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Croatian films and projects at 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival

Two Croatian shorts and one American-Croatian-Qatari feature co-production to screen at the 62nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival, held 4th – 14th in Greece. In addition, one Croatian fiction feature project will be presented in the industry section – Agora. Also, a Croatian producer is one of only eight participants of the mentoring program of the European Women's Audiovisual Network (EWA), which also takes places within Agora. 

The Balkan Survey program devoted to the “best titles from the Balkans” will present two Croatian shorts. These are fiction short Penalty Shot, directed by Rok Biček, based on the story from Kristian Novak’s novel “Dark Mother Earth”. The film had its world debut this last August at the prestigious Locarno IFF and has since screened at the Sarajevo Film Festival, CinEast and the Festival of Slovenian Film, where it won the Vesna Award for Special Achievement. 

Besides directing the film, Biček co-wrote the screenplay together with Kristian Novak, while the film’s producers are Katarina Prpić, Danijel Pek and Rok Biček. The film is an Antitalent and Cvinger Film production, in co-production with Zwinger Film (Austria). Penalty Shot was supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), Slovenian Film Center, Viba Film and the City of Zagreb.  

Alongside Penalty Shot, the same programme will feature animated film The Raft created by Marko Meštrović. To date, the film has toured various festivals at home (Animafest Zagreb, Tabor FF, Mediterranean Film Festival Split), winning the First Award in the Grandtoon competition at Supertoon in Šibenik. The Raft has also appeared at festivals in Belgrade, Cyprus, Banja Luka and elsewhere.

Marko Meštrović directed the film, co-writing the script with Božidar Trkulj. Meštrović also did the animation, together with David Lovrić. The film is a Kreativni Sindikat production, supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and the City of Zagreb. The film’s producer is Igor Grubić.  

Thessaloniki’s competitive section FF Film Forward is showing fiction-documentary feature Aleph, directed by Iva Radivojević, created as an American-Croatian-Qatari co-production, which recently screened at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

The film is a mystical travelogue in which protagonist in ten countries spanning five continents share their thoughts, ideas and dreams. These collective stories serve as pieces of a puzzle leading to what Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges called “the unimaginable universe”. Aleph blends cinematic elements of narrative fiction and magic realism with the rigor and mechanics of documentary practice to explore the dreams, stories, preoccupations, thoughts, and lived and imagined experiences of its protagonists – actors, performers, musicians and non-professionals. A unique narrative that introduces us to a different understanding of the meaning of both revelation and challenge – a venture achieved through play with uncertainty and serendipity.

A talk with the director will accompany the screening of Aleph. The film was supported for script development by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre. 

Apart from the film programme, Croatian production will also be presented in the industry section at Thessaloniki IFF – Agora. Namely, the debut feature film project, Pelican, will appear in the Work in Progress section, presenting films that are near completion coming from countries of Southeastern Europe, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Creative teams will thus have the opportunity to present their projects to potential financial partners, sales agents, distributors and festival programmers.

Pelican is a story about Josip, a football goalie, recovering at a spa after an injury sustained on holiday. The injury is so serious that his goalkeeping career could be on the line. Faced with a major life change, Josip has an identity crisis as he tries to find a way to reinvent himself.

Director Filip Heraković co-wrote the script with Nikolina Bogdanović, while the film is created by production company Wolfgang & Dolly. Tamara Babun and Matija Drniković are the producers of the film, which was supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre for micro-budget film, as well as the City of Rijeka under the public needs in culture scheme.

In addition, the mentoring program of the European Women's Audiovisual Network (EWA) takes place within the Agora in an online format. The program is aimed at women cinema producers, who already have a relevant experience at a national level and wish to evolve further to a European/international dimension. One of the eight participants is Croatian producer Magdalena Petrović (LEWA). A list of all mentors and participants can be found here.

Thessaloniki International Film Festival is one of the oldest in Europe. It was founded in 1959 and is one of the most important places for the promotion of regional cinemas. Find out more on the official website of the festival.

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