21st ZFF Program Unveiled
At the press conference held on Wednesday, 18 October, at Urania – space of creation, the program of the 21st edition of the Zagreb Film Festival, the largest international feature film festival in Croatia, was presented by ZFF director Boris T. Matić, and producers Lana Matić and Selma Mehadžić.
“We are excited to present another rich and diverse program to our audience, taking place from 6 to 12 November at CineStar Branimir, SC cinema, Kinoteka, MSU, Dokukino KIC, as well as on online platforms kinoeuropa.hr and croatian.film. Due to the renovation of city cinemas, this year we will showcase the feature film competition – a selection of the best debut works from around the world – at CineStar Branimir. In Together Again and The Great 5 programs, we bring a series of films from established authors. These are films that will undoubtedly leave a mark on the upcoming film season, and our audience will have the opportunity to be among the first to see them,” stated Boris T. Matić.
MAIN COMPETITION PROGRAM
Eight films are competing for the Golden Pram in the International Feature Film Competition. A feature film debut by Jasna Nanut, the comedy Seventh Heaven, will open the 21st edition of ZFF. The film was developed in ZFF’s workshop My First Script, and it follows the romantic troubles of a charming philanderer (Krešimir Mikić) through a series of tragicomic attempts to confess his affair to his wife (Iva Mihalić). In the lead role of the touching and delicate Spanish drama 20,000 Species of Bees by director Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, we will watch 9-year-old Sofia Otero, the youngest Silver Bear recipient in the history of the Berlin Film Festival!
With the Audience Award from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, ZFF brings Radical, a contagiously optimistic film by Mexican director Christopher Zalla, starring Eugenio Derbez (CODA). Also returning viewers to the school desks is Excursion, a debut film by Una Gunjak (The Chicken ― Winner of the EFA Award for Best Short Film in 2014), the Bosnian Academy Award candidate. It tells the story of Sarajevo teenager Iman (Asja Zara Lagumdžija), whose seemingly harmless lie thrusts her into the center of a school scandal. Addressing teenage issues is How to Have Sex, a film by British director Molly Manning Walker, winner of the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes, described by The Guardian as “a guide to sexual consent for partygoers”.
The film Lost Country by Vladimir Perišić (Ordinary People, 2009) takes viewers to Serbia in 1996. Fifteen-year-old Stefan is faced with the toughest decision ― he must confront his beloved mother (Jasna Đuričić ― Quo Vadis, Aida?), the spokesperson for a corrupt government his friends are fighting against. The film premiered at this year’s Critics’ Week in Cannes, where actor Jovan Ginić was awarded the Louis Roederer Foundation Prize for Rising Star.
The romantic drama Past Lives by Canadian-Korean author Celine Song is a subtle and nuanced exploration of the concept of fateful connections (the Korean concept of in-yun), described by critics as a blend of Before Sunrise and In the Mood for Love. The feature debut of Icelandic director Ninna Pálmadóttir (All Dogs Die ― ZFF 2020), Solitude, delves into an unexpected friendship, based on a screenplay by the author well-known to ZFF’s audience, Rúnar Rúnarsson.
Two award-winning films by regional authors will be featured in the main program, out of competition. These are the historical thriller Guardians of the Formula, directed by the renowned actor, producer, and director Dragan Bjelogrlić, which received awards in Sarajevo and Locarno, and the explosive family drama Housekeeping for Beginners by Goran Stolevski, winner of the Queer Lion award in Venice. Before Housekeeping for Beginners, the short film My Flat from 1963 by Zvonimir Berković, which received a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Festival, will be screened to mark the 70th anniversary of Zagreb Film.
Thanks to the collaboration with the Croatian Association of the Blind, screenings of the films Seventh Heavenand Excursion will be adapted for the blind and visually impaired.
Eight films have been selected for the national short film competition Checkers by selector Vladimir Gojun. This year, those are: Short Cut Grass by David Gašo, Under the Rug by Paško Vukasović, Let Love In by Kristina Barišić, Creepy Crawlies by Filip Zadro, The Pack by Marko Jukić, Skummy by Saša Poštić, It’s Alright, It’s Nice by Luka Galešić, and I’ll be the First by Martina Marasović. The true story film The Real Truth About the Fight by Andrea Slaviček, which was included in the Critics’ Week program at Cannes, will be screened out of competition. This marks the festival’s participation in the “H15 ― 15 Years in Our Film” project, celebrating 15 years of HAVC’s activity.
