15th Zagreb Film Festival Opens!

ZFF has begun! For the 15th time at Europa Cinema, a festive atmosphere accompanied the beginning of one of Zagreb’s most popular events, with a screening of the Swiss Oscar candidate film, The Divine Order by Petra Volpe.

Just before the screening which launched the festival’s line-up of films, the festival director Boris T. Matić said: “We have 14 editions of the festival which proudly carries the name of our city behind us. For this small anniversary, our 15th edition, we have again prepared over 100 films in many different categories. In our central program we are more engaged than ever: here, at our darling Europa, in the next nine days you will have a chance to see films focusing on women’s right to vote and right to abortion, migrants, LGBT community, consequences of PTSD and family environment. I should mention that many of this year’s films analyse these seemingly difficult topics in a way more suitable for broader audience.”

Cheerful atmosphere of the festival launch was additionally enhanced by the Albert Kapović Award, which this year went to Hrvoje Laurenta, the executive director of Zagreb Film Festival, the first president of the Croatian Independent Cinemas Network, and long-time manager of Europa, the cinema that last year, at the opening of the 14th ZFF, won the Europa Cinemas Award for best programming, the highest honour a European cinema can get.

“When I first came to this cinema, I was only little. My Mum took me on a trip to Zagreb to visit our relatives and we decided to go and see a film. It was Prince Coming to America with Eddie Murphy. Being used to Central Cinema in Split, I couldn’t stop staring at these stucco decorations, I found all this to be very mystical and I will never forget it,” said Laurenta in his acceptance speech, and added: “In 2007, when the City of Zagreb trusted us with the management of the cinema, it was not easy to attract audience or good titles, which were at that time very few on the market. However, dedicated and uncompromising work made Europa Cinema one of the most important cultural and artistic institutions in the region, and one of the most significant film-related institutions in Europe.”

As a reminder of ZFF’s 15 years of work, love and happiness, a short film composed of all the festival trailers was screened, summarising the festival history in 53 seconds, after which the screening of The Divine Order was introduced by actress Rachel Braunschweig, who won the Swiss National Film Award for best supporting role for this film.

The festival opening ceremony was attended by the director of BBC series McMafia James Watkins, who is having a masterclass on Monday, Spencer Hunt, the leading American expert in interactive entertainment and VR, Greek director Alexandros Avranas, the director of Love Me Not screened in Together Again, and the actress Eleni Roussineau, starring in the film, also known for her role in Miss Violence.

Another guest in Zagreb is Xavier Legrand, who is personally presenting his film Custody on Sunday at Europa Cinema, which earned him a Silver Lion in Venice for directing. Legrand is a famous French actor who started his career as an eight-year-old in Louis Malle’s classic Au Revoir Les Enfants.

At the opening ceremony the organisers thanked the institutions and sponsors without whose assistance Zagreb Film Festival would not be possible: City of Zagreb, i.e. City Office for Culture, Education and Sport, Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the general sponsor Croatian Telecom, Creative Europe – MEDIA Sub-programme, City of Zagreb Tourist Board, Croatian Film Directors’ Guild and European Parliament. Also they pointed out that this year’s cash prizes for ZFF winners will be ensured by Addiko Bank and thanked other sponsors and partners: Zagrebačka pivovara, FED, Kerschoffset, CARWIZ rental, Coca Cola, Hotel Dubrovnik, Croatian Television (HTV 3), Jutarnji list, Yammat, Tportal and other media partners.