Wednesday, 23 March 2022

Croatian Film Festivals: An Overview

March 23, 2022 - With the 94th Academy Awards just around the corner, Total Croatia News takes a look at some of the major Croatian film festivals celebrating the best of Croatian and international cinema, paving the way for major film festivals in the world.

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.

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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.

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Photo: www.zff.hr

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)

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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)

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Photo: www.pulafilmfestival.hr

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)

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Photo: www.studentfilmfestival.eu

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)

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Photo: www.fmfs.hr

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)

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Photo: www.dhf.hr

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)

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Photo: www.motovunfilmfestival.com

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)

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Photo: www.vukovarfilmfestival.com

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.

ZagrebDox

Zagreb (3 – 10 April, 2022 | 18th Edition)

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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)

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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.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 18 July 2021

2021 Pula Film Festival Officially Opens at Arena with 1,500 in Attendance

July 18, 2021 - The 2021 Pula Film Festival is held in 15 locations, four of which are reserved for the film program with more than 90 screenings.

Without traditional fireworks, with a limited number of spectators, and in compliance with all epidemiological measures, the 68th Pula Film Festival was opened in the Pula Arena on Saturday night with a festive program and screening of the Croatian film "Murina" directed by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, reports Jutarnji List.

The envoy of the Croatian president, special advisor for culture Zdravko Zima, said at the opening that Pula was recognized and will remain so in the future - as a unique place of pilgrimage for many film workers. As he pointed out, it is a city mentioned because of its many sights, because of the film festival and the Book Fair, and he concluded the address by assessing that "art is permanent, and human lives are short."

State Secretary at the Ministry of Culture Krešimir Partl, as an envoy of the Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and Media, said that the 68th edition of the Pula Film Festival is taking place in different challenging circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. He pointed out that the pandemic had suspended numerous projects, but as he said, "although there are fewer films, they are of high quality and have already been awarded at festivals" and therefore believes that the program can be beautiful.

"Behind us is a challenging year that has particularly hit the culture and audio-visual sector. However, I believe a better time is ahead of us, and the Government will do everything in its power to help normalize and restart economic and cultural activities," said Secretary of State Partl.

He said that the Ministry of Culture is proud of this year's Croatian program, the authors, producers, artists, and employees who managed to complete the shooting and production of films presented at this festival in difficult circumstances.

The mayor of Pula, Filip Zoričić, said that the pandemic had left its mark on the cultural sector and that the connection between film and Pula was deeply rooted in the city's tradition.

"The festival is part of our past and part of the future. Pula is a city of film, and we will work to extend the film story of three thousand years of Pula through quality programs throughout the year," said Zoričić. He expressed the desire for the festival to outgrow its framework and become an even more important social and cultural moment of modern and urban Pula.

"Pula is a city of culture, Pula is the Croatian Rome, which especially evokes respect and culture. The film sums up all the arts, and that is a special feeling of freedom, the freedom we always have to talk about. The film and the book give us the opportunity to travel, dream, fantasize, ask questions and give some answers," said Mayor Zoričić. As he pointed out at the end of his speech, "the Pula Film Festival is a world festival, a European, regional, Croatian, but above all a Pula Film Festival."

Like every edition, films will be shown on the most beautiful natural stage under the open sky until Friday.

Members of the Croatian Program Jury are Polish screenwriter and director Pawel Pawlikowski, actress Zrinka Cvitešić, director Danilo Šerbedžija, assistant professor at the University of Split Academy of Arts Mirko Pivčević, and artistic director of the Chicago International Film Festival Mimi Plauche.

The festival opened with a screening of the Croatian film "Murina," debutant Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, the first screening of the film after its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Camera d'Or award for the best debut film. This is one of the greatest successes of Croatian film.

1,500 spectators in the Arena could enter without COVID certificates.

The Pula Film Festival is held in 15 locations, four of which are reserved for the film program with more than 90 screenings, and of the films in competition, there are six Croatian and ten co-productions.

For more on lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

PHOTOS: Pula Amphitheatre and Zagreb Arena Lit Red for Events Industry

September 3, 2020 - Three of Croatia's most internationally famous venues in the events industry were lit in spectacular red on Monday. Pula amphitheatre, Zagreb Arena and Fort Punta Christo were bathed in light from sunset until after dark

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Three of Croatia's most internationally famous venues used by the events industry were lit in spectacular red on Monday. Pula amphitheatre, Zagreb Arena and Fort Punta Christo, also in Pula were bathed in light from sunset until after dark.