The competitive program for international short films features 10 works: the Norwegian film Tits by Eivind Landsvik, showcased in the short film competition at Cannes, the Swiss-Portuguese Please Make It Work by Daniel Soares (What Remains ― ZFF 2022), the Norwegian Observation by Christoffer Lossius, the Bulgarian Everything Tastes Strange Today by Kristina Spassovska, the Swedish Container Scanning by Edvin Hallberg and Anton Hellström, the Spanish-Argentinian None of That by Francisco Canton and Patricio Martinez, the German Sentimental Stories by Xandra Popescu, the Greek Scorched Earth by Markela Kontaratou, the Chinese A Tortoise’s Year of Fate by Yi Xiong, and the Polish A Dead Marriage by Michał Toczek.
The members of the jury for the 21st Zagreb Film Festival have also been announced. The jury for the best feature films will consist of Macedonian actress and producer Labina Mitevska (God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya, The Happiest Man in the World), Austrian screenwriter and director Sebastian Meise (Great Freedom ― Golden Pram, ZFF 2021), and Norwegian producer Renée Hansen Mlodyszewski (The Worst Person in the World). The jury for the best short films will be comprised of Croatian director Josip Lukić (It’s Not Cold for Mosquitoes ― Golden Pram, ZFF 2022), Slovenian director Matjaž Ivanišin (That’s How the Summer Ended ― Golden Pram, ZFF 2022), and Daniel Ebner, co-founder and artistic director of the Vienna Shorts festival.
OTHER FILM PROGRAMS
Other programs of the 21st ZFF will also bring a series of intriguing titles: Together Again, The Great 5, Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region, PLUS, KinoKino, and the LUX Audience Award.
Six feature films by authors who were introduced to the ZFF audience in the previous editions of the Main Program are presented in the competition program Together Again. Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World by the renowned Romanian director Radu Jude is a hilarious satire on contemporary work culture, awarded a special recognition in Locarno. Winner of the Europa Cinemas Label at the Berlinale, Teacher’s Lounge directed by Ilker Çatak (When Namibia Was a City – Golden Pram 2011) is a brilliant study of power dynamics in a school, withLeonie Benesch (The White Ribbon) in the lead role. Sofia Coppola’s film Priscilla, based on the memoirs of Priscilla Presley, takes viewers to the mythical Graceland. Lead actress Cailee Spaeny won the Coppa Volpi award in Venice.
Six years after the suspenseful thriller The Charmer (ZFF 2017), Swedish-Iranian director Milad Alami presents his new film, the social thriller Opponent, which will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. The tender and poignant coming-of-age drama Ama Gloria is the first independent work by director Marie Amachoukeli-Barsacq, whose debut Party Girl won the Golden Camera at Cannes. Good Times, Bad Times, a surreal and melancholic film by Nevio Marasović (Vis-À-Vis, Goran), is also the final film of the great Slovenian actor Radko Polič. Films from the Together Again program will be judged by a jury consisting of cinematographer Stanko Herceg, editor and director Višnja Skorin, and director Josip Žuvan.
As part of The Great 5 program, ZFF brings films from five major European cinemas – French, British, German, Italian, and Spanish – in collaboration with cultural institutes and embassies of these countries. Anatomy of a Fall, the Cannes Palme d’Or-winning film by French director Justine Triet, is an intriguing courtroom drama with elements of psychological thriller, starring Sandra Hüller (Toni Erdmann, ZFF 2017). All of Us Strangers by British director Andrew Haigh is a blend of fantasy, horror, drama, and a steamy gay romance, starring Andrew Scott, Paul Mescal, Jamie Bell, and Claire Foy. The German representative in the program, Silver Bear winner Afire by Christian Petzold, is a slow-burning drama about a young writer whose inflated ego gradually deflates during a summer vacation in the Baltic idyll.
Italy is represented by the work of the great Marco Bellocchio, Kidnapped, a story based on a real 19th-century case when the Catholic Church abducted a Jewish boy. From Spain, there’s the minimalist drama set in an airport interrogation room, Upon Entry by Alejandro Rojas and Juan Sebastián Vásquez. Before Upon Entry, a new short film by Pedro Almodóvar will be shown, Strange Way of Life, a western with a queer twist starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke. The film was co-produced by the fashion house Saint Laurent.
This year, KinoKino has become a year-round film program for children. During the ZFF, a selection of feature films will be presented at the Kinoteka Cinema and MSU, competing for the Children’s Jury Award. The popular program First Time at the Cinema, in addition to the general audience, will also be presented to the children of the Sestre Milosrdnice University Hospital Center as part of the Film in the Hospital project, in collaboration with Sedmi kontinent. Specially designed for high school-aged audiences, ZFF’s PLUS program will be partly screened in cinemas and partly available online.
