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Dalia Alić and Lovro Mrđen’s The Stamp is Student Academy Award finalist

The Croatian-Belgian short fiction film, The Stamp, is producer Dalia Alić’s graduation film directed by Lovro Mrđen. It has been selected as one of eight films in the category of foreign language narrative film, which puts it in the running for the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal awards and the qualifying round for Oscar nominations. 

The film is the result of an international collaboration and co-production between the Academy of Dramatic Art of the University of Zagreb and the LUCA School of Arts, Narafi Campus in Brussels, where Dalia Alić previously completed a one-semester Erasmus + student exchange. It is a story about a migrant faced with the unfeeling bureaucracy of an unfamiliar country, as he tries to prove his kinship to his younger sister in order to prevent their separation. 

The entire film is the result of a desire to show the absurdity of the system in which we live, that still prevents us from becoming the citizens of this planet, rather than being confined to these fictitious historical inventions. It was an honest process that has drawn in the right people, who have already experienced the absurdity of it in their own realities, bringing about a film that is bigger that the series of moving images it is made of. Working with actors, and the entire film crew for that matter, was a challenge due to language barriers, but it was all the more special for it. The collaboration with the protagonist of the story, Lebanese actor Elie Joseph Njeim, was also very inspirational and emotionally charged and it has led to a life-long friendship. Precisely by bringing together the different cultures and languages, this film and the process of making it have done what any film should – united and transformed the ones who have created it, with the hope that the final product – this famed film – will do the same for the viewers,” said on the occasion of the nomination director Lovro Mrđen.  

The film has receive support from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, as well as numerous individuals thanks to an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and donations from different companies and organizations. The film premiered at the 2019 Zagreb Film Festival, going on to win numerous international recognitions and awards. In 2020, a world release and distribution agreement was signed with the Spanish festival distributor, Promofest, as well as the Iranian sales agency, 7th Art Distribution.   

Being in the running for Student Academy Awards is the result of several years of hard work, but also luck. We went beyond the required level of complexity for a student project, won several international awards and recognitions, proven that it is possible to make ambitious international projects and socially engaged student films in Croatia, including the ones with sensitive and important topics, such as those of refugee families, and even partially in a completely foreign language – and we have achieved all this on a tiny budget, battling a shortage of funds, and with the help of numerous people and organizations, especially Croatian and Belgian film professionals and colleagues who selflessly believed in the humanitarian vision of my graduation film from the Academy of Dramatic Art. In almost three years of running this project, from the inception of the idea, all the way to international distribution and release, that has lead to the Student Oscar qualifying round, the film was a baptism by fire for me, but it is also a clear confirmation that producers can and must strive to anticipate trends, launch their own projects and promote cinematic ideas that they believe are relevant to the audience, the market and the industry. As a young producer, it brings me great joy to see the film traveling the world and spreading a message of peace and tolerance among different audience groups, being recognized and appreciated, to the credit of the entire international team and all those who have lend a hand in any way in making this beautiful story come to light,” added the film’s producer Dalia Alić. 

Along with Lovro and Dalia, the film’s creative team is comprised of co-producer Jolien Van Meel, executive producer Suzana Potrebić, screenwriter Mario Piragić, director of photography Vedran Rapo, editor Zorana Rajić, music composer Josip Šuker, production designer Robert Šumaković, costume designer Irena Stolla and make-up artist Natalija Primorac Udovičić. The Stamp stars Elie Joseph Njeim and Ena-Sanan Hdagha, with Nur Asfour, Hrvojka Begović, Katarina Bistrović Drvaš, Mohammed Abd Ali Abdulasattar and Frano Mašković in supporting roles. The film is an Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb production, co-produced by the LUCA School of Arts, Narafi Campus (Brussels, Belgium). 

The Student Academy Awards is an international student film competition established in 1972 to support and encourage filmmaking at collegiate level, both in the US and across the world. Past SAA winners include well-known filmmakers such as John Lasseter, Pete Docter, Robert Zemeckis, Trey Parker and Spike Lee. The 47th edition of the awards will be held on 15th October.

All other information may be found on the following link, while the list of all the finalists is available here

Cover photographs: scenes from The Stamp; Dalia Alić; Lovro Mrđen

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