This Sunday, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, the 94th edition of the Academy Awards will be held, celebrating the best of the film industry in 2021. In recent years, the role of international cinema in the film industry has been growing progressively. This was evident at the 92nd Academy Awards, where the Oscar for Best International Feature Film was awarded for the first time, replacing the previously named Best Foreign Language Film. More importantly, it was the fact that it was the first time that a non-English language film had won the prestigious Oscar for Best Picture. This was the case of ‘Parasite’, from South Korea, directed by Bong Joon-ho, who also won the statuettes for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.
It seems that, in this last decade, the Academy has decided to reorient its vision of cinema towards a more globalized one, in which we can notice the presence of international films in different categories, thus nominating films, directors, actors, actresses, and scripts from all over the world.
Unfortunately, it could not be the year for Croatian cinema again as it failed to find a place among the best international films. No Croatian film has ever been nominated for Best International Film yet. This year, in particular, saw quite a bit of controversy in the selection process, after ”Murina”, directed by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, was not chosen by Croatia as its representative in the race for the Oscars, despite its enormous international recognition at festivals such as Cannes, where it won the Caméra d’Or for Best First Film. Instead, the Croatian candidate was ‘‘Tereza37’’, directed by Danilo Šerbedžija.
The Pula Film Festival, one of the most important Croatian film festivals. (Photo: www.pulafilmfestival.hr)
The road for Croatian filmmakers to the world’s major film festivals is long and very competitive, but in recent years the international public has set its sights on this region of the continent, due to its richness in stories stemming from its turbulent past and present. The Bosnian film ”Quo Vadis, Aida?”, nominated in 2021, and the Macedonian film ”Honeyland”, nominated in 2019, are proof of this.
But despite the fact that the dream of every director is to show their stories to all corners of the world, it always starts here, at home. Many start out at student film festivals, or at film festivals organized by their towns or counties. If one investigates enough, they would realize that there are film festivals almost everywhere in Croatia. The Croatian Audiovisual Center, for instance, currently co-finances 60 Croatian film festivals and other audiovisual events. These Croatian film festivals serve various functions: they are particularly important for promoting Croatian audiovisual creation and serve as a platform for screening artistic content and non-commercial film forms, which makes them relevant on a local, regional, national, and, in some cases, international level.
In this article, we review ten Croatian film festivals with great recognition and importance not only for aspiring filmmakers but also for a large audience willing to enjoy good Croatian cinema. Many of these festivals also include workshops and special events for aspiring filmmakers. Pay close attention to the dates of these Croatian film festivals, you may still be in time to buy your ticket, or even submit your own movie or short film!
Zagreb Film Festival
Zagreb (23 – 30 October, 2022 | 20th Edition)
Zagreb Film Festival is one of the central and most visited cultural events and the largest among the Croatian film festivals. It is held during November in Zagreb and presents to its audience the best of newer independent international and local film production. From its beginnings, ZFF’s mission is to discover and promote contemporary independent film and debut films of directors from all over the world. For almost two decades, it has offered a festival, and later also a distribution platform, and it has screened works that are often left out of the programs of multiplex cinemas.
The festival has also played a key role in educating generations of audiences who enjoy film art. The festival program offers diverse film and educational content for all ages and interests, and serves as a platform for the networking of professionals: each edition of the festival gathers around 200 film experts from Croatia and around the world who come to Zagreb to present their films or participate in the festival’s educational programs.
Split Film Festival – International Festival of New Film
Split (1 – 9 September, 2022 | 27th Edition)
Photo: Split Film Festival/Facebook
The Split Film Festival – International Festival of New Film focuses on new, creative, experimental, radical, and subversive films, videos, and new media works. It screens all forms and genres, with a special focus on works diverging from the mainstream film and video production model, regardless of whether it concerns traditional filmmaking techniques or the use of the most recent digital technology.
