Smart, Entertaining and Irresistibly Sweet-Toned ZagrebDox Documentaries


The 19th ZagrebDox features new editions of audience’s favourite programme sections. Happy Dox and Musical Globe return and with flying colours!

What ZagrebDox knows very well from the very beginning is the fact that documentary films are capable of great many things. Documentaries can make people think, cry, dance, sing and laugh. Over the past years the general atmosphere has made documentary filmmakers turn to difficult topics, serious content and engaged views. However hard it may be, a hint of optimism always finds a way – and a smile breaks on our faces again. And just like that, like an unexpected smile, old, much beloved programme sections reappear in the 19th ZagrebDox line-up.

Happy Dox is make a grand comeback in 2023! The selection team, chaired by Nenad Puhovski, this year had a reason not only to smile, but also to laugh. A large number of films among the submitted entries in the end reduced to several titles among which the best known is definitely The Pawnshop. It arrives from Poland, directed by Łukasz Kowalski, and has already toured global festivals. Copenhagen, Nyon, Leipzig, Lisbon and Tel Aviv are only some of the cities it has seduced with its bitter-sweet, dark humoured array of peculiar characters revolving around one place: the largest Polish pawnshop. A Bunch of Amateurs is another Happy Dox title, also teeming with unusual characters. They are film lovers, their knees snap at the very thought of walking, but nothing can stop them, not even Covid. Persistent in watching and making films, relentless in the optimism harboured only by true aficionados, true film amateurs. No less entertaining is Duncan Cowles’s film Desired Lines, about the human irreparable inclination to shortcuts. To become accomplished in one of the most beautiful roles in life, the parenting role, sometimes we cannot use shortcuts, but we surely can cope with such situations in life with a lot of wit and gentle humour, as the Danish autobiographical documentary An Eternity of You and Me by Sanne This tells us. The political conflict between Poland and Czech Republic over a coal mine inspired the documentary Everything’s Fine, Potatoes in Line by Piotr Jasiński, made in co-production of the two countries, which bets illustrates the power of documentary cinema. The film will teach everything you always wanted to know about… potato salad? Much fewer potatoes, but a whole bunch of emotions arrive from Finland, in the film Karaoke Paradise. The Finns have found a suitable way to conquer loneliness and it includes a microphone and a song. Director Einari Paakkanen has made a brilliant film, and speaking of singing…

This year’s ZagrebDox announces the most melodious of all the sections: Musical Globe! Cinemas are not perfect places for playing music and dancing, but they sure are for listening! Musical Globe features Nothing Compares by Kathryn Ferguson about the one and only Sinead O’Connor and her lasting cultural influence. The documentary Sirens by Rita Baghdadi, a Lebanese-American co-production, follows girls from the outskirts of Beirut, Lilas and Shery, on their way to become thrash metal rock stars. And what kind of a music list would this be without Irish stalwarts? A bad one. For that reason we’re screening Luke McManus’s multi award-winning North Circular, which uses authentic Irish music to reveal layers and layers of Dublin, the city which has become very close to us in the past years. As close Dublin is, that far is Mali, Africa. But only geographically” Markus Schmidt’s Mali 70 connects contemporary German musicians with African big band masters in search of the almost ungraspable rhythmic subtleties in a disarming documentary. Is the song Bella Ciao a hymn of Italian partisans who fought against fascism in World War II, or was it a folk song sung by the exploited workers in Italy’s rice fields, or is a song’s origin less important than what the song means to those who sing it? Bella Ciao by Italian director Giulia Giapponesi tells us the story about the song which has for decades symbolised fight against injustice. The song Bella Ciao is not the last documentary protagonist of this year’s Musical Globe – Croatian envoys are also present, but more about them another time!