International documentary film festival
April 14 - 21, 2024
Kaptol Boutique Cinema, Zagreb

20th ZagrebDox awards presented


20th ZagrebDox awards presented

On Saturday, April 20, starting at 6:15 pm, the winning films of the anniversary, twentieth edition of the ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival were announced at the awards ceremony. At the festival, which opened last Sunday in Kaptol Boutique Cinema, the audience had the opportunity to see as many as 102 films in twelve segments, and nineteen films competed for the official festival award, Big Stamp, in international i.e. twenty-one films in regional competition.

The international jury consisting of Valerie Blankenbyl, Lea Glob and Hrvoje Hribar awarded the Big Stamo to the film Four Daughters, by Kaouther Ben Hania. “Four Daughters is a film that doesn’t only beautifully depict the almost unbelievable story of Olfa and her daughters. It creates a space in which these incredibly courageous and resilient protagonists can explore their own story with the help of actors, a stage and scripted scenes, drawn from their own experiences. The openness and vulnerability that we see through this setup are a rare gift. The film is brave and deeply effective in making us understand the simultaneousness of light and dark, both in human nature and the lives that Olfa and her daughters live.” A special mention went to the film A New Kind of Wilderness by Silje Evensmo Jacobsen, and the jury’s explanation reads: “A New Kind of Wilderness affected us deeply. We witness a family confronted with loss and the following deconstruction of the perfectly instagrammable family bliss. While remaining true to her beautifully cinematic style, the closeness of the filmmaker to the Payne family and the depth in which she managed to depict grief and learning to live alongside grief impressed and moved us, as did the question of how long one can upkeep the parents’ ideals and values in the face of changing realities.”

In regional competition, the Big Stamp went to the film KIX by Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész, and the decision was made by the Regional Jury consisting of Alessandro Stellino, Enes Midžić and Tomislav Mršić. The jury explained their decision: “What started as a playful game for the film crew and the protagonist of this cinematic tour de force shot over the course of 12 years became a powerful and touching statement on the process of growing up and taking responsibility in our absent society, both as individuals and a collectivity. The prize for the Regional competition of the 20th edition of Zagrebdox goes to KIX by Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész.” The special mention in regional competition went to Kumnjana Novakova’s Silence of Reason, “For the necessary act of restoring a terrible truth with sharing the testimonies of the women that went through one of the darkest periods in recent history and for being a warrant to the collapse of humanity that every war brings with itself.”

The Small Stamp for best short film from the competition, which was decided by Miljenka Čogelja, Tue Steen Müller and Tomislav Pavlic, went to Lucija Brkić’s film In Transit. “Using a direct documentary language, the director captures the work of a colourful, charismatic young woman who wants to help migrants in need on their way to an uncertain future. It is a film full of talented observation and compassion that conveys moments of one of the biggest problems facing Europe today,” explains the jury’s decision. A special mention went to the film Boy by Vladimir Loginov, which won over the jury with its thoughtful concept and simplicity. “Despite its minimalist approach, the film manages to be gentle and cruel at the same time, and the audiovisual treatment of its carefully selected protagonist effectively leaves a bitter aftertaste of the tragedy of human destinies in times of war.”

The Movies That Matter award, for the achievement that promotes human rights in the best way, was awarded by the jury composed of: Tihomir Ponoš, Vedrana Pribačić and Tatjana Vlašić, and went to the film Dahomey, directed by Matti Diop. “The return of 26 artworks to Benin opens the questions of (post-)colonial heritage and identity, and national perspectives. How much are the young aware of tradition and culture kept in a former colonial metropolis, if they grew up on Tom and Jerry? To some, this is a patriotic act, to others a populist government move and an insult, to others French whitewashing. A society trapped in a colonial matrix manifesting itself also in the French language they speak. The film portrays possibilities for societal development and constructing hope through the universal topic of a quest for community identity. Dramaturgy, cinematography and innovative directing procedures serve to depict all the layers of the subject matter.” Special mention went to the film Total Trust, directed by Jialing Zhang. “The film focuses on the technological dystopia of the present, with an even worse perspective of the future. A total control over an individual and their private life via technology abolishes the society and any re-examination of the system. China is the most prominent example, and similar processes take place in the most liberated countries as well. It is not the government that is key for surveillance, it is the mass voluntarily taking place in it. In such a system human rights fighters are particularly hurt, because they are the biggest enemy of the system.”

The young jury, which comprised Snježana Banović, Hrvoje Osvadić and Biserka Šuran, awarded the Small Stamp for the best film by a young author under the age of 35, and the award was given to the film KIX by Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész by the decision of the majority of the jury members. “The film we decided to honour won us over with its honest and gentle relationships between the author and the protagonists. A masterfully portrayed freedom of growing up and the beauty stemming from the relationship between the author and the protagonists captivated us to the point of feeling a deep connection with them. Until the very end of the film we cheered for them and their not so happy life.” Anja Koprivšek’s film Grand Prize won a special mention: “A special mention goes to the author who showed a lot of love and respect to her protagonists and established trust that introduced us into a world we never knew existed. We are grateful to the author for letting us into this world and enriching us with this knowledge. We give the special mention to the director of Grand Prize, Anja Koprivšek, and the entire ballroom scene in Croatia,” the jury explained.

Members of the international federation of film critics FIPRESCI, Igor Angjelkov, Hamed Soleimanzadeh and Milena Zajović, presented the award of the same name to the film KIX. “For its creative process of discovering the hidden life of street kids, the brave approach to understanding the new generation's complexes, unique way of storytelling about actions and consequences, stunning editing, and brilliant cinematography, but also the visceral portrayal of the class inequalities and the subtle recognition of the rise of populism in the European societies.”

The Teen Dox award, which is given to a film from the program of the same name that speaks in the best way about the issues that occupy young people, was decided by the students of Zagreb's 16th high school: Mara Jakić, Zora Fabijanac, Nika Igrec, Kali Martinović, Eva Župarić, Klara Perović, Lucija Marketin, Vida Novosel, Ida Borić, Ivna Salečić, Katja Galunić and Irma Korkut. The award was won by Mariusz Rusiński’s film, Sister of Mine, and Sylvain Cruiziat’s Boyz received a special mention. “This year the Teen Dox category had many truly outstanding films and it was not easy to decide on the winner. Despite that, our choice stands out in the crowd because it very authentically and honestly portrays the extremely frequent problem of addiction among teenagers, underlining the devastating effect on a family. In a very intimate way, the film depicts the feelings of all the family members, opening the door to their living spaces. The documentary centres around uncensored conversations among family members, revealing the dark side of growing up with addition. The documentary Sister of Mine by Polish director Mariusz Rusinski deeply shocked us and reminded us of the ever-present problems of the young population. Therefore, we give it the best Teen Dox film award. Since the competition was really tough, we give the special mention to a film which maturely portrays three boys’ friendship. With its powerful shots, the film immerses the viewers into adolescent minds, revealing the problems and fears related to growing up and revealing one’s own sexuality. We give the special mention to Boyz by Sylvain Cruiziat.”

The Honorary Big Stamp, which is given to authors whose quality of work has been present and crucial in documentary filmmaking for years, even decades, and is awarded by the festival’s artistic director Nenad Puhovski, went to the German director Werner Herzog: “I picked Werner Herzog’s film White Diamond as the first ever ZagrebDox opening film, wanting to show the audience, used thus far only to standard television documentaries, the power of auteur, poetic, dramatic, feature-length documentary. It is a story, as it is with Herzog, about the clash between a man’s dream and the power of nature. In this case it is the British Zeppelin builder embarking on a journey to giant waterfalls in the heart of Guiana, hoping he will fly with his ‘ship’ above the treetops. However, this modern-day Icarus carries a secret he gradually reveals in the film - a similar expedition ended in a disaster when his friend plunged to his death. With outstanding cinematography, accompanied by an amazing soundtrack, this film has in many aspects defined the trend ZagrebDox has moved and evolved in. So with great pleasure we give it a belated Honorary Big Stamp,” says Nenad Puhovski in his explanation.


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