15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split: TCN’s Review

Total Croatia News

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Image: Mediterranean Film Festival Split/Facebook
Image: Mediterranean Film Festival Split/Facebook

From its official announcement a few months ago, until its opening ceremony last Thursday, June 16, the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split promised to carry out a more special edition this year compared to the previous ones. Reasons were not lacking –  after a couple of years conditioned by the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the 15th edition of one of the most important film festivals in Croatia gave the feeling that attendees would enjoy normality once again.

In the last 14 years, the Mediterranean Film Festival Split has been the most visited cultural event in Split, and each year it has been innovating more with the aim of continuing to position itself as one of the main film festivals in the region. This year, one of the main goals of Alen Munitić and the organizers was the promotion of emerging Croatian talents through the Croatian short film program, the first Children and Youth program, as well as the film showcase beyond the Mediterranean, with films from other parts of Europe, Asia, and Latin America.


Artistic Director of the Mediterranean Film Festival, Alen Munitić. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

Last night the official closing ceremony of the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split was held at the Bačvice Open-Air Cinema, where in addition to the screening of the British film ”Brian and Charles”, about an eccentric and lonely inventor and his new robot friend, there was also an award ceremony for the winners of the following prizes:

  • FMFS Hook for Best Official Competition Feature Film and 1.000 EUR in cash
  • FMFS Hook for Best Croatian Short Film and 15.000 HRK in cash
  • FMFS Hook for Script from Croatian Short Film Competition and 5.000 HRK in cash
  • Audience Award for Best Croatian Short Film and 5.000 HRK in cash
  • FMFS Hook for Best International Short Film and 1.000 EUR in cash
  • Audience Award for Best Feature Film from Out of Mediterranean and Latin American Competition and 1.000 EUR distribution support

Up next, we review what the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split and the award night left us.

A new venue

To be one of the most special editions, it is not enough to simply say it. Precisely, the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split brought novelties that demonstrated the intention of the organizers to continue positioning itself as one of the main events in the country to celebrate the seventh art. This year, a new venue joined the Bačvice Open-Air Cinema, the Kinoteka Zlatna Vrata at Diocletian’s Palace, and the Plato Doma Mladih: the Gripe Fortress, where attendees were able to enjoy the best of the Out of Mediterranean Competition film program, as well as films of the Latin American Feature Films Competition.


This year, the Gripe Fortress became the newest and fourth venue for the FMFS. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

Cinema for the youngest

Additionally, the 15th edition presented its children and youth program for the first time at the Kinoteka Zlatna Vrata, with the aim of encouraging a cinema passion for the little ones. Each film in the program aimed at a different age group, and in this way it sought to awaken a love for cinema in its young audience with international films such as ”Mamma Moo Finds Her Way Home” (Sweden, 2021), ”Comedy Queen” (Sweden, 2022) and ”Dear Future Children” (the UK, 2021).

The Croatian Short Films Competition

The 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split also sought to reinforce its commitment to supporting emerging Croatian cinema and showcasing young and talented Croatian filmmakers, presenting not only a great program of Croatian short films before each feature film shown at the Bačvice Open-Air Cinema but the Mediterranean Film Festival Split would also be the one to offer the largest cash prize in Croatia for a short film in its Croatian Short Films Competition. 


”A Moving Target”, dir. Marko Dugonjić

One of Total Croatia News’s favorite Croatian short films in the program was ”A Moving Target’‘ (Ne pogađa svaka), in which a pregnant Gaga, who lives in Gunja, must make a risky 60 km journey to Vinkovci to give birth, in the winter of 1993 and in the midst of wartime. Director Marko Dugonjić received a special mention for his short film.

The other one was ”Funeral” (Sprovod), which focuses on a young man from Split, Mario, who helps his father with the unpleasant tasks to be carried out after the death of his grandfather, with both disagreeing on the best way to honor his memory. The latter had a great night at the award ceremony, as director Šimun Šitum not only took home the award for Best Screenplay for a Croatian Short Film and 5,000 kunas in cash prize but also won the Audience Award for Best Croatian Short Film and other 5,000 kunas in cash prize. ”This film of very strong but subtle emotions, shows us skillfully and concisely deep family relationships authentic to this hard Balkan-Mediterranean region,”, explained the jury’s recognition for “Funeral”.


Director Šimun Šitum received two awards: Best Script for Croatian Short Film and the Audience Award for Best Croatian Short Film (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

The jury prize for Best Croatian Short Film went to ”Carpe Diem”, by director Filip Antonio Lizatović. ”Carpe Diem” shows the tensions between two neighbors and private landlords in a paradisiacal and quiet bay when one of them welcomes a group of young guests who are looking for nothing more than fun. Producer Maja Gros attended the awards ceremony, and in addition to receiving the 15,000 kuna cash prize, she took the opportunity to thank the jury and the public for their support and recognition. ”Because of his skillful play with the dynamics that maneuver the viewer’s attention, comic relationships between the characters, and satirical presentation of the challenges of the tourist season”, explained the jury regarding the award to ”Carpe Diem”.


Producer Maja Gros received the award for Best Croatian Short Film. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

The International Short Films Competition

In addition to an excellent program of Croatian short films, the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split also sought to bring its attendees closer to the best of the category in the Mediterranean region. Twelve international short films were chosen from more than 300 submitted and were screened at the Plato Doma Mladih, in addition to competing for the Best International Short Film and a prize of 1,000 euros in cash.

