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Winners of the first Free Zone competition program – Under The Sun, Cinema Island, My Private War and Sing Street

Another Free Zone Film Festival has been officially closed, following most successful films awards ceremony and Belgrade premiere of Boris Miljković’s documentary film Sugar Factory. After the festival entered the second decade of existence and active functioning, specific accent of this year’s festival was about bringing significant innovations, that include competitive character of the festival, new regional program, Masterclass lectures and additional accompanying content.

Selectors Rajko Petrović, Branka Pavlović and Biljana Tutorov have chosen the record number of 50 most attractive engaging films from the previous year for the 12th Free Zone repertoire. Half of them participated in the race for the best picture in four categories – International, Regional, Human Rights and high-school selection 14+.

During six festival days, in three cities and nine movie theaters, 20. 000 viewers visited the festival, and Belgrade hosted 50 film professionals, authors and public figures that, everyone in its own field of profession, reflect thoughtful social engagement Free Zone tends to maintain for twelve years.

For each of competition program, there has been formed individual jury that consisted of eminent film erudites, supporting regional film festivals executives, prominent journalists and historians.

Following the decision of International jury, consisted of film critic of Politika Dubravka Lakić, Croatian producer Oliver Sertić and director and screenwriter Szabolcs Tolnai, the award for the Best film in International competition went to Vitaly Mansky’s documentary film Under The Sun for its “punctilious directing script, multilayer approach to the main theme and unique closeness to protagonists in the visually extraordinary treatment to life in the North Korea – country that we know about mostly from the media. As the International jury highlights in its explanation, “this film combines impressive dreamlike images with the kafkian situations that we think about long after watching it”.

Regional selection, one of the significant future mark of the Free Zone, classified 17 films in total that criticaly reevaluate present moment in the Balkans, but also the difficult and traumatic periods of history which we passed through, with all its persisting consequences. Jury at this category includes producer of documentary film Al Jazeera Balkans Lejla Dedić, editor Jelena Maksimović and film and TV director of RTV Crna Gora Vuk Perović and the award for the Best film in Regional competition went to Ivan Ramljak’s Cinema Island, appraised as “poetic documentary with precise directing expression in which real and fictive lives overlap while, at the same tame, author’s unlimited love towards cinema and films gets to be shared with audience”. Because of its “uncompromising approach that helps us to confront with the great questions placed in front of us by brutal reality of war”, jury decided to assign special additional award to Selma Doborac’s Those Shocking Shaking Days.

Human Rights competition program was evaluated by journalist of weekly magazine Vreme Tamara Skrozza, creative director of Dokufest Veton Nurkolari and Croatian historian and writer Dragan Markovina. With unanimous decision, the jury assigned the Human Rights award to feature-length documentary film My Private War directed by Lidija Zelović, which, in the words of the jury “succeeded to represent the metaphore of all the Yugoslav wars, considering its singular case – the case of Sarajevo, exile and partly the war in Kosovo. With representation of her own “private war”, that hasn’t been deprived of personal drama, apparent in conversations with family members, Zelović reached one of the highlights of film in general, clearly pointing to a complete dehumanization”.

High-school jury, matching its subjective impressions with collective sensibility and impuls of the Zone’s all generations audience, assigned the 14+ award to John Carney’s Sing Street. This jury, consisted of seven young film otees, highlighted the fact that “everyone at Free Zone learns how to build his own zone of freedom inside of which he will protect values he consider to be the correct ones. Alongside of its attention to details, thoughtful character analysis and specific artistic expression through music and images, film Sing Street corresponds the most with all that Free Zone essentialy represents”. This year’s high-school jury consisted of Danilo Stanimirović, David Mađar, Stefan Stošić, Nemanja Čarapa, Maja Čubrilo, Danica Mladenović and Ana Stojmenović.

Festival audience this year also voted for their favorite film. Morgan Neville’s documentary film Yo-Yo Ma: Music of Strangers has been declared as the winner by far the most votes; it is the art piece that shows the extraordinary story of renowned multicultural musical group founded by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

After closing ceremony, the audience had the opportunity to watch Sugar Factory, directed by Boris Miljković, a film that represent private history of a country that doesn’t exist anymore through painful but optimistic mirror of today, using intimate Egyptian stories, from one particular building and its tenants, as well as the Cairo homeless people. At the same time, film represents an omnibus that unusualy links Tito, Naser, young king Petar II Karadjordjevic, former SFRJ ambassadors and breaking of Yugoslavia to one small street and people who left their trace on it.

12th Free Zone Film Festival was supported by Ministry of Culture and Information, Reconstruction Women’s  Fund, French Institute in Serbia and Secretariat for Culture – City of Belgrade.

See You again next year on Free Zone!