Don't Miss at 19th ZagrebDox


At this year's edition of ZagrebDox, a carefully selected program of 116 short and long documentaries in 12 categories awaits us.

The beginning of the largest regional documentary film festival, ZagrebDox, is approaching, and a carefully selected programme of 116 short and feature-length documentaries in 12 categories awaits us. Choosing only some of the films that will be screened at the nineteenth ZagrebDox is a difficult task, since these are all mostly very successful documentaries that deal with a wide range of relevant topics. Nevertheless, some films stand out, both for their artistic refinement and relevance, and for numerous awards at prestigious international film festivals.

The war events in Ukraine and the latest threats to world peace have turned many documentarians to the topic they have been dealing with since the very beginnings of filmmaking, in a variety of ways: from participation on the front line to intimate, poetic essays.                                                            

Filmed with video cameras and mobile phones, Eastern Front, a film by Vitaly Mansky and Yevhen Titarenko, brings us the experiences of a first aid squad of volunteers on the front line as they rescue those in danger and evacuate the wounded. Eastern Front depicts six months of drama, despair, fear, hatred, resentment, love and, most importantly, faith in victory, and was screened at this year’s Berlinale and Artdocfest Riga. Rojek, Zaynê Akyol’sdocumentary, attempts to show the beginning, rise and fall of the Islamic State through the personal stories of some of its most important members who are currently imprisoned in camps in Syrian Kurdistan and share the same dream of establishing a caliphate. The film received a special mention from the jury at last year's Hot Docs, the New Voices Award at the Gimli IFF, but also a special mention at the Ji.Hlava and Yerevan IFF festivals.

The hybrid documentary essay Deserters by Damir Markovina tells us about a generation of Bosnian high school students from the city of Mostar affected by the devastating war on the threshold of adulthood. This mosaic of memories from the early nineties is composed of contemporary postcards and silent shots of places where wars were once fought, and which the film's protagonists were forced to leave. It is a film about a lost generation, exile, difficult choices and the answer to the most difficult question of every war: to stay or to leave? The film was awarded at the Ji.hlava festival.

For a long time, ecology has not been something that only ecologists or green activists deal with. This year, ZagrebDox has dedicated an entire section, GreenDox, to this inevitable topic, and these films will inspire us, worry us a little, but also, in the manner of full-blooded documentaries, encourage us to change our own behaviour.

One such film, which brings a story of courage and resistance and inspires action, is Delikado by Karl Malakunas. The plot follows three impressive leaders of a network of environmental warriors and fighters, who, using sometimes extreme means, risk their lives to stop politicians and businessmen from destroying the Philippines' last ecological frontier. Delikado shows how politicians are using the war on drugs to control economic and political power. It is the winner of the Sustainable Future Award at the Sidney FF and the special mention of the jury at the LA Asian Pacific Festival.

The fire that ravaged north-eastern Siberia in the summer of 2021 due to an exceptional heat wave and drought and devastated an incredible 19 million hectares of land is the subject of the documentary Paradise, directed by Alexander Abaturov. In that area, in the heart of the taiga, is the village of Shologon, which will soon be covered by a thick cloud of smoke. Carried by the wind, the black ash brings disturbing news: the forest is burning and the fire is fast approaching. Residents do not expect any help from the government because Shologon is located on the edge of the "controlled zone", an area where the authorities do not have to suppress forest fires if the cost of extinguishing them would be greater than the cost of the estimated damage. Left to their own devices, the villagers join forces. The film won the award for best cinematography at one of the world's most important documentary festivals, IDFA.

Fashion Reimagined, directed by Becky Hutner, screened at numerous renowned festivals, such as Tribeca FF, Sheffield Doc /Fest, Edinburgh IFF, Sydney FF, Melbourne IFF, but also winner of the award for best documentary at Woods Hole FF, is the story of a rising star on the London fashion scene Amy Powney, the owner of the brand Mother of Pearl. Raised in rural England by activist parents, Amy has always felt uneasy about the fashion industry's destructive impact on the environment. When she wins Vogue's Young Designer of the Year award, which comes with a hefty cash prize, Amy decides to use the money to create a sustainable field-to-garment collection and transform her entire business. Over the next three years, her personal revolution becomes a precursor to a much larger social change.

As a result of the increasingly present process of raising awareness and strengthening gender rights, a number of extremely good, powerful and inspiring documentaries dealing with this topic have been created in recent years. ZagrebDox is showing some of the most interesting ones again this year.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, by the Oscar winner Laura Poitras, nominated for this year's Oscar in the feature documentary category, but also winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, is an emotional story about the internationally known artist and activist Nan Goldin told through her slideshows, intimate interviews, but also the fight against the Sackler family, which she holds responsible for the opiate crisis caused with OxyContin.

