Birthday Film Time Machine: Best of ZFF Documentaries

Did you know that documentary films, which were mostly presented in ZFF’s retrospectives the last few years, have competed for the Golden Pram award for 13 full years? The program ZFF’s Best Documentaries which the festival will present in its anniversary edition will take us back to the time when this film genre was part of the main festival program. Up until the 12th Zagreb Film Festival in 2014, when the festival program completely turned to feature and short films, documentaries were part of the main competition program and some of the world’s best docs had their Croatian premieres at ZFF. The program includes 5 documentaries awarded with the Golden Pram or special mention in the documentary film category.

In the film  Me, My Gipsy family and Woody Allen (2009) the then 19-year-old Romani director Laura Halilović used a small, amateur film camera to document the past and present of her family which moved to Italy from Bosnia and Herzegovina at the end of the 1970’s. This intimate documentary combines scenes from everyday life with the family’s archival footage, revealing an unknown world of a community which rarely opens to strangers. The film was awarded with the Golden Pram for best documentary film at ZFF 2010.

In the film Slaughter Nick for President (2012), best documentary film at ZFF 2012, Canadian TV actor Rob Stewart makes a surprising change in his career full of drastic ups and downs. Namely, after more than 20 years of work in the industry, the former CBS star is forced to admit defeat and return to his parents in Ontario. However, he unexpectedly discovered that there is a place where he is still wildly popular – in Serbia! Rob decides to travel to this Balkan state, where he learns his long-forgotten series Tropical Heat is the most popular series in the history of Serbian television, and his character – a detective with a ponytail and beach playboy Nick Slaughter – became a symbol of freedom and democracy of the student movement which led to Milošević’s fall.

Karpotrotter (2013) by Slovenian director Matjaž Ivanišin is an homage to the great Yugoslav filmmaker Karpo Godina. By following the journey through the remote landscapes of Vojvodina undertaken in the 1970’s by the then young Godina with his 8mm camera, Ivanišin creates a gentle road movie and a touching film meditation on the passage of time, local culture and inhabitants of rural Vojvodina. The film won the Golden Pram for best documentary at ZFF 2014.

In the documentary awarded by the Golden Pram in 2013, The Captain and his Pirate (2012), director Andy Wolff analyzes a story which made sensationalist headlines in 2009, a story about a German container ship which was seized by Somali pirates and held the crew captive for four months. After they were freed, all the newspapers showed a captain happy to have escaped the barbarians. But Wolff decides to give voice to the protagonists themselves, captain Krysztof Kotiuk and the young pirate leader Adaho, and discovers that things are not black and white.

Old Partner (2008) by South Korean director Lee Chung Ryoul follows a couple of 80-year-old married farmers and their unbreakable bond with an ox, an animal which has helped them every day for the last 40 years. They spend all seasons working, either by plowing and preparing the soil for sowing or gathering wood for winter. Both elderly and aware their time together is inevitably reaching its end, husband and wife find out their beloved animal has cancer. The film won the special mention at the 7th ZFF.