The network of festivals in the adriatic region at the 19th ZFF

After the Festival’s spring edition in the Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region, a special regional festival started at the initiative of Sarajevo Film Festival, a fruitful collaboration continues this fall at the 19th Zagreb Film Festival with a special program consisting of a selection of the currently best European films and one remastered Yugoslav classic.

The program consists of six recent European films presented and awarded at the latest film festivals in Cannes, Berlin, and Sundance. With the aim of promoting our common cultural heritage, a special place in our selection is given to the classic The Fourteenth Day by Zdravko Velimirović, one of the first Yugoslav films shown in the main selection in Cannes and which was in the running for the prestigious Palme d’Or. A film about four inmates who get temporary release from prison due to good behavior was a success with critics and audience alike, and the screenplay was written (under a pseudonym) by Velimirović’s close friend and later famous writer Borislav Pekić, a former inmate himself.

The program also features two films from the current selection for the European Film Awards. Among them is Brother’s Keeper by Turkish director Ferit Karahan, which already won the FIPRESCI Award at Berlinale. Described as a mixture of Oliver Twist and The Death of Mr Lazarescu, the film follows 12-year-old Yusuf and his best friend, wards of a Turkish boarding school for Kurdish boys who are left to the good will of the cold-hearted school board in the solitude of snow-covered mountains. Also in the running for the EFA is Natural Light, a Berlinale Silver Bear winner for Best Director, a brutal drama by Hungarian director Dénes Nagy about the endurance and mental toil of war influenced by the visual heritage of A. Tarkovsky.

Small Body, the film debut by Italian director Laura Samani, which premiered at Critic’s Week in Cannes, is a mystical fairy tale about grieving, death, and healing based on old traditional beliefs in the Alps. There’s also the Belgian film The Enemy inspired by a true story which divided public opinion when a dead mistress was found in the hotel room of a well-known politician a few years ago. Alma Jodorowsky, the granddaughter of the legendary Alejandro Jodorowsky, (Blue is the Warmest Color) plays the politician’s wife.

Human Factors by Ronny Trocker, an Italian director from Bruxelles, shown at Sundance and Berlinale, is an incisive study of a family breakdown told through an intriguing cat-and-mouse story. The program also features German Lessons by Pavel G. Vesnakov, one of the most successful young Bulgarian directors, known for his provocative realistic films which deal with social decay and interpersonal relationships. In his film debut, Vesnakov tells us a story about a 50-year-old driver Nikola who is only a day away from finishing his probation, after which he intends to start a new life in Germany. His decision to move confronts him with difficult questions of lost identity, the past, and cutting off roots.

The first joint regional film festival the Network of Festivals in the Adriatic Region combined four festivals from four countries – Sarajevo Film Festival (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Auteur Film Festival (Serbia), Herceg Novi Film Festival (Montenegro), and Zagreb Film Festival (Croatia) – in the hopes that the coronavirus pandemic does not stop films from reaching their audience. Each of the four festivals in the Network will have a special program, and the best films will be chosen by the audience from all four countries. By tallying audience votes, the best film will be awarded with the Adriatic Audience Award which will be presented to the winner at Auteur Film Festival in Belgrade.