Though the change in appearance was enjoyable and visually impressive, the action was undertaken to send a strong message. It was part of a worldwide campaign to highlight the effects of Coronavirus on the events industry and those who work within it.

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Some of the most famous historical buildings, concert venues and event halls in the world joined the Red Alert campaign and were similarly lit on the same night.

Large public events have been put on hold over most of the world under epidemiological guidelines. Seating arrangements in theatres, conference halls, sports and music halls are simply not compatible with social distancing regulations – many such venues could not make a profit by holding events at 50% capacity.

This has affected millions around the world who work in the events industry, from musicians and performers to technicians, bookers, agents, the media, PR representatives, venue management and general staff. Freelancers operating within the events industry are some of the hardest hit and have had all of their income sources removed completely. Many who operate in the events industry are highly trained and skilled, so diversifying into other industries can be problematic.

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Pula amphitheatre (also known as Pula Arena) is a massively popular open-air venue in warmer months. It holds spectacular opera, ballet and classical music events as well as hosting a film festival. Like Zagreb Arena, it attracts some of the biggest names in pop and rock music. Fort Punta Christo has become famous all over Europe and further over the last decade, thanks to the internationally renowned Outlook and Dimensions festivals. Those events were supposed to take place in Tisno, at The Garden festival site. But, along with seven further festivals due to be held there this year, they chose to cancel in order to safeguard the health of their attendees and locals.

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Fort Punta Christo in Pula is widely known as a host site for international music festivals

The Croatian events industry alone is comprised of 2000 business entities, has more than 12,000 employees, and annually generates HRK 4.5 billion. Autumn/winter 2021 is the soonest estimated point at which large scale events could return to normal. The Red Alert campaign has been undertaken to highlight the plight of the events industry as many sections within it face total collapse if deprived of work until then. 

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All photos © Red Alert

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Friday, 17 July 2020

Pula Film Festival Delayed Until Beginning of September

Another (at least temporary) victim of the coronavirus pandemic is the much loved Pula Film Festival, which has had to create a several week delay until the beginning of September.

As Morski writes on the 15th of July, 2020, after the Civil Protection Headquarters of Istria County made a decision to cancel the Pula Film Festival, or more precisely to delay it quite significantly. 

A meeting on the subject was held on this topic in the presence of the Mayor of Pula, Boris Miletic, the Deputy Prefect of Istria County, Fabrizio Radin, the Director of the Public Health Institute of Istria County, Aleksandar Stojanovic, the Chief of the Civil Protection Headquarters of Istria County, Dino Kozlevac, the Head of the Administrative Department for Culture of Istria County, Vladimir Torbica, and the Director of the Pula Film Festival public institution, Gordana Restovic.

It was concluded that the 67th Pula Film Festival would need to be postponed until the beginning of September this year. It is everyone's wish that the continuity of the Pula Film Festival goes on without fault and that this year's selected production is presented in a high quality manner, just as it has been every other year. The institution, together with its artistic director, will propose to the Festival Council, in accordance with all of the anti-epidemic measures, a new look for the Festival and the schedule of the expected screenings, and an appropriate decision will then be made.

In the hope that epidemiological conditions will allow for it by the time September rolls around, the film-loving audience in the gorgeous Istrian city will still be able to enjoy the Pula Film Festival and the celebration of films.

The Pula Film Festival public institution also informed the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia about the conclusions of their meeting.

For more on events in Croatia in the coronavirus era, follow our dedicated lifestyle page.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Designers Behind Visual Identity of 66th Pula Film Festival Win Prestigious International Award

August 24, 2019 - The most prestigious and largest international design award - Red Dot Award: Brands & Communication Design - went to the Rašić + Vrabec studio, the designers behind the visual identity of the 66th Pula Film Festival.

This year, more than 8600 projects applied for this prized award, and the international jury of 24 reputable experts selected the logo of the 66th Pula Film Festival as one of the best in the Brand Design & Identity category for logo design, reports HRTurizam.

