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16 features at Balkan Survey section of the Thessaloniki

For the 17th consecutive year, the Balkan Survey section of the Thessaloniki International Film Festival (TIFF), programmed by Dimitri Kerkinos, showcases a selection of the most important Balkan films of the year. Its main objective is to invite attention to and launch platforms of communication between the filmmakers of the area and an international audience.
Additional initiatives such as the script-development Balkan Fund and the Balkan Works in Progress provide opportunities to buyers and distributors to discover projects in the final stages of production and make the Festival’s aim to promote Balkan cinema in the international market a concrete reality.
A Spotlight to the Zagreb School of Animation will complement the main program of this year’s Balkan Survey.

This year’s 51st TIFF BALKAN SURVEY MAIN PROGRAM will present, amongst a total of 16 features and shorts, the following films:

Mother of Asphalt by Dalibor Matanić (Croatia), a TIFF Balkan Fund 2009 award winner and a European premiere, is a family drama about a woman who leaves her husband, only to wander around hopelessly with her young son until they find shelter in a shopping mall and comfort in a lonely security guard. Marija Škaričić’s exceptional performance in the role of the distressed mother, lost in a modern-day Zagreb that is cruel and unforgiving, provides warmth and hope in a largely hopeless world.
The much-anticipated follow-up to The Death of Mister Lazarescu and a participant in last year’s Balkan Works in Progress, Aurora by Cristi Puiu, tells the story of a frustrated man (played by Puiu himself) who resorts to killing. It is a crime film turned on its head, infused with black humor: here, murder seems more like the result of an existential condition than a mystery that needs to be solved.
Serbian film Tilva Rosh by Nicola Lezaić, a TIFF Crossroads 2008 participant, is the story of the friendship between two 19-year-old boys, who spend their time skating, shooting amateur videos and waiting for their lives to change. The milieu is the mining town of Bor, newly impoverished due to the privatization process taking place in Central Europe. Another Serbian film to be screened during the 51st TIFF, White, White World by Oleg Novković, has also been shot in Bor, using the decaying town as a setting for the gloomy stories of a handful of characters, who –in a peculiar and poignant twist of genres- sing about their ill fates.
Turkish film Kosmos, by renowned director Reha Erdem, is a fable about a strange man, half-hobo half-prophet, who arrives in a town plagued by war. When the man saves a boy from drowning, he is hailed as a miracle worker; when the townspeople fail to understand him and his spiritual message, he is shut out, even though he is only offering them help. Atmospheric and spectacularly shot, Kosmos speaks of the lack of faith that afflicts the modern world and the contemporary human; not faith in religion, but faith in nature, in others and the interconnectedness of the world.
Majority by Seren Yüce, another Turkish entry in the program, is the director’s impressive and mature feature debut. It raises the issue of parent authoritarianism and control –even in those modern, liberal strata of Turkish society- told through the story of a young man who meets the disapproval of his family when he falls in love with a Kurdish girl. Majority won the Lion of the Future for Best Debut Film Award in the 2010 Venice IFF.


Aurora by Cristi Puiu, Romania/France/Switzerland/Germany
Cirkus Columbia by Danis Tanović, Bosnia/France/UK
Envy (Kiskanmak) by Zeki Demirkubuz, Turkey
If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle (Eu cand vreau sa fluier, fluier) by Florin Serban, Romania
Kosmos by Reha Erdem, Turkey/Bulgaria
Majority (Cogunluk) by Seren Yüce, Turkey
Mother of Asphalt (Majka asfalta) by Dalibor Matanić, Croatia
Shelter (Podslon) by Dragomir Sholev, Bulgaria
Tilva Rosh (Tilva Ros) by Nicola Lezaić, Serbia
White, White World (Beli beli svet) by Oleg Novković, Serbia/Germany/Sweden


The Cage (ColiviaI) by Adrian Sitaru, Romania
Derby by Paul Negoescu, Romania
Music in the Blood (Muzika in singe) by Alexandru Mavrodineanu, Romania
Oxygen (Oxigen) by Adina Pintilie, Romania
Stanka Goes Home (Stanka se pribira vkashti) by Maya Vitkova, Bulgaria


The Zagreb School of Animation represents one of the most inventive moments of the cinema of the Balkan region in the past six decades. Hundreds of animation films, created mostly in the Zagreb Film production company, the first being The Big Meeting (1950), marked a golden era in the genre that lasted for the better part of two decades and is enjoying a renaissance again today. Its most discernible successes were Alone by Vatroslav Mimica, which in 1958 won the Grand Prix in Venice and Substitute by Dušan Vukotić, which won the 1962 Academy Award for the Best Animated film, the first non-American film to do so.
A group of young auteurs, such as Nikola Kostelac, Vatroslav Mimica, Dušan Vukotić, Vladimir Kristl and later Borivoj Dovniković, gathered around the satirical magazine Kerempuh, which gave them their first start until the animation studio of Zagreb Film was founded in 1956 and production became more considerable and multi-faceted.
Due to practical constraints, a unique, almost avant-garde aesthetic was born. The animators, working communally and collaboratively, reduced the traditional number of drawings and introduced two-dimensional, geometric properties in figures; that went against the grain of mainstream animation, embodied at the time by Disney cartoons. They concerned themselves with existential and socially oriented topics and used sound and music in an innovative manner. The Zagreb School of Animation represents a foremost contribution to the aesthetics of animated film.
One of the pioneers and central figures of the Zagreb School is director, animator, cartoonist, illustrator and graphic designer Borivoj Dovniković - Bordo, who will attend the 51st TIFF to discuss his 10 films that will be screened and the history of Croatian animation. Bordo was involved in the creation of The Big Meeting under Zagreb Film. He worked as a cartoonist in newspapers and magazines, designed company logos and ads, illustrated books, made films and was involved in the organization of the World Festival of Animated Films in Zagreb since its early beginnings. For his impressive and diverse career, he has received several international Lifetime Achievement Awards, as well as retrospectives in venues such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris and the Cinematheque Quebecoise in Montreal.
The Croatian Animation program during the 51st TIFF will showcase 47 films by 28 auteurs made from 1958 to 2009, some of which are: classics such as Alone by Vatroslav Mimica (1958), Don Quixote by Vladimir Kristl (1961), The Play by Dušan Vukotić (1962), Learning to Walk by Borivoj Dovniković (1978) and Satiemania by Zdenko Gašparović (1978), as well as contemporary works such as The Cake by Daniel Suljić (1997), Gipsy Song by Davor Međurečan & Marko Meštrović (2004), Morana by Simon Bogojević Narath (2008) and Miramare by Michaela Muller (2010).
In addition, director Simon Bogojevic Narath, who represents the new generation of Croatian animators, will also attend the 51st TIFF.

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9 Alexandras ave., 11473, Athens, Greece
Tel: 30 210 8706000, Fax: 30 210 64 48 143

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