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Dubrovnik International Film Festival wrap up story

Following success of the past three years, the Festival, Dubrovnik International Film Festival once again showed a diverse selection of films to an international audience, as well as showcase of present Croatia’s national film industry. DIFF 2005 hosted big names Christopher Walken, Peter Medak, Emily Watson, John Hurt, Gregory Widen, while Walken and Watson received prestigious The Libertas and Argosy Award, which celebrates their outstanding contribution and supporting the spirit of an extraordinary career achievement. In the year 2005 festival held an important festival film industry strategy, a Screenwriting Panels on a subject of film, literature and publicity held by panelist: John Hurt, Dr. James Ragan, Hugh Linchean, Marvin Siegel, Hilary Heath, Oren Jacoby, Peter Medak, Daniel Rosenthal, Gregory Widen, Andrew Dean, and Mile Rupcic the winner of Hartley Merrill International Screenwriting Prize.

Year 2006, during the five-days of festival within the enchanting Dubrovnik town, festival held a celebration of film and music, attended by local and international filmmakers. The fourth Dubrovnik Film Festival announced SEA FILMS, a new program of films that are thematically connected to the sea, because Dubrovnik's special geography, history and traditional ties to the sea. Dubrovnik Film Festival Founder and Director Ms. Ziggy Mrkich curated a selection of NEW CROATIAN FILM displayed at the Silver Lake Film Festival in Los Angeles in March. This was the first time that Croatian films were presented as a program and part of a major film festival outside of Croatia. Ms. Mrkich also worked on a similar project presented in Brussells; her background includes working in film development, radio and photography.

DIFF 2006
Best Feature Film Award was given to Branko Schmidt’s “ The Melon Route”, Best Documentary Award went to Philip Grabsky’s “In Search of Mozart”, Best Short Award went to Stacy Harrison’s “Gorgeous Labour of Love” and Special Mention Award went to Jennifer Winston’s documentary “Fisher Poets”.
An outstanding international film selection as well as the selection of national program followed The Libertas Award which was, this time, given to Josip Genda Croatian theatre director and an actor who recently passed away. The Libertas Award to Josip Genda was accepted by ex Yugoslavian, now Croatian actor and intendant of Split Croatian National Theatre Milan Strljic. Regarding other program I would mention charming Maya Gregl, editor from Croatian Television that presented her book of poetry and short film “Longing”, directed by Tomislav Gregl for which she has written screenplay.

Films of my personal choice:

“The Melon Route” by Branko Schmidt
This is a powerful feature film drama about illegal immigrants from China, inspired by a true story of illegal Chinese immigrants who drowned in Sava River on a border between Bosnia and Croatia. Branko Schmidt is indeed, a powerful director and success of this film firstly owes to Schmidt. A tragic destiny of illegal immigrants in a period of civil war in 90s empowers the strong characters of film, where protagonists and antagonists are equally important and are supported by the roles of one of the best Croatian actors, including debut of a young Chinese actress Sun Mei.

“Tressette” by Drazen Zarkovic and Pavo Marinkovic
Drama about life on a small Dalmatian island, in a very small community that leads an obscure and boring life. With the death of one member of community, and their desperate seek for a 4th replacement player in their card game called Tressetta, the community displays realistic and strong characters. Their search for player becomes revealing panel for hidden secrets of a small community and their individual characters. This is a brilliant and painfully realistic overview on a small community. Film worth seeing at least for its fantastic crew.

“Fisher poets” by Jennifer Brett Winston
This is a story of a unique community of fishermen on Alaska and their passion for tales and lyric writing about fishing. The community has two things in common: fishing and loose verse poetry. For this community fishing is not only essential food on a table but also food for thoughts. Once I’ve read that work in nature moves an important life issues in one’s head. If it’s done with passion, something simple done over and over again in nature, drags out a real complicated mind work. As simpler it gets, becomes the more essential.

“Longing” by Tomislav Gregl
This short film is the fabulous manifestation of a female longing. An intensive love story of a man and woman, narrated through a dance and personal experience. It is set on a main square in Zagreb Croatia while dancing woman and a man character are animated, which is in this case, very interesting solution. Once you see it you do not forget it, because it is not usual. You always remember a real set and an animated characters getting together, something that is usual in films meant to aim children.

“St. Vlaho hope, faith and love” by Mario Miljak
Another short documentary film about history of Dubrovnik that is tightly related and beyond doubt, tangled with its patron saint, St. Vlaho-the protector of Dubrovnik town. A fab history told by rector of a church Don Toma Lucic. Film is dealing with religious aspect of Dubrovnik celebration of St. Vlaho.

By Radmila Djurica

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