The multiple award-winning documentary by the Danish director Lea Glob, Apolonia, Apolonia, follows the efforts of a young woman,Apolonia, to find her place in the artistic world over many years. As time passes, and a special bond is born between Apollonia and the director, we witness the creation of the film and the acquisition of fame as a painter. Thirteen years later, two women are still figuring out their own paths in this powerful film about art, love, motherhood, sexuality, and how to succeed in a world ruled by patriarchy, capitalism, and war without losing yourself. The film won the award for the best feature documentary at the prestigious IDFA, as well as the Dragon Award at the Gothenburg Film Festival.

Blue ID, a film by Burcu Melekoğlu and Vuslat Karan, won the audience award at IDFA, andfollows Rüzgar Erkoçlara, a famous Turkish soap opera actress who decides to undergo gender reassignment. Although she believed that she would go unnoticed and that she would manage to resocialize herself as an anonymous man, the former music producer, now a celebrity from social networks, denounced her on Twitter in front of his 1.2 million followers. These circumstances led him to search for an identity in the eyes of the public and the great attention of the media. Blue ID is a film about the search for love and acceptance and true self-identity in order to live an authentic life.

Biographical documentaries are always particularly interesting. What separates the people about whom they are filmed from the crowd are incredible life stories or exceptional professional works, but also individuality, which is nurtured and built, sometimes with a good, sometimes with a tragic, but always fascinating ending.

Merkel, by Eva Weber  tells the impressive story of how a triple political outsider – woman, scientist and East German – became the first German chancellor and a de facto significant world leader. Using extensive archival materials and interviews with those who knew her, the film presents a rich portrait of Angela Merkel, from growing up in East Germany, studying quantum chemistry, to her sudden entry into politics and her rapid rise. It reminds us of how she succeeded despite the double standards regarding women in leadership positions and explains politics characterised by truth and integrity. It is a thoughtful look at her life and career from both a domestic and an international perspective, imbued with humour, subtlety and sharpness as befits this topic.

Jonathan Shaw, the son of jazz musician Artie Shaw and Hollywood starlet Doris Dowling, is the main protagonist of the film Scab Vendor by Lucas de Barros and Marian Thomas. After nearly dying of a heroin overdose in his twenties, he became one of New York's most sought-after tattoo artists. Delving deep into the character's psyche, the documentary explores how one man, at the peak of his tattooing career, decided to give up the lifestyle of the rich and famous in order to break his own vicious cycle. Among others, Johnny Depp, Jim Jarmusch and Iggy Pop talk about the film's protagonist.

A documentary by Christopher Sharp, Bobi Wine: The People's President, follows the Ugandan opposition leader and national music star as he risks his own life and the lives of his wife and children in the ghettos of Kampala in the fight against the ruthless regime of Yoweri Museveni. In his struggle, Wine uses music to denounce the dictatorial regime, but he also has to confront the police and the army, who do not stop at violence and torture in a vain attempt to intimidate and silence him and his supporters. This film is an epic and exciting drama about power, vanity and democracy. It won the audience award at the Hamptons IFF, and has been screened at numerous festivals, such as Venice FF, IDFA, BFI London FF, Telluride FF and CPH:DOX.

Tickets for this year's ZagrebDox can be purchased at the ticket office of the Kaptol Boutique Cinema & Bar in the Kaptol Center at Nova Ves 17 during ticket office hours, at the ticket machines in the lobby of the cinema and online at Ticket reservations are not possible. The ticket price for screenings at 3:30 pm is 4 euros, for screenings at 5, 5:30, 7, 7:30, 9 and 10 pm, 4.9 euros, and for screenings from the Teen Dox program, 3.5 euros.

The price of tickets for The Best of Fest program on Sunday, April 2, for all six screenings is 11 euros, and for an individual screening, 3.8 euros. Tickets for The Best of Fest can be purchased exclusively at the Kaptol Boutique Cinema & Bar box office. The detailed schedule of screenings in The Best of Fest event will be announced on Saturday, April 1, at 8 p.m. Screenings at 3 p.m. (Monday to Friday) are free, just like the retrospective sections Author's Night: Igor Bezinović, H-15: Fifteen Years of Croatian Cinema and 70 Years of Zagreb Film: Documenting the Wild. Tickets for free screenings can only be picked up on the day of the screening at the ticket office of the Kaptol Boutique Cinema & Bar in the Kaptol Center during regular ticket office hours. One person can collect a maximum of two free tickets per screening. Tickets are issued until capacity is filled.

Entry to ZagrebDox Pro and Special Events is free, without pre-booking a ticket.

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