The 17th Zagreb Film Festival opened

The 17th Zagreb Film Festival opened Thursday in Zagreb’s Lauba with the French film Alice and the Mayor by Nicolas Pariser. In its longest edition yet, ZFF brings more than a hundred films in twenty programs and the best selection of recent independent international and domestic film production, with special emphasis on debut and second films of authors from all over the world.

“After eleven beautiful years in Europa Cinema, unfortunately, we are in exile. That home of many festivals, including ZFF, is closed. We all knew what was happening with the cinema five months ago, but nobody knows what is happening now,” the festival’s director Boris T. Matić said at the beginning of the opening ceremony in front of a packed Lauba.

The festival’s executive producer, Hrvoje Laurenta, stressed that the documents for the renovation of the Europa Cinema should have been drawn up by now, but, as can be read in the media, that has not happened yet. “The cinema is decaying, it is empty, and its entrance serves as a storage and parking space, which is why I urge you all to question the future of that cinema in hopes of opening it once again,” he warned.

Due to these new circumstances, the Festival is taking place over a record of eleven days in order to present everything planned, which is why this year’s edition is also the longest one yet with as much more films and events, but also with the heart in the right place, regardless of the loss of the Europa Cinema, Zagreb’s oldest and most beautiful cinema.

Matić also stressed this year’s Festival is the most diverse one yet in terms of genre: “We have drama, comedy, action, and even a horror film, and films competing are all bold authorial world views of directors who have created their first or second feature film.” He also touched upon this year’s new programs: “We are dealing with the question of exile, honoring deceased directors, marking 30 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and we are taking you on a journey from South America to Australia through film.”

Matić announced eleven days packed with screenings, lectures, presentations, hanging out and good fun, and for the first indicatively-titled festival screening, Alice and the Mayor, in which a young philosopher tries to help a long-term mayor exit his existential crisis, he added that “all similarities with real-life events are purely coincidental”.

The film, honored with the Europa Cinemas Label, the most prestigious award in the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, was presented in Zagreb by one of the actors Pascal Rénéric, while the director Nicolas Pariser told the Zagreb audience through a video-message that his film talks about the political situation in France, but that citizens of the world can relate to it.

“With hopes the neon sign in Varšavska 3 will glow once again,” Matić and Laurenta opened the 17th ZFF.

The Croatian Producers’ Association traditionally presented the Albert Kapović Award for exceptional contribution to the development and promotion of Croatian film. This year’s winner, Jadranka Hrga, head of the Department of Film Production and Complementary Activities of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, thanked her colleagues, with special mention of the Centre’s first CEO, after which the award is named, and with whom she collaborated from the earliest days of the institution.