The 21st ZFF Approaches

Another exciting autumn is ahead of us in Zagreb, and the reason we are particularly looking forward to it is the Zagreb Film Festival. The largest cinematic adventure in Zagreb will take place for the 21st time from 6 to 12 November at five locations (Tuškanac cinema, Student Center cinema, Kinoteka, as well as MSU and Dokukino KIC), and online. A part of the rich film selection at ZFF will also be showcased in various cinemas across Croatia as part of the ZFF Travels program.

The international feature-length competition includes some of the most intriguing recent debut and sophomore works from around the world. Among them is one of the most prominent recent debut films, which has continued to captivate critics and audiences since its premiere at Sundance – the subtle and nuanced romantic drama about fateful encounters, Past Lives by Canadian-Korean author Celine Song. Additionally, there’s the feature debut by Jasna Nanut, the comedy Seventh Heaven, which follows the charming adulterer (Krešimir Mikić) through a series of tragicomic attempts to confess his affair to his wife (Iva Mihalić). The film Seventh Heaven was developed at ZFF’s My First Script workshop. 

The film Excursion is also competing for the Golden Pram, and we eagerly anticipate the feature debut of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian author based in Paris, Una Gunjak (known for The Chicken, which received the European Film Award for Best Short Film in 2014). The film follows Sarajevo teenager Iman (Asja Zara Lagumdžija), whose seemingly harmless lie leads her into the center of a school scandal. The realization of this important story, honored in Locarno with a Special Mention in the Concorso Cineasti del Presente program, is described by the author as “an impulse and obligation she felt as a woman in her mid-thirties untangling the knots of her sexual upbringing, as a Bosnian observing today’s youth, and ultimately, as a feminist.” The Croatian co-producer of Excursion is Nukleus Film.

The hilarious satire on contemporary work culture, full-day shifts, and the ethics of “working to make ends meet,” titled Do Not Expect Too Much of the End of the World by the famous Romanian director Radu Jude, has been included in the Together Again program. “Witty and full of anger, this deranged film might be the sanest creation of the year,” writes Variety. Jude’s new film is a minority Croatian co-production (Kinorama, Ankica Jurić – Tilić) with the involvement of Croatian professionals, composers Jura Ferina and Pavao Miholjević, as well as sound engineer Hrvoje Radnić. It received a Special Mention in the Concorso Internazionale program at Locarno.

In the Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region program, we are watching the film Sweet Dreams, which was awarded for the Best Actress Performance (Renée Soutendijk) at Locarno. It’s the second feature film by the Bosnian-Herzegovinian director based in the Netherlands, Ena Sendijarević, whose debut film Take Me Somewhere Nice was featured in the main program of the 17th Zagreb Film Festival. This merciless satire of lavish aesthetics, which the director describes as a “nightmare fairy tale,” is set in Indonesia and follows the disintegration of a sugar plantation owner’s family in the final days of Dutch colonial rule.

In addition to feature-length films, the competitive program of ZFF includes the international and national short film competition (Checkers). Numerous accompanying programs at ZFF will provide plenty of reasons for autumn film gatherings. Besides the previously mentioned Together Again and Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region, there are LUX, Festivals in the Spotlight, KinoKino, and PLUS, designed for the younger generation of cinephiles. For film professionals and all those interested in a behind-the-scenes look at the art of cinema, ZFF offers the rich Industry program, which includes masterclasses, a series of workshops, and a pitching forum.