The 2019 Human Rights Film Festival, which is among the most anticipated film festivals in Zagreb, Croatia, begins this evening Sunday, December 1st. While this festival is bereft of glamour, red carpets or big festival hype; HRFF offers a carefully curated selection of the most noteworthy art films from recent world festivals. Here are our top 10 recommended films, all with English subtitles. They are organized by date and time, from today December 1, 2019 through next Sunday. Links to additional information and film trailers are included.
Admission is free and tickets are available at Kino tuškanac 1 hour before the film showing or 18-19h on each day of the festival (01.12 – 08.12).
Honeyland (UPDATE: No more tickets for Sunday 01.12. Another showing Monday 02.12 at 17:00)
Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov • North Macedonia • 2019 • 87′
Sunday 01.12. • 19:00 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
Situated in an isolated mountainous region deep within the Balkans, Hatidze Muratova lives with her ailing mother in a village without roads, electricity or running water. She’s the last in a long line of Macedonian wild beekeepers, making a living farming honey in small batches to sell in the closest city, a mere four hours’ walk away. Hatidze’s peaceful existence is thrown into upheaval upon the arrival of an itinerant family, along with their roaring engines, seven rambunctious children and herd of cattle. Hatidze optimistically meets the promise of change with an open heart, offering her hospitality, brandy and beekeeping advice. This fascinating documentary had its world premiere at the Sundance Festival, where it received the award for Best International Documentary.
Just Don’t Think I’ll Scream
(Samo nemojte pomisliti da vrištim)
Frank Beauvais • France • 2019 • 75’
Monday 02.12. • 21:30 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
After his relationship ended in 2016, 45-year-old Frank Beauvais found himself all alone in a small village near France’s eastern border with no job and no prospects. Lost within himself and intimidated by the world around him, he found solace in the screen, watching four to five films a day. It was here that he began to work on an audio-visual diary, which he put together by editing shots of the movies he devoured.
He then combines a cinematic collage from these films with his intimate diary, in which he incidentally responds to current events in France (a series of terrorist attacks), vividly illustrating the state of general crisis, intimate and social.
The Trial of Ratko Mladić
(Suđenje Ratku Mladiću)
Henry Singer, Rob Miller • UK, Norway • 2018 • 99’
Tuesday 03.12. • 17:00 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
Twenty-five years ago, Europe was shocked by appalling images of the concentration camps and mass graves in former Yugoslavia. The Bosnian War cost the lives of around 100,000 innocent people. In 2012, almost exactly 20 years after that bloody conflict started, the trial of the Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladić began at the Yugoslavia tribunal in The Hague. The crimes he was accused of included leading the siege of Sarajevo and murdering 7,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica.
Filmmakers Rob Miller and Henry Singer shed light on the war from two perspectives. Not only do they speak to public prosecutors and visit victims and witnesses; they also interview Mladić’s lawyers, supporters and family members, who consider him a patriotic hero. In addition to telling the stories of victims and witnesses, the film raises questions about the international tribunal itself—and whether it’s possible to achieve justice by a five-year trial. It won’t bring back the dead and the accused refused to accept the verdict. Shocking, potent images from archive news footage remind us of the absurd and gratuitous cruelty of this dirty war, whose battles are still not finished.
Shengze Zhu • USA, Hong Kong • 2019 • 124′
Wednesday 04.12. • 16:30 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
The Chinese documentary ‘Present.Perfect’, which won the award for Best Picture at the esteemed Rotterdam Film Festival, is made up of often-incredible live streaming footage collected by Shengze Zhu over nine months. The film offers us a fascinating insight into contemporary Chinese society through a series of eccentric characters, mostly marginal people, who have an online presence which is often their only form of communication with others. The phenomenon of online streaming everything from the most boring everyday jobs to pure exhibitionism has garnered so much momentum that censors in China intervened.