"We are honored that the jury chose this award-winning logo for the 66th Pula festival, which is one of the oldest continuous film festivals in Europe and the world. At that time, we already felt that this logo was awaiting a very successful future,” pointed out the authors, Vedrana Vrabec and Marko Rašić.

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Rašić+Vrabec

“Using the figures in the logo emphasizes the tradition and longevity of the festival itself. The figure itself is compelling and symbolic and allows for numerous uses and associations.

The viewers interpreted the logo in different ways; from eyebrows to eyeglasses, peepholes, the Arena floor plan, movie rolls, and even exclamation points, etc. From the very beginning, it proved to be inspiring and applicable, and the audience's reactions were excellent,” the authors added.

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Rašić+Vrabec

The Red Dot Awards will be presented to the winners at an awards ceremony on October 1 in Berlin, and the award-winning projects will be on display at Designers' Night that same evening. The winning works will also be immortalized in the International Yearbook Brands & Communication Design 2019/2020, due out November 14.

Rasic + Vrabec are specialists in aesthetic design and for brands that want to become a culture. They design and create exhibitions, venues, and products, and studio founders Vedrana Vrabec and Marko Rašić have been professionally operating out of Zagreb for over 15 years.

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Film about General Ante Gotovina Opens 66th Film Festival in Pula

ZAGREB, July 14, 2019 - The film General by director Antun Vrdoljak was premiered at the start of the 66th edition of the Pula Film Festival on Saturday evening after the opening ceremony which included a fireworks display in Pula's landmark of Arena. Vrdoljak's film is about the life of Croatian war hero general Ante Gotovina who had a crucial role in the 1995 military and police operation Storm when Croatia liberated the largest part of its occupied areas which used to be under the control of rebel Serbs since 1992.

After the showing of the film, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, who delivered a speech at that opening ceremony, said that she found the film very emotional. The 2.5-hour film features Goran Višnjić, a Croatian American actor and producer, in the role of General Gotovina.

Before the screening, in her opening speech, the president said that she believed that the film "is not a story of just one deserving man – a general of the victorious Croatian Army Ante Gotovina – this is a story about the Homeland War, but above all the story of the Croatian struggle for human and national freedom."

"This long historical story of ours has many protagonists and deserves many more quality movies," the president concluded, declaring the festival open.

In her speech she also emphasised that "the lasting value of the Pula Film Festival lies in its presentation of contemporary Croatian film production, its diversity and versatility." Therefore, the president awarded the festival the Charter of the Republic of Croatia, for its current work and as an incentive to persevere in the future.

Artists presented themselves and their works on this location, they were judged by experts, but above all by you, the audience of Pula, whose voice always has special importance and value, she added.

At a news conference before the opening ceremony, the Director of the Public Institution Pula Film Festival Gordana Restović thanked all the associates and the Culture Ministry, City of Pula, and the Istria County for their support and assistance to the Festival.

She also said that 110 films would be shown cross 17 venues until 21 July. The Croatian programme includes eight films.

More news about Ante Gotovina can be found in the Politics section.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Oliver Dragojević Documentary Film to Premiere at Pula Film Festival

Just one week before we mark one year of his passing, an homage to the late singer Oliver Dragojević will be held at the 66th Pula Film Festival. 

A documentary film about the late singer Oliver Dragojević titled "OLIVER's 70 - A Little Story About a Great Musician and His Last Concert" (In Croatian: “OLIVERovih 70”) will premiere on July 20, in the Pula Arena, within the 66th Pula Film Festival. The film will premiere just before the first anniversary of the death of the legendary Croatian musician, reports Splitski Dnevnik on July 11, 2019.

Filmmakers Branko Drakulić and Lea Dekleva used materials recorded before and during the celebratory concert "OLIVER's 70" in Zagreb with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra. The film follows Oliver to his most intimate interview and aims to bring viewers closer to Oliver’s humbleness and uniqueness - the traits that made the distinguished singer so loved. 

Oliver's discography, concerts throughout his career, and media promotion molded him into a unique phenomenon of Croatian pop music. Throughout his life, Oliver Dragojevic deeply connected to his fans, opened his heart to cooperate with music colleagues, and was eager to participate in many special projects. 

