TCN’s Michel Percan braves the searing heat to attend the opening of the 62nd Pula Film Festival.
While the ongoing heatwave threatened to melt even the stones of Arena, night slowly descended over this historical Roman theater where the opening ceremony of the Pula Film Festival was about to start. Vespasian’s stage was again filled to its capacity for the 62nd time, as befits the opening of the most famous film festival in the region, and beyond.
The introduction of the opening ceremony was led by the legendary Oliver Mlakar who was greeted with loud applause by the audience. After a few introductory speeches made by the representatives of this year’s festival, the audience had a unique chance to see the oldest documentary about the Film Festival in Pula, one from distant 1955. We realized quickly looking at the honest smiles and anticipation before a movie premiere on the faces of the long-gone residents of the City, how much has changed in all this years, realizing in return what this festival means to Pula and to the movie art. Something we today almost regulary forget in our daily lives. This touch of nostalgia and good memories brought a little cool down from the heat which has not significantly reduced even with the advent of night stars.
When Oliver called his final guest for the stage Mr. Branko Lustig, a High Representative of Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and a prominent Croatian film producer, the brief formalities of the ceremony were nearing their end.
“This festival successfully has passed so many years, but what is very important to us to keep close to our mind is that this festival is the main representative of Croatian film for over 20 years, ever since the famous 1995” – Lustig said implying the year that finally ended the homeland war in Croatia.
In the following week as many as 120 films will be shown in the various locations throughout the city, such as Cinema Valli and INK (Istrian National Theatre). Also, for the first time in Croatia as part of the international program the public will have opporutinuity to watch the world premiere of two films; Beside me (Serbia), directed by Stevan Filipović and Streetkids United II: The Girls from Rio (United Kingdom, Netherlands, Brazil), directed by Marie Clare. These films decided to start theirs cinematic journey on screens around the world in Pula, showing a huge future potential of this Festival and a great respect that it posses within the international film crews and directors.
With so much competition it is difficult to determine the favorites, but the most prominent favorite for the Golden Arena this year would certainly be “Zvizdan” directed by Dalibor Matanić, who recently won the Cannes – with the Grand Jury Prize for best film program. The film once again emphasizes the triumph of love over the inter-ethnic conflicts that were bloody carved in the Balkan rocks. Its domestic premiere Croatians and their guest will have the opportunity to see on the last day of the festival, a sort of finale from 21:30 hours.
Before, at the 17 hours on the same day at Cinema Valli, with a free entrance to all as part of the International Program a movie “Simindis Kundzuli” (Corn Island) from Georgia will be shown. It tells a interesting story of old man and his young grand-daughter who decide to grow corn on thieir small island. But as it happens to often in todays world, a war changes everything, threatening the innocence of life and dreams. As critics praise, it is something that a true movie lover would just have to come and see. Specially when we know the city cinema has air conditioning.