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Elvis Lenić’s Ship wins main prize at 27. Ji.hlava IDFF

Director Elvis Lenić’s documentary feature Ship, a Kinematograf production (producer is Dijana Cetina Mlađenović), has been awarded Best Film in the Opus Bonum main competition at the 27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival.

The jury presented the Best World Documentary Film award in the main international competition Opus Bonum to Elvis Lenić’s Ship, for “creating a sweeping, deeply researched and visually stunning account of a Croatian shipyard whose rise and fall reflect the political fortunes of the former Yugoslavia.”

Described as a selection of “the best world documentary films”, the Opus Bonum programme comprised a total of 17 titles.

The jury consisted of Dominique Auvray, Adela Komrzy, Michael Renov, Christopher Small and director Una Gunjak whose feature debut, Excursion, a co-production with Croatian company Nukleus Film, is currently touring international festivals

“Our film was shown at the Dukla cinema on Friday afternoon, the attendance at the screening was excellent, as was the viewers’ concentration, so we were very satisfied with the screening. However, we weren’t thinking about winning awards, participating in the main competition at Ji.hlava was a fantastic success all on its own. Late on Friday evening, I received a call from the festival saying that I should definitely stay for the awards ceremony, but that they couldn’t tell me any details. I thought at best the film might win the award for best documentary in the Central and Eastern European competition, but as the ceremony progressed, it became clear that it be the main festival award. It is an incredible feeling, I still can’t believe that it really happened. Of course, receiving such a recognition at the film’s international premiere should reflect on its future life. Let’s hope that our “Ship” has a long festival voyage ahead,” said the author of Ship, Elvis Lenić, who accepted the award in Jihlava in person.

The feature-length documentary Ship centres on the testimonies of former workers of Uljanik, a shipyard in Pula that became a graveyard of abandoned workshops, steel wreckage and immovable cranes, after being in operation for more than 160 years and producing countless magnificent ships in its docks.

“We are proud and grateful for the award for Best Film at this year’s Ji.hlava IDFF. That is what we felt during all those years thinking about and making Ship. We had a great responsibility and respect for that gigantic ruined production plant, as well as for all those workers, engineers and their families who were the backbone of the Uljanik shipyard for many decades. We know that this cannot make up for their lost economic integrity, but hope that the film will bring them some form of well-deserved lasting dignity,” said on the occasion the film’s producer Dijana Cetina Mlađenović (Kinematograf). 

The documentary was directed, filmed and written by Elvis Lenić, edited by Matija Debeljuh, while Bojan Kondres created the sound design.

Ship had its world premiere at this year’s 70th Pula Film Festival, while the screening at Ji.hlava, Czech Republic, marks it international premiere.

In addition to the documentary Ship, Vlad Petri’s Between Revolutions, which is a Croatian minority co-production, also screened at Ji.hlava, in the Testimonies competition programme (Croatian co-producer is Oliver Sertić for Restart). Meanwhile, another Croatian project, Dreaming of El Dorado of director Alan Stanković and producer Boris Veličan (production company Studio devet), participated in the Docu Talents from the East industry section of the festival, realised in cooperation with the Sarajevo Film Festival.

The list of all the titles awarded at the Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival may be found on this link. 

The 27th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival, the biggest documentary festival in Central and Eastern Europe, was held 24th – 29th October in the Czech city of Jihlava. The festival is part of the DOC Alliance – a partnership among seven European documentary film festivals, aimed at strengthening independent and creative documentary filmmaking in Europe. Find out more about Ji.hlava IDFF on its official website

Cover photograph: director Elvis Lenić accepts the award at Ji.hlava IDFF

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