In his vibrant 50-year-career, Oliver released 23 studio albums, numerous compilations, won hundreds of awards and played to crowds of thousands at concerts in the world's most famous concert halls such as New York's Carnegie Hall, London's Royal Albert Hall, the Paris Opera House, and the Sydney Opera House. This left behind an undeniable artistic heritage and thus influenced many generations - and will continue to inspire those yet to come. 

"I'm glad I had a chance to cooperate with Oliver in my life, but I'm sorry we could not do more, especially with concerts in Split which everyone loved. Looking at the recordings, we realized that this is precious material and that it should be presented to Oliver's audience,” said the producer of the documentary, Neno Drobnjak.

The documentary film about Croatia’s beloved Oliver will premiere at the Pula Film Festival just before the first anniversary of his passing, on Saturday, July 20 after the awards ceremony. You can read more about the film here

To read more about lifestyle in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page

Monday, 17 June 2019

Turkey Featured at This Year's Pula Film Festival

ZAGREB, June 16 (Hina) - Turkey is the Friend Country of the 66th edition of the Pula Film Festival that will take place in that biggest Istrian city from 13 to 21 July.

"For a number of years, in cooperation with embassies and cultural centres, Pula Film Festival has been organising a section of the International Programme called Friend Country. This year, the cooperation with Turkey will be presented through six contemporary films," the festival says on its web site

One of those six films is the "Dairy Philosopher" comedy directed by Mutif Can Sacinti. The film is about an enthusiast who replaces life in the city with life in the countryside, but soon after receives an offer for his land.

Also the screening of Turkish films includes "Husband Factor" directed by Kivanc Baruonu, which also takes a humorous tone telling a story about a traditional family pressuring a young woman living with her parents to marry.

"The award-winning film Grain (directed by S. Kaplanoglu) is a post-apocalyptic account of a society divided into urban and agricultural zones, where incompatible immigrants suffer from drought and epidemics. The film Blue Bicycle (directed by U. Koreken) is a family drama about a boy who’s saving to buy a bicycle, but is prepared to give up his dream to help a girl in trouble. The drama Fish (directed by D. Zaim) is a story about a fisherman searching for a medicinal fish to help cure his daughter. Telling Tales (directed by B. Aksak) is a romantic comedy about a shy minibus driver whose life changes when he meets a dreamy girl," according to the information published on the festival's website.

The festival organises the showing of all films in Pula's landmark Arena and in the Istrian National Theatre.

More film news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Pula Film Festival: Return of the PoPular Program to Arena

Feature films "The White Crow" by director Ralph Fiennes about the life of the one of the greatest ballet artists of the 20th century, Rudolf Nureyev, "Tolkien" by Dome Karukovski about the early years in the life of J. R. R. Tolkien, author of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the autobiographical saga "Dolor y Gloria" by the Spanish superstar director Pedro Almodovar will be shown during the PoPular program in Pula Arena.

The 66th Pula Film Festival will see the return of the PoPular program in the week between the 15th and the 21st if July, Zlatko Vidačković, the art director of the Pula Film Festival announced at a press conference held in Pula.

The international program of the festival is mostly about biography films about the great artists of the world, and five feature and five documentaries will be shown, Vidačković said. The second part of the program will be shown in Valli Theatre: Never Look Away by an Oscar winner Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (inspired by the life of the artist Gerhard Richter) and All Is True by Kenneth Branagh about the last years in the life of William Shakespeare.

Great Peter Bogdanovich directed a documentary about Buster Keaton in 2018, called "The Great Buster" which will be shown in the documentary part of the program. Jean-Christophe Klotz's documentary about John Ford, Anderson's and Demmon's documentary on Montgomery Clift, Bruce Weber's documentary on Robert Mitchum will also be shown.

Director Gordana Restović announced the new festival edition "Time Machine 3". Another important book for Pula and overall history of cinematography in Croatia, written by a film archaeologist Dejan Kosanović will see its second edition.

The director of the Tourist Board of Pula, Sanja Cinkopan Korotaj took the opportunity to explain the complexity of the organization of the Pula film festival. Pula Mayor wanted to remember a not so distant past when Pula didn't have a movie theatre and compared it to the infrastructure they can be proud of today.

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

''Eighth Commissioner'' Film is Croatian Candidate for Oscar

Good news for the popular Croatian film ''Osmi Povjerenik'' (Eighth Commissioner).

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