19th ZagrebDox Awards Presented


The main festival prize went to the film "Manifesto", authored under the pseudonym Angie Vinchito, in international competition, and to Nikolaus Geyrhalter for the film "Matter out of Place" in regional competition, while the Little Stamp for best short film went to Boris Poljak, for his film "Horror Vacui".

On Saturday, April 2, starting at 6:30 pm, the winning films of this year’s edition of the ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival were announced at the awards ceremony. At the festival, which opened last Sunday in the Kaptol Boutique Cinema, the audience had the opportunity to watch as many as 116 films in twelve sections, and twenty films competed for the official festival award Big Stamp in international and the same number in regional competition.

The international jury, whose members were director Igor Bezinović, producer Zdenka Gold and distributor Peter Jaeger, awarded the Big Stamp to the film Manifesto in this section. “Watching Russian teens on Youtube for 68 minutes maybe wouldn’t usually be a thing you’d like to do in front of your laptop, but Manifesto’s simple film style and content make a shocking political film which presents the contemporary political situation in a totally different way than the one you watch in the news,” said the jury’s statement. Manifesto, composed entirely of social media videos of teenagers going through a hostile education system and a climate of fear in contemporary Russia, premiered and won an award at the world’s largest documentary festival, IDFA.

Special mentions in international competition went to the films Alis by Calra Weiskopf and Nicolás van Hemelryck and Neighbour Abdi by Douwe Dijkstra, of which the jury said: “Although it deals with a serious subject, the film is one of the few films in the competition which presents the filmmaking process in a playful way, allowing both the protagonist and the filmmaker to have fun and by doing that to cope with the past traumas.” In their statement for Alis, the jury said: “A group of girls tell us a story about an imaginary friend and they take the audience on a journey through their past, present and the future. Made with huge trust among the filmmakers and the characters, this film makes you love the subjects and makes you think about their generation all over the world.”

In regional competition, the Big Stamp went to the film Matter out of Place, directed by Nikolaus Geyrhalter, and the decision was made by jury members Barbara Orlicz-Szczypuła, director of Krakow Film Festival, film critic Steve Rickinson and director Corina Schwingruber Ilić. The explained their decision, “A thought-provoking work of art that addresses our time’s most critical issue and the need for urgent solutions, this film offers its unique perspective by creating a distance between the viewer and the problem, revealing the alien and strange nature of waste. Through a signature detached yet observant eye, it offers a visual study of the global waste management issue, leaving the viewer engrossed in the absurdity of the problem and questioning how it came to be. Furthermore, the film's aesthetic approach, a mix of pictorial beauty and realism, adds to its power, reminding us that the problem is imminent, urgent, and massive.”

Special Mention in regional competition went to the Croatian-Dutch documentary Scenes with My Father by Biserka Šuran, which, “with a particular cinematic approach, the filmmaker gives us a different insight into the refugee story, seen from the perspective of two generations,” and Between Revolutions by Vlad Petri, “a touching and personal memoir of loyal friendship, constructed entirely from archival footage and a vibrant soundtrack, this film provides a subjective, feminine perspective on the struggles of fighting for a better future in societies crushed by repressive political regimes.”

Cash prizes for Big Stamps in international and regional competition, amounting to €1500, were sponsored by Aviteh.

Little Stamp for the best short film in competition, at the discretion of Ivan Ramljak, Christine Camdessus and Andrej Korovljev, went to the film Horror Vacui by Boris Poljak. The jury said in their explanation, “in carefully constructed long static shots, the author observes the displays of military power, not consciously knowing that he is having an unfortunate premonition. Although he is documenting collective rituals, he masterly manages to capture individual characters and emotions, even of a lonely caterpillar. Thus, creating a perfect picture of the fearful and anxious time that we live in.” Special mentions went to two films. The impact of the film Haulout by Yevgenia and Maxim Arbugaev, as the jury said, is at the same time so emotionally powerful and devastating that it leaves us speechless and reminds us, in an extraordinary way, of the responsibility we all bear, and Neighbour Abdi by Douwe Dijkstra, in a cleverly conceived manner through the multi-layered style that always keeps the audience engaged, are exposing a unique story of redemption.

For raising our awareness about the key themes of social oppression and authoritarianism, which are transmitted from generation to generation through the education system, as well as about its bold and political character and recognisable film language, the Movies That Matter Award for the achievement that best promotes human rights also went to the film Manifesto by Angie Vinchito. It was presented by a jury consisting of Luca D’Introno, historian Tvrtko Jakovina and journalist Snježana Pavić. With the war in Europe, speaking about deserting is truly subversive and that is why the special mention went to Damir Markovina and the film Deserters, speaking about the director’s generation of refugees from Mostar in the nineties. The Young Jury, consisting of Joren Slaets, Sigal Yehuda and Biljana Tutorov, gave the Small Stamp for best film by an author under 35 years of age, by a majority of votes, to Scenes with my Father by Biserka Šuran. Special Mentions went to the films Dream’s Gate by Negin Ahmadi and Wild Wounded Animals by Jakob Pagel Andersen. In their statement, the jury applauds the bravery and commitment of Negin Ahmadi. The subject is timely, important and uniquely relevant. Jakob Pagel Andersen’s film won the Special Mention for opening up emotionally in a way that men are usually derided for, and capturing his journey in a compelling visual language.

Members of the international film critics’ federation FIPRTESCI, Josip Jurčić, Maximilian Schäffer and Ana Šturm, gave the FIPRESCI Award to Paying a Visit to Fortuna by Mátyás Kálmán. Paying a Visit to Fortuna is a straightforward and compassionate documentary that treats its unordinary subjects with dignity and attentiveness. Kálmán takes his time to develop a genuine bond with his protagonists and manages to avoid sugar-coating them on one hand or exploiting their obvious failures on the other. Paying a Visit to Fortuna is a down-to-earth portrait of a fundamental human need to be loved and recognized.”

The Teen Dox Award, given to a film which best describes young people’s problems, was decided by students from the First Private High School Zagreb. Their award went to the short film Hardly Working by the pseudo-Marxist media guerrilla Total Refusal which explores and practices strategies of artistic intervention in contemporary computer games. In their statements, the students said, “This documentary about the virtual world represents the real world we live in. The film uses computer aesthetic, speaking about the background characters in video games, the so-called NPCs, underlining the issue of complex human relationships. The different levels of creating meaning make this film interesting to all generations of viewers, raising the questions of normality and freedom.” Tolyatti Adrift by Laura Sisteró won the Teen Dox jury’s Special Mention, for its “powerful scenes that follow the destinies of young people in a Russian metropolis on the brink of collapse. Their story is presented in universal conflicts of the old and the new, the past and the present, despair and hope.”

The Honorary Stamp award, which is awarded to authors who have been present and decisive in documentary filmmaking for years, even decades, with the quality of their works, and is awarded by festival director Nenad Puhovski, this year goes to an author who, for a relatively modest opus of only nine films, managed not only to win around thirty awards already among them include the Golden Lion in Venice, the Golden Bear at the Berlinale, an award from the European Film Academy, an award at Cinéma du Réel, being nominated for an Oscar and – receiving the Big Stamp in Regional Competition at ZagrebDox. It is the Italian director Gianfranco Rosi, whose films Below Sea Level, Sacro Gra, Fire at Sea, Notturno and In viaggio, which was shown at this year’s ZagrebDox, have long since become an integral part of European documentary film heritage.