Trash metal in Beirut (a Sundance winner), Vitić’s skyscraper and its tenants, animated Chinese hackers and a famous comic book author against the police, ‘beautiful’ footage of terrible fires, a wild Russian manifesto, a portrait of a young female artist (an IDFA winner), Herzog, Poitras and other award-winners. A festival heaven(d) to remember.
Yesterday’s visit to the festival cinemas heralded an exciting Saturday in the best way, culminating with the award ceremony at 6:30 pm. Award-winning films will be shown in three theatres on Sunday in The Best of Fest section, the schedule of which will be announced today in the evening. But Saturday at ZagrebDox is anything but ‘ceremonial’ – on the contrary, it is the most visited day of the festival, which is why particularly attractive titles are included in the programme. In addition to Oscar winners and candidates (Herzog, Poitras, the Arbugaev siblings), we especially highlight the winners of Sundance and IDFA (Sirens; Apolonia, Apolonia), an animated documentary in the style of a famous comic author who participated in the hacking of Chinese state television (Eternal Spring), a film about Ivan Vitić’s skyscraper and its renovation (Vitić Dances) and the cinematographically perfectly captured Siberian fires (Paradise).
We start at 3 pm with Oscar winner Laura Poitras’s new film All the Beauty and the Bloodshed about the photographer and activist Nan Goldin and her fight against the Purdue Pharma company (theatre 2, International Competition), a unique ‘travelogue’ on the theatre stages where young people express their hopes in Dreaming Arizona by the Danish documentary magician Jon Bang Carlsen (theatre 5) and Girl Gang by Susanna Regina Meures, a teen doc about a successful teenage influencer whose life also has a dark side (theatre 4).
At 3:30 pm, the last film of the new Green Doxsection, Paradise by Alexander Abaturov (theatre 1) was awarded at the prestigious IDFA for the best cinematography filming the great Siberian fires – in an area where the state is not obliged to put them out, so it must be taken on locally population. In theatre 3 in International Competition, the Brazilian-Portuguese Dry Ground Burning (dir. Joana Pimenta, Adirley Queirós) takes us to a self-governing illegal refinery near Brasília, to a ‘plant of resistance’ to Bolsonaro and the political elites.
At 5 pm, also in International Competition, two blocks of outstanding titles will be screened: Subtotal (dir. Mohammadreza Farzad), an Iranian family 8mm film essay, and Alis (dir. Clare Weiskopf, Nicolás van Hemelryck), about Colombian girls on guided imagination therapy (theatre 2), i.e. the Oscar candidate Haulout about arctic walruses (dir. Yevgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev), the Nordicly expressive and direct Wild Wounded Animals about a father’s ‘postpartum depression’ (dir. Jakob Pagel Andersen) and Aralkum (dir. Mila Zhluktenko, Asadi Faezi), an artistic review of the transformation of the Aral Sea into a desert and the consequences for the local population (theatre 4). In Regional Competition in theatre 5, another great film cocktail is offered, this time followed by Q&A’s with the authors: the Serbian Mother’s Milk (dir. Isaac Knights-Washbourn) about a dairy woman who navigates between the pressure of heredity and new life choices, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian-American ‘spatial’ reminiscence of Dayton Hope Hotel Phantom (dir. Bojan Stojčić) and the nostalgic-family Silence of the Banana Trees (dir. Eneos Çarka).
At 7 pm in theatre 2, the Musical Globe stops at the Lebanese Sirens (dir. Rita Baghdadi), winner of the main jury prize at the Sundance festival. This story of a trash metal guitarist from the outskirts of Beirut who struggles with the restrictions imposed by the civil war is only shown today and should not be missed.
This, however, could be demanding because at the same time theatre 4 screens Boris Bakal’s long-awaited Vitić Dances, a film that has been in the making for years based on the Shadow Casters project. The director who once lived in this work of art by the famous architect not only documented, but also participated in the fight for its restoration. Boris Bakal will discuss all of the above with the audience after the screening.
Theatre 5 gives the second and last chance for Damir Markovina’s intimate, epistolary-photographic reminiscences of his interrupted youth in Mostar in Deserters, combined with the indoor football encounters between soldiers in Gorana Jovanović’s Balls and Ukrainian students in the Belgian film When I Grow Up by Claire Billet and Olivier Jobard, who will have a chat with the audience after the screening.
At 7:30 pm in theatre 1 Eternal Spring (dir. Jason Loftus) is a Canadian animated film about Chinese activists and practitioners of the ancient discipline Falun Gong, whose hacking of state television in 2002 led to a fierce police response. The film was created in a combination of animation that evokes the style of comic book author and member of this group Daxiong (Justice League, Star Wars) and newly filmed documentary scenes.
In International Competition in theatre 3, Apolonia, Apolonia by Lea Glob is scheduled, a joint portrait of the female artists (the director and the title painter) in youth and maturity, and the best IDFA film about which Lea Glob will talk to the audience after the screening.
At 9 pm in theatre 2, Werner Herzog, in his well-known style of philosophical narration based on the archival legacy of distinctive protagonists, takes us to the world’s largest volcanoes in The Fire Within: Requiem for Katia and Maurice Krafft. At the same time, hall 4 in the International Competition is showing a film that was much talked about in the festival corridors – Angie Vinchito’s Russian Manifesto gathered brutal videos of the teenagers there into a painful found footage reflection of the generation. In theatre 5, in a slightly more relaxed tone, we are addressed by Argentine butchers (A Robust Heart, dir. Martín Benchimol) and a queer director from the cocaine metropolis of Medellín (Anhell69, dir. Theo Montoya).
The official programme of ZagrebDox will conclude with screenings at 10 pm: the Croatian post-new wave rock From All the Power (dir. Dimitar Dimitrovski Diba) (theatre 1) and the peculiar The Adventures of Gigi the Law (dir. Alessandro Comodin) (theatre 3) who will take us in his police car to the closure of the 19th International Documentary Film Festival.
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