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

Improved knowledge, expanded horizons, opened hearts – 20th ZagrebDox ends


Improved knowledge, expanded horizons, opened hearts – 20th ZagrebDox ends

It was a very special, celebratory festival edition which, in addition to presenting the best of recent world documentaries, also reminisced about ZagrebDox’s rich past. As is fitting when it comes to anniversaries, there were a few surprises, so the managers of ZagrebDox, Nenad Puhovski and Hrvoje Pukšec, were ‘promoted’ to artistic and executive director of the festival, and professor Puhovski, in addition to a denim shirt with the ZagrebDox logo, also received a special stamp for his contribution to the Festival itself, but also to the film and cultural milieu of Croatia and this part of Europe. The festival had excellent attendance, a large number of screenings were sold out, and more than a hundred guests came from all over the world – from Armenia and Iran to the USA. The special feature of this festival edition, which we believe will become a standard, is the large number of female directors who presented their films at ZagrebDox, as well as the huge interest in DoXXL programs, whether it was discussing labour rights, fashion, peace in Gaza, deepfake technology or the consequences of sexual violence.

ZagrebDox opened its festival doors for the first time on February 21, 2005 with the film White Diamond by the great Werner Herzog. It was this ‘dox master’, a good friend of the ZagrebDox audience, who was awarded the Big Stamp for life’s work. Herzog’s films are characterized by a surreal and subtle exoticism, and he is praised as one of the most innovative contemporary directors. His protagonists are dreamers, conquerors, often faced with loneliness and deep longings, and Herzog’s own approach to capturing cinematic truth is very specific, so he often says of his documentaries that they are a kind of ‘ecstatic truth’.

In the eight days of the festival, viewers had the opportunity to