Cold Case Hammarskjöld
(Zaboravljeni slučaj Hammarskjöld)
Mads Brügger • Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium • 2019 • 128′
Thursday 05.12. • 19:00 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
The new film by Danish director Mads Brugger (‘The Ambassador’) is sure to be a crowd pleaser within this year’s HRFF program. The film has already been screened at the Rab Film Festival, and is an exciting, shocking and entertaining documentary which addresses colonialism and racism in Africa. He addresses these topics through an investigation into the case of the death of United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld in a mysterious plane crash in 1961. While investigating the conspiracy, which led to the sudden death of an influential politician and diplomat, and freedom fighter for African countries, the director reveals an even more horrific narrative, which changed history.
Sergej Loznica • Netherlands, Latvia • 2019 • 135’
Friday 06.12. • 16:30 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
Sergei Loznica, a highly awarded Ukrainian documentary filmmaker, dissects the personality cult phenomenon in a new film by combining archival footage of Stalin’s five-day funeral ceremony. The fascinating color shots are a testimony of a specific time in history, and Loznica’s ironic commentary accompanies the tears, flowers, warm words and expressions of respect which hide millions of dead, subjugated and starved to death. The footage of this magnificent ritual also served as an unequivocal critique of Vladimir Putin, another personality cult that has been taking shape in Russia for years.
Pedro Costa • Portugal • 2019 • 124’
Friday 06.12. • 19:00 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
Portuguese director Pedro Costa’s new film ‘Vitalina Varela’ premiered at the Locarno Festival, where he won the Golden Leopard for Best Picture and the Best Actress Award. Costa’s film has brilliant visuals, but it’s style and form require a patient viewer. Vitalina Varela is a middle-aged widow from Cape Verde who, after her husband’s death, goes to the Lisbon slum where he lived for years. Vitalina is Costa’s muse, which he introduced in his 2014 movie ‘A Horse Called Money’.
End of the Century
Lucio Castro • Argentina • 2019 • 83′
Friday 06.12. • 21:30 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
Few films have captured the fleeting and enduring nature of an intimate connection as poignantly as “End of the Century.” The elegant film, which revolves around two men who meet on a Barcelona balcony, has a lingering emotional effect. “End of the Century” gives voice to a seemingly indescribable feeling, one that anyone who’s ever fallen in love will recognize. Written and directed by Argentinian filmmaker Lucio Castro in his feature debut, “End of the Century” follows lush romances like “Weekend” and “Call Me by Your Name,” and will certainly endure as one of the most evocative gay films of the decade.
Heimat is a Space in Time
(Heimat je prostor od vremena)
Thomas Heise • Germany, Austria • 2019 • 218′
Sunday 08.12. • 15:00 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
This acclaimed documentary, by the great German filmmaker Thomas Heise, was awarded Best Film in the Forum at the Berlin Festival. This is historical essay offers insight into 100 years of German history through the prism of the author’s complex genealogy. Beginning with World War I, through Nazi rule, and living in East Germany until the fall of the Berlin Wall; Heise shares her rich family heritage and questions her beliefs on homeland and identity.
The Painted Bird
Václav Marhoul • Czechia, Ukraine, Slovakia • 2019 • 170′
Sunday 08.12. • 20:00 • kino Tuškanac • Zagreb
The Czech film ‘The Painted Bird’ by director Václav Marhúl, based on the novel by Jerzy Kosinski, is arguably the most controversial film of the year. The film starring Stellan Skarsgård, Harvey Keitel and Udo Kier, is spoken in a fictitious pan-Slavic language. Because of the brutal portrayals of violence, the film shocked audiences at the Venice Film Festival, where it premiered. The story follows a Jewish boy who wandered the expanses of Eastern Europe during World War II, fleeing anti-Semitic persecution and witnessing the unprecedented cruelty of war. The film is a ‘wild three-hour journey through hell’ but is magnificently directed and shot with an impressive black and white camera. The film was selected as a Czech representative for the Oscars.
To stay updated on film festivals and cultural events in Croatia, follow our Lifestyle page here. Updates on film showings can be found on the HRFF Facebook page here. More info on Kino tuškanac can be accessed here.