional academies of dramatic arts will see 14 students develop and pitch their projects, and the best will win valuable rewards from our partners, studio Vizija and Šesnić&Turković. The educational platform of script and project development MIDPOINT will be presented to those interested, and the program will close with the event Who’s That Playin’ Over there? in which we will talk with Croatian film music composers – Jura Ferina, Pavle Miholjević, Alen Sinkauz, Nenad Sinkauz and Hrvoje Štefotić. We will touch upon the interesting topic of original score as an element of dramaturgy and its role in the film’s atmosphere and character development. For all those who can’t visit big film manifestations around the world, we bring festival greats to you in the program Festivals in the Spotlight. We will screen parts of programs of the Locarno Film Festival, the Mediterranean Film Festival Split, the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival and the Sofia International Film Festival. There is also a film from our mediterranean film network Kino Mediteran.”

Richard Brešković, the director of the Marketing Sector for Private Users in Hrvatski Telekom, commented on our long-standing and successful collaboration with the general sponsor of the festival, Hrvatski Telekom: “Zagreb Film Festival is the biggest film event in Zagreb, and it is of great significance to the Croatian cinema and culture in general. Hrvatski Telekom has supported the biggest Croatian film festival over the years, and it has been with the Zagreb Film Festival 8 years in the running. We love to cooperate with film festivals because, traditionally, we bring our users exclusive films directly into their homes via the MAXtv platform. Besides the MAXtv video store at home, MAXtv users can also enjoy an exclusive selection of ZFF films anywhere with the MAXtv To Go service enabled by HT’s new IPTV platform and the best network. Hrvatski Telekom continually invests in service development and new technologies which also encompasses premium content for users. A unique selection of top films is based on our excellent cooperation between ZFF and Hrvatski Telekom which gives MAXtv a different standing in relation to our competitors because MAXtv users can watch selected films, except at the festival, only in the MAXtv video store. Still, as Zagreb turns to a film heaven for a few days, we invite you to join us and enjoy excellent films at this year’s Zagreb Film Festival, and watch the exclusive selection of ZFF films in MAXtv video store in your own home or anywhere with your family or friends.”

Hrvoje Laurenta touched upon the record expansion of the festival outside of Zagreb: “As in previous editions of the festival, part of the program and positive ZFF atmosphere will be transferred outside of Zagreb – but this year in the record number of cities. Within the program ZFF Travels, part of the program will be shown in 20 Croatian cities during November: Bjelovar, Dubrovnik, Ivanec, Koprivnica, Prelog, Rijeka, Rovinj, Samobor, Slatina, Split, Šibenik, Varaždin, Velika Gorica, Zadar, Sv. Ivan Zelina, Hvar, Omiš, Bol, Podgora and Imotski.

General sponsor of the Festival is Hrvatski Telekom, and is financially supported by the City Office for Culture, Croatian Audiovisual Center and Creative Europe – a MEDIA sub-programme. Media coverage of the Festival is provided by Jutarnji list, Tportal, HRT, HRT3, Yammat FM and Gold FM. The monetary awards sponsor for best film in the feature film, short film and PLUS program is Addiko Bank, while the award for best film of the Checkers program is provided by the Croatian Film Directors’ Guild. The Festival is supported by Zagrebačka Pivovara, Coca Cola, Mastercard, Auto Benussi, Hotel Park 45, FED and others.