The winning short film for the Best International Short Film award was ”This is Not My Mom” (Esta no es mi madre), by director Javier Loarte. In a documentary format, the director deals with the difficulties of returning to his mother’s house. In a video shown on the big screen of Bačvice, director Javier Loarte thanked the jury and the public for the recognition. He also shared about the dark moments during the production of the film, that quickly vanished when his son was born, just a week after finishing the recordings, and who made an emotional appearance in his gratitude video.


Spanish director Javier Loarte received the Best International Short Film Award. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

Official Feature Films Competition

The official program showed the best of Mediterranean cinema from this and the past year. It should be noted that the nine films in the competition had their premiere in Croatia and competed for the Best Official Competition Feature Film and 1,000 euros in cash prize. The diverse program featured spectacular works from non-European countries such as ”Huda’s Salon” (Hudin salon), a Palestinian-Egyptian film, which was one of the main highlights for Total Croatia News. Renowned Palestinian director and two-time Oscar nominee Hany Abu-Assad tells the story of Reem, a young mother who finds herself between a rock and a hard place after being blackmailed by a secret agent of the occupying forces in Palestine with a compromising photograph. Without a doubt, a powerful feminist thriller, inspired by real events, that caught the attention of the entire audience.


”Huda’s Salon”, dir. Hany Abu Assad

Another of TCN’s favorites and a film that was one of the great sensations of the official competition program was the Spanish ”Piggy” (Cerdita), by director Carlota Pereda. The film is an ambitious thriller drama with great elements of horror, and it centers on young Sara, who in the middle of a hot summer in a small town in Andalusia, must endure constant abuse and bullying from her peers. When the appearance of a stranger threatens the tranquility of the town, Sara finds herself the only one capable of saving the lives of those who harassed her. Director Carlota Pereda made a special appearance on the day of the screening, and at the end of the film, she went up on stage to thank both the organizers and the audience for their warm reception and confessed her nerves as it was the first time she had premiered her film with a live audience.


Spanish director Carlota Pereda at the screening of her film ”Piggy”. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

Total Croatia News had a brief conversation with the Spanish director at the end of the film, who revealed her joy that “despite the difference in languages, the Mediterranean climate and environment helps the audience to connect with films from other parts of the region”. At last night’s award ceremony, Carlota Pereda received a special mention for ”Piggy”, and in a video shown on Bačvice’s big-screen she thanked everyone for the recognition.

The Audience Award for Best Film in the Official Competition went to ”Life Suits Me Well” (La vie me va bien), a Moroccan film by director Al Hadi Ulad-Mohand, who was present last night to receive the award and took the stage to thank the audience for their support. In a very honest and emotional way, and in his feature film debut, the Moroccan director tells the story of Fouad, the only worker in a post office, who lives in a small town in northern Morocco with his wife and three children, and who also teaches Spanish in his spare time. His good spirits and cheerful personality are suddenly affected when he learns that he suffers from a neurological disease, which will present a great challenge for the family as they try to maintain the dynamic between them.


Moroccan director Al Hadi Ulad-Mohand took home the Audience Award for Best Feature Film. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

Undoubtedly, the highlight of the festival and last night was the Croatian feature film ”Kick and Scream” (Baci se na pod), produced and directed by actress Nina Violić in her directorial debut, which opened the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split on June 16 in Bačvice and had a second screening the next day at the Kinoteka Zlatna Vrata. The Croatian film was the big winner of the Best Official Competition Feature Film Award and took home 1,000 EUR in cash prize. The esteemed Artistic Director of the Festival, Alen Munitić, presented the award to Nina Violić, who joyfully took to the stage to recognize the great work of Alen and the organizers after an excellent 15th edition of the Festival. Nina Violić stars alongside Goran Bogdan, Lee Delong, and Bruno Frketić Bajić in a film that portrays the last moments before the final breakup of marriage from the perspectives of a wife, husband, and their six-year-old son. ”Because of the creativity and innovative concept of finding objective truth and its relationship with human nature, through powerful and convincing acting. Fantastically portrayed the destructive power of subjective viewing of the story, as well as the depth of intimacy, as joyful as it is difficult if we are not honest with each other.”, the jury justifies its decision to award the grand prize to Nina Violić.


Actress, producer, and director Nina Violić won the Best Feature Film award for ”Kick and Scream”. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

A great closure

Alen Munitić took advantage of the great occasion to talk about another FMFS initiative, which is that in addition to making Split the capital of Mediterranean cinema for ten days, it also seeks to promote cinema and culture in different parts of Dalmatia through Kino Mediteran, with open-air cinemas in Bol, Hvar, Imotski, Jelsa, Komiža, Lastovo, Mljet, Supetar, Ploče, Podgora, Korčula, Omiš, Tribunj, Trogir and many other places.


The Bačvice Open-Air cinema. (Image: Mediterranean Film Festival/Facebook)

The 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split was a resounding success, with a spectacular film program including screenings at four venues, workshops, and more that put Split on the cultural map not only in Croatia but throughout the Mediterranean. The attendees were able to enjoy not only very good cinema with the participating feature films and short films, but they also enjoyed very good moments and the hot summer nights. Every night, after the screenings of the movies, a different DJ was in charge of putting together the party with very good music, and the attendees could enjoy dancing or at the bar drinking a Stella Artois, the official beer of the festival.

Definitely, there is nothing like a summer night in Bačvice, 100 meters from the sea, with the starry sky, the breeze on your face, and watching the best of Mediterranean cinema.

You can see more photos and videos of the 15th Mediterranean Film Festival Split on their official Facebook account.

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