For the third in a row, the program Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region, a regional festival created by the collaboration of the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Festival of Author’s Film, the Herceg Novi Film Festival, the Ljubljana Film Festival (LIFFE), and the Zagreb Film Festival, secures its place among the competitive programs of the ZFF. We’ll be watching Sweet Dreams, a satire on European colonialism directed by Ena Sendijarević, the thriller Power by Slovak director Mátyás Prikler, the humorous and witty film about fathers and sons, Luxembourg, Luxembourg by Ukrainian director Antonio Lukich, the hilarious pseudo-documentary Black Stone by Spiros Jacovides, and the Scandinavian psychological thriller featuring Zlatko Burić, Copenhagen Does Not Exist by Martin Skovbjerg. As a special treat for cinephiles, we highlight the screening of Life of a Shock Force Worker by Bato Čengić, a digitally restored classic that premiered in Venice.
As part of the side program LUX Audience Award, presented in collaboration with the Office of the European Parliament in Croatia, we’ll be watching the Estonian documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood directed by Anne Hints.
The Festivals in the Spotlight program brings together nearly 50 recent feature-length and short films selected for ZFF by the program directors and selectors of ten European film festivals, ranging from the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Mediterranean Film Festival in Split, and the International Film Festival in Ljubljana, to the Locarno Film Festival and the Vienna Shorts International Short Film Festival. All films from the program will be available for free viewing on kinoeuropa.hr platform during the Festival.
A rich selection of masterclasses, workshops, panel discussions, and even two pitching forums caters to audiences of all ages and interests in ZFF’s Industry program, whose goal is to educate and network film professionals in the region. This year, Industry will host a number of esteemed film experts as lecturers, including Renée Hansen Mlodyszewski, producer of The Worst Person in the World and member of this year’s Feature Film Jury, award-winning German editor Bettina Böhler, a frequent collaborator with directors Christian Petzold and Margarethe von Trotta, dubbed by the media as the “incredible invisible woman of German cinema.” Additionally, the Czech-based Slovenian filmmaker, Olmo Omerzu, who has already presented three of his films at ZFF (Family Film, Winter Flies, The Last Day of Patriarchy), is also a guest. For the first time in collaboration with the prestigious Talents and Short Film Market, the Tell Me a Story workshop and pitching forum will also be held as part of Industry.
Two presentations will be held in collaboration with the CED – MEDIA Office Croatia. Anera Stopfer, the head of the Creative Europe Desk, will present the call for the Creative Innovative Lab in the Creative Europe program. As part of the MEDIA Info Day – What’s in it For Me?, Martina Petrović, the head of the CED – MEDIA Office, will share guidelines for submitting your own film project to the MEDIA Sub-program calls.
Industry’s educational program will once again support the development of new talents in Croatia and the region with a series of workshops and pitching forums: My First Script, My First Video Game, 54+, a workshop on creating film trailers, and the Industry Youth! pitching forum.
We organize the Industry program in collaboration with numerous partners: the Croatian Film Directors’ Association, the Croatian Film Workers’ Association, the Croatian Film Editors’ Association, the Academy of Dramatic Art, Talents and Short Film Market, the MIDPOINT Institute, the Croatian Screenwriters and Playwrights Guild, the CED — MEDIA Office Croatia, the Italian Film Institute, the Film Agency of North Macedonia, and Algebra.
Following our slogan We recycle everything but films, for the third year in a row, Zagreb Film Festival continues its environmental mission with a series of activities! Since last year, the festival catalog has been available only in digital form, and this year, we’re also saying goodbye to printed program booklets. The program and screening schedule will now be accessible solely on the official festival website and the ZFF mobile app. We’ve also launched posters, invitations, and the majority of accreditations into the digital realm. In comparison to previous editions, we’ve reduced the printing of other materials by over 50 percent. Guest gifts have been provided in collaboration with local and environmentally-friendly brands. We continue to work on developing green practices in collaboration with our friends and partners: Zelena Akcija/FoE Croatia and FED. To further improve these practices in future editions, we’re once again joining the Green Charter For Film Festivals initiative. Through their platform, we’ll be tracking the CO2 footprint during this year’s festival and comparing the results with last year’s edition. In collaboration with MG Cars, the festival will utilize electric and hybrid vehicles as official vehicles, achieving a reduction in negative CO2 emissions during preparations and throughout this year’s edition. To ensure visitors can arrive fast and environmentally-friendly at the festival, ZFF, in partnership with Nextbike, will provide a public bicycle system at all festival locations.
Ticket prices range from 3 euros (KinoKino, PLUS) to 5 euros (Main Program, Together Again, Network, The Great 5), and in presale, from 18 October to 5 November, the prices are 1 euro lower. Tickets can be purchased from 18 October until the end of the festival on the website kupiulaznicu.zff.hr. Ticket sales at the locations start on 4 November at the main festival box office in CineStar Branimir, and with the start of the festival also in cinemas SC (6 Nov), Kinoteka (7 Nov), and MSU (7 Nov).
Zagreb Film Festival is financially supported by the City Office for Culture, Intercity and International Cooperation and Civil Society, Croatian Audiovisual Center, Creative Europe — MEDIA sub-program, Kultura Nova, and the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb.