The 14th Zagreb Film Festival is over!

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The fourteenth Zagreb Film Festival closed recently with a screening of Canadian director David Cronenberg’s iconic film “Crash”; while on Sunday many of the award-winning films were still being screened. The most talked about film at the festival was the jury’s special mention winner “Quit staring at my plate” by Hana Jušić.

The film tackles the social situation in today’s Croatia that is not improving. It seems to be something our filmmakers will find an interesting topic for some time to come; while films of this kind will continue to garner international rewards. Although it’s a fictional view of life, it gives the world an opportunity to see Croatia in a different light.

The top festival prize went to the Egyptian film “Conflict”, by director Mohamed Diab, as the jury reasoned that this amazingly impressive and exceptionally powerful major film, celebrating the cooperation of diverse people, deserved the Golden Pram.

Maysaloun Hamoud

Meanwhile, the Israeli-French film “In Between”, directed by Maysaloun Hamoud, received a special mention from the jury. For the best short, the Golden Pram went to the British film “Balcony” by Toby Fell-Holden; while a special mention was given to Romanian film maker Cecilia Ştefănescu’s “Ferdinand 13”.

The best film in the Checkered Program went to “Baby Tooth” by Saša Ban; with a special mention awarded to “Milk and Honey” by Marko Jukić and “13+” by Nikica Zdunić.

Clash

It’s interesting to note how the film “Clash” won the grand prize because the action takes place on the streets of Cairo in a police van that is transporting a group of people caught in the ongoing greater conflict and demonstrations taking place outside. It is only then that we become aware that the people in the van are also divided into supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and those who are opposed to it.

We also learn through this forced claustrophobia that the soldiers are also conflicted between their own humanity and their military duties and who are also losing their lives in the process. In one scene we learn the identity of a soldier opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood who is forced to hide his Christian faith by concealing a cross tattooed on his arm. Later on, in order to survive, he is forced to hide his army uniform.

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The film attempts to clarify the meaning of “collateral damage”, such as children and young men and women who in the ensuing chaos are trying to survive; while wishing for things to be normal, they still end in tragedy because there is no salvation.

The film illustrates how simply an ideology can lead to total destruction. The film in a way depicts a society in which nobody has a chance.

For example, the first scene unfolds with a journalist being handcuffed, while the cameraman — the photographer — is claustrophobic. With this, the film symbolically portrays journalists as having their hands tied and who all live in fear of ending up in prison. If there is no freedom for the media, there is no voice for the people. What is striking about the film is the constant feeling of unbearable tension and helplessness.

It could be said that the film leaves an indelible impression as it is viewed from the position of the common man. Since there is no main character to follow, all are equal in their ruin as the action builds from within the police van.

At first we are shown an empty van, and slowly it fills up. They begin with the representatives of the media who are being prevented from reporting the clashes taking place on the streets of Egypt, and then with others.

It’s not so much an original idea from the standpoint of filming in a van and the intimate and almost psychotic and insane atmosphere. It inevitably creates an unavoidable conflict and a strong sense of powerlessness.

A similar film was made in 2009 called “Lebanon” which follows four Israeli soldiers riding in a tank. Since it was filmed in a tank the atmosphere is also psychotic and claustrophobic but with all the turmoil of war added on. That film, as well as “Clash”, leaves the viewer feeling completely powerless and helpless. While the dilemma in “Lebanon” is kill or be killed, in Clash it’s either survive or die for your beliefs.

In the end, it all boils down to the fact that none of the characters are heroes. None of them have a death wish but in the social chaos that ensues no-one has a chance.

200, 33, 13, 10 

ZFF

14. The Zagreb Film Festival 2016 attracted about 200 luminaries during the nine-day festival, and screened over a hundred films at six different venues throughout the city. For the Golden Pram a total of 33 films competed: 13 international features and 10 shorts, while the domestic Checkered competition saw 10 entries vying for the Golden Pram.

ZFF hosted domestic teams from films like “Trampoline”, by Katarina Zrinka Matijević, as well as films made as Croatian co-productions: “Liberation of Skopje” by Rade and Danilo Šerbedžija, as well as “House of Others” by Rusudan Glurjidze. Among the festival guests were the director of “Name: Dobrica, surname: Unknown”, by Srđa Penezić, as well as the film’s cast – Slavko Štimac, Bogdan Diklić and Hana Selimović.

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The Industry Program hosted a number of professionals from the world of film. Among them, the renowned screenwriter Tony Grisoni, one of the writers of the popular HBO series “The Young Pope”; representatives from HBO, like Steve Matthews and Gabor Kriegler; as well as several European officials and the directors of several Canadian national film boards that participated in the event called “This is How WE do it!”, marking the 25th anniversary of the Sub-program MEDIA.

Also in attendance was the coordinator of the LUX Prize and a former member of the European Parliament Doris Pack, Niombo Lomba from the European Commission, Isabel Castro from Eurimages and others.