The competition programme is divided into two parts: feature films and shorts. The festival’s side programme presents web projects, interactive works, performances, special programmes, and retrospectives of local and international filmmakers.
Pula Film Festival
Pula (16 – 23 July, 2022 | 69th Edition)
Pula Film Festival is one of the oldest ongoing film festivals in Europe and the world. Launched in 1954 as the main festival of Yugoslav films, Pula Film Festival became Croatia’s national film festival in 1992. Its main competition programme includes feature fiction films. Alongside other city locations, the festival’s programme takes place in Pula’s amphitheater, popularly called the Arena. It is organized by the Pula Film Festival public institution.
STIFF – Student International Film Festival
Rijeka (November 25 – 28, 2022 | 9th Edition)
STIFF is Croatia’s first International Film Festival dedicated entirely to student films. Established by the SKC Rijeka (Student Cultural Center) and Filmaktiv – the purpose of the festival is to strengthen the student film industry by allowing an insight into the work of other fellow student filmmakers, encouraging the development of new ideas, and establishing international collaborations in the field of media production. STIFF’s main goal is to present the best of student film production from all around the world and help them get their audiences. It strives to educate audiences about the quality of work of emerging filmmakers.
Mediterranean Film Festival Split
Split (16 – 25 June, 2022 | 15th Edition)
Mediterranean Film Festival Split takes place annually in June in the city of Split, the second-largest city in Croatia. The Festival’s focus are feature and short fiction and documentary films from Mediterranean countries. Besides feature films, great attention is dedicated to the program of short films and the promotion of young authors and their work. The Festival also organizes lectures, workshops, exhibitions, and other side events. In 12 years of its existence, the Festival has become the most visited cultural event in the city of Split. Kino Mediteran project is also part of the FMFS. It is a network of cinemas in 30 small Croatian coastal towns, mostly on islands.
Croatian Film Days
Zagreb (10 – 14 May, 2022 | 31st Edition)
The Croatian Film Days are a national festival founded in 1991 devoted to showcasing Croatia’s annual production of short- and medium-length feature, documentary, experimental, animated, and commercial films. The festival is of a competitive nature, with awards handed out by the festival jury, members of the Croatian Film Critic’s Association, and the audience. The organizer is the Croatian Film Association.
Motovun Film Festival
Motovun (26 – 30 July, 2022 | 25th Edition)
The Motovun Film Festival is dedicated to films made within small film industries and by independent productions. The programme consists of feature and short fiction and documentary films. The festival is jointly organized by the Motovun Film Festival, the Istria County, and the Municipality of Motovun.
Vukovar Film Festival – Danube region film festival
Vukovar (Summer, 2022 | 16th Edition)
Vukovar Film Festival screens films from the Danube and neighboring countries – Slovenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Moldavia, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, and Ukraine. It is the only festival that takes place literally on the Danube. The competition programme accepts feature, short fiction, and documentary films, and the jury hands out awards for all three categories. The festival is organized by Discovery Film, the City of Vukovar, and the Croatian House of Vukovar.
Zagreb (3 – 10 April, 2022 | 18th Edition)
Photo: ZagrebDox © Julien Duval
ZagrebDox is an international documentary film festival launched in 2005. The Festival is intended to provide audiences and experts insight into the recent documentary films, stimulate national documentary production, and boost international and regional cooperation in co-productions. The festival’s competition program has international and regional categories. Besides the competition program, ZagrebDox has a number of non-competition programs – retrospectives and films focused on specific subjects, genres, techniques, and esthetics.
Brač Film Festival
Brač (Summer, 2022 | 8th Edition)
Brač Film Festival is an international feature film festival for emerging filmmakers from Europe and the Mediterranean. Key goals of the Festival are promotion of the first time feature film directors, presentation of short student films, development of film literacy amongst children and youth, and connecting young film professionals with experienced ones. The short film program is the only competition program, where the audience gives prizes for the best short film.
Learn about other Croatian film festivals at the Croatian Audiovisual Centre official website HERE.
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