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DIIFF wrapped in Dubrovnik, The Festivity Town

DIFF, 3rd International Film Festival in Dubrovnik 2005

The essential goal of DIFF Dubrovnik International Film Festival 2005, 25-29 of May, is independent film screening and among all, presentation of film talents. Even though, its only 3rd year of its existence, City of Dubrovnik is presenting the festival as the part of one cultural and historical festival summer events. Dubrovnik in Croatia is well known in world for its cultural and historical venues. Tradition and culture in this beautiful little coastal town, perfectly fits into the everyday life. So, what does this festival distinguishes from all other, beside its international character?
The festival offers an exquisite opportunity to meet celebrities and relevant names and of course promotes cinema of ex Yugoslavia and nowadays Croatia. Naturally, City of Dubrovnik and Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia supports this important international cultural event in order to increase international awareness of the festival, set in this beautiful little town, Dubrovnik. Within this information, the Dubrovnik’s film club is reformed now by younger generation of local filmmakers, in order to promote art and interest of filmmaking.

DIFF Festival Program
DIFF Dubrovnik International Film Festival, started with “Ladies in Lavander” directed by Charles Dance with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, and has been closed with action film by Breck Eisner “Sahara” starring with Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz. Festival program included, out of competition “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Garth Jennings and “The Woodsman” by Nicole Kassel starring with Kevin Bacon. Beside an official program of the feature and documentary films in the competition, festival held official program of feature, animated and Croatian films out of the competition and Vatroslav Mimica Retrospective of films from 60s, as an important part of formal Yugoslavian film opus.

DIFF Festival Screenwriting Panels
Beside other events, screenings and press conference DIFF Dubrovnik Film Festival held two very important Screenwriting Panels on a subject of film, literature and publicity: Books Into Films held by panelist John Hurt well known British actor, Dr. James Ragan, the Dean of the USC Master of Professional Writing Program, Hugh Linchean an entertainment editor of the Irish Times, Marvin Siegel New York Times editor, Hilary Heath UK film producer, Oren Jacoby, Peter Medak film director (Negatives, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, The Ruling Class, The Krays, Let Him Have It, Romeo is Bleeding), Daniel Rosenthal editor of Variety International Film Guide “the best annual guide to world cinema” by The Observer and film and theatre critic, also moderator of all panels, discussions and press conferences of the festival. Another screenwriting panel A Look at European and American Storytelling was held by Dr. James Ragan, Gregory Widen well known film director and writer (Highlander, The Prophecy, Backdraft, Tales from the Crypt), Andrew Dean (Joan of Arc, Miracles, See Spot Run, Whispers in the Dark) television and film producer of Industry Entertainment and Mile Rupcic the winner of Hartley Merrill International Screenwriting Prize. The discussions were debating the difference between European and American Storytelling and their meeting points and getting Books into Films, about the best ways to adopt book into film.

DIFF Festival Jury
The selection of films and entire cinema program of the festival reflects consciousness of a film current in the past few years. Within its rather small festival international character, (Dubrovnik International Film Festival) DIFF’s selection of the films goes for about 15 countries, couple of film cooperation including: UK, USA, China, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Sweden, Poland, Chile, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, Australia and Croatia.

Regarding the fact that Dubrovnik International Film Festival is a small festival in small country, I think we should consider DIFF Jury for feature film: Mark Shivas UK TV and film producer, Sheamus Smith producer and former Film Censor of Irish Film Board, Gregory Mosher producer, Director of Columbia University of US Arts Initiative, Andrew Dean, film producer, manager, partner in LA Industry Entertainment, Regina Dantas CEO of USA Bossa Entertainment of New York, Maya Gregl from Croatian Television and Maryte Kavaliauskas, the film director.
Jury for documentary film: Kiril Raylogov and Gregory Widen film director and scriptwriter from USA. Also in the jury of the festival, Croatian winner of Hartley Merrill International Screenwriting Prize, among 23 other countries in the competition, Mile Rupcic, Foundation’s Board of Directors Dina Merrill, Dr.James Ragan the Dean of USC Master of Professional Screenwriting Program and Founding Member of Foundation Ted Hartley. Founding members of The Hartley Merrill Foundation are: Ted Hartley, George Kirgo, Dina Merrill, Nikita Mikhalkov, Lord David Putnam, Robert Redford, Lina Wertmuller, Sir David Williamson.

DIFF Festival Awards
Two outstanding awards of the festival LIBERTAS AWARD were given to Christopher Walken and Peter Medak, in a spirit of extraordinary achievement (The Libertas flag was flown on ships from Dubrovnik and it meant “for no amount of gold should your freedom be sold”) and ARGOSY AWARD which was given to Emily Watson for outstanding individual in the realm of filmmaking (Dubrovnik Argosy ships were merchant ships also mentioned by Shakespeare).

Out of films presented in Competition of DIFF, 3rd Dubrovnik International Film Festival, the International Jury awards are:

BEST FILM: ‘Frozen” : Directed by Juliet McKeon (UK)
BEST DIRECTOR: ‘Zhoorek” Directed by Ryszard Brylski (POLAND)
BEST SCREENPLAY: “Oprosti za Kung Fu” Written and Directed by Ognjen Svilicic (CROATIA)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “Frozen” Cinematography by Philip Robertson (UK)

“Sve pet” Directed by Dana Budisavljevic (CROATIA)
“Phaid” Directed by Chris Frey (USA)
“Golemata voda” Directed by Ivo Trajkov (MACEDONIA)
Special Mention:
“Sve pet” Directed by Dana Budisavljevic (CROATIA)

Chistopher Walken
Peter Medak

Emily Watson

DIFF Festival Competition Films
In the official competition of the festival, I’ll of course mention only some:

“Ladies in Lavender” by Charles Dance
United Kingdom,
Cast: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Brühl, Miriam Margolyes, Natascha McElhone, David Warner and Toby Jones
Directed by: Charles Dance
Screenplay by: Charles Dance
103 min 2004
Veteran actresses Maggie Smith and Judy Dench give an extraordinary gloss to actor-turned-writer-director Charles Dance's book adaptation of a short story by William J. Locke. The year is 1936, aging sisters Ursula (Dench) and Janet (Smith) share a room in the same Cornish seaside cottage where they were born. Janet was married but stayed widow early and Ursula never married at all. Both nursed their father until their end, and now measure their days in a routine of meals prepared by Dorcas (Miriam Margolyes). They walk on the rocky beach, gardening, read books, knit and listening to the wireless radio. Then heavy storm washes ashore a bruised young man (Daniel Bruhl) with a broken ankle. The sisters accepting the stranger, because it's the right thing to do. Gradually they’re discovering that he's Polish, his name is Andrea and he plays the violin. While Janet's attentions are maternal, spinster Ursula getting infatuated with the his youth, even as she's fully, aware of how ridiculous it is for her, to lust for a boy young enough to be her grandchild. Meanwhile, as a new war is starting and some of the locals are starting to think that Andrea might be a spy, especially when exotic German tourist, Olga Daniloff (Natascha McElhone), comes to a stage. The fearful gossip never goes into a physical violence, but only powerfully repressed passions that inflict devastating emotional wounds. Sisters are old-fashioned with particularly British attitudes about decency and plainness. Its appeal lies in the powerful complex of inner lives of women who appear to be superficially dull and ordinary.

“Frozen” by Juliet McKeon & Jayne Steel
Cast: Shirley Henderson, Roshan Seth,
Screenplay: Juliet McKeon & Jayne Steel
90 min (2004)
DIFF’s Best Film Award. Juliet McKoen is Director and co-writer of Frozen. She has worked in the film and television industry after leaving York University. Firstly trained as a film editor, she went on to produce over 120 pieces of art films and videos for C4, BBC2, and the Arts Council. “Frozen” is a subtle psychological thriller, but not in that commercial way. As an insight into someone's psychological experience, the film might not be too scary. Kath is two years haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her sister Anne. By visiting the place where her sister was last seen, Kath believes she found a gateway to somewhere where her sister is still alive. What is real here? Did she really found her sister? A magnificent film that won Best Film Award and Best Cinematography Award on Dubrovnik Film Festival.

“The Great Water” by Ivo Trajkov
94 min (2004)
DIFF’s Audience’s Award . Film is set in post II World War Macedonian orphanage home whose real purpose was not looking after of children, but their political indoctrination. This is the official submission of Macedonia to the Academy Awards, and its about 12 years old orphan Lem, who was captured by partisans and brought to an abandoned factory where orphans of people who were against communism were kept. Locked up with hundreds of kids, he barely comprehended the militaristic socio-communist regimen exercise. Surrounded with dogma and cruelty Lem felt close to a new boy Isaac who shined with beauty, dignity and preternatural calm. Soon enough Isaac and Lem are getting involved with tragic chain of events among orphans, caused by cruelty of dogmatic political convictions of the adults.
- Entire film shines on poetic visuals and very strong performances of characters, which create unbelievable dreamscape.

“Zhoorek” by Ryszard Bryiski
70 min (2004)
DIFF’s Best Director Award. Halina and her daughter Iwonka are looking for father of Iwonka’s child. An honorable man committed suicide. As time is passing Iwonka claims different father all the time. This is realistic story set on border between “ peace and joy and happiness” that never comes. Mother keeps on suppressing fears, keep on living for her daughter, expecting a chance for purification.

“Sve 5” by Dana Budisaljevic
Screenplay: Dana Budisaljevic and Jelena Paljan
45 min (2005)
DIFF”s Best Documentary Award. Documentary about Lidija a prostitute and porn star, a fascinated story about life of girl from small Catholic society, from small Dalmatian town, to the sex shops in Amsterdam and porn films, back to her small town…

“Phaid” by Chris Frey
9 minutes (2005)
DIFF’s Best Short Film Award. Little girl Henette developed a powerful imagination after death of her mother, while her father suffers from agoraphobia. Little girl notices similarities between her dad and a fairytale character from her book “Phaid”, and decides to steal her father’s anti-depressants, forcing him to face his grief.

DIFF Films out of Competition

“Sorry for the Kung Fu” by Ognjen Svilicic
70 min, (2004)
DIFF’s Best Screenplay Award. A young girl comes back from Western Europe to Croatia pregnant to her conservative family in Dalmatinska Zagora. Her parents are trying to find her husband in order to avoid the shame.

“The Woodsman” by Nicole Kassel
Director: Nicole Kassel
Writer: Nicole Kassel,
Based on story: Steven Fechter
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Mos Def, Bejamin Bratt, David Alan Grier
Walter (Kevin Bacon), a pedophile in his forties, is trying to put his past behind him, after prison. But life outside isn't easy, because he sees kids coming out of school every day. Walter is an intelligent portray of convicted pedophile. He doesn’t provokes sympathy; he doesn't ask for any. Director avoids over-dramatization, concentrating instead on the dilemmas faced by a man who has paid his debt to society and is looking for a chance.

“Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Garth Jennings
Cast: Martin Freeman, Sam Rockwell, John Malkovich, Alan Rickman
Book adaptation of D. Adams
112 min (2005)
It's very different, Monty Python meets Star Wars. It is great to finally see one of all time favorite stories finally get the big time screen treatment. Cinema is a different experience. We are dealing here with a radically different medium from any of the other Hitchhiker's expression. A brand new opportunity to explore Douglas Adams' marvelous universe. Most noticeably, and perhaps most important for a two-hour motion picture, there is more effort to form a conventional plot than is present in the original incarnations. This is interesting, because none of the characters in Adams' earlier material really had any significant motivations in order to create interesting protagonists, in a more conventional setting. Truly impressive piece of work.

Radmila Djurica

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