Six intriguing titles presented by the Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region

This year’s accompanying program of the Zagreb Film Festival, the Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region, once again presents a series of intriguing European achievements. Among the six films featured in the program is the Scandinavian psychological thriller Copenhagen Does Not Exist, in which one of the roles is played by Danish-Croatian actor and European Film Academy award winner Zlatko Burić. A special treat for film enthusiasts is the screening of the digitally restored classic Life of a Shock Force Worker by Bato Čengić, which arrives at the 21st ZFF shortly after being shown at the jubilee Film Festival in Venice.

The program of the Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region will present two powerful European thrillers this year. Power by Slovak director Mátyás Prikler, which premiered at the International Film Festival in Rotterdam, is a political thriller inspired by a real event that shook Slovakia in 2009. The film revolves around an unsolved murder, involving members of the political elite, the grieving family of the victim, a corrupt policeman, and a fixer from the intelligence service.

Copenhagen Does Not Exist by Danish filmmaker Martin Skovbjerg, is a dark love story and disturbing psychological thriller written by Eskil Vogt, the screenwriter of The Worst Person in the World (ZFF 2021). A young woman named Ida disappears without a trace. Three months later, her boyfriend Sander agrees to an unusual arrangement – he will allow her father and brother to lock him in an apartment and subject him to questioning. Details about the strange and unconventional lifestyle of the two lovers soon come to light. Croatian actor and last year’s member of the ZFF jury, Zlatko Burić (Triangle of Sadness, ZFF 2022), takes on the role of the father!

From the Horizons program of the Venice Film Festival, ZFF brings a humorous and sharp-witted film about fathers and sons, Luxembourg, Luxembourg by Ukrainian filmmaker Antonio Lukich. Critics have compared his direction to the works of Martin Scorsese. From the Locarno Film Festival, along with an award for Best Acting (Renée Soutendijk), comes Sweet Dreams by Ena Sendijarević (Take Me Somewhere Nice, ZFF 2019), a merciless satire on European colonialism.

The foundations of modern society are turned upside down in a relentless and uproarious pseudo-documentary about the contemporary Greek tragedy Black Stone directed by Spiros Jacovides. While filming a documentary about the “missing” employees in the Greek public service, two filmmakers meet Haroula, a desperate mother in search of her son Panos, one of the missing. When he is suspected of fraud, Haroula, accompanied by the documentarians and their camera, embarks on a mission to clear Panos’s name of any wrongdoing.

As part of the Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region program, Life of a Shock Force Worker by Bato Čengić will be screened. This digitally restored gem of Yugoslav cinema, often ranked at the pinnacle of the Black Wave movement, has never been shown in cinemas in the former Yugoslavia. The film is a sharp satire inspired by the ideological figure and life of miners who, in the early years of socialist Yugoslavia, were celebrated as national heroes. The director of photography is the esteemed Slovenian director and cinematographer Karpo Godina, under whose expert supervision the restoration of the image and sound was carried out.

The Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region is a regional festival founded in 2021. Five festivals from five countries come together in this joint venture – the Sarajevo Film Festival (BiH), Auteur Film Festival (Serbia), Montenegro Film Festival (Montenegro), Ljubljana International Film Festival (Slovenia) and Zagreb Film Festival (Croatia). As part of its third edition, each of the five festivals will hold a special program, and the best films will be voted on by the audience from all five countries. The Adriatic Audience Award will be presented to the best film according to the audience’s choice, and it will be awarded to the recipient at the end of the year at the Auteur Film Festival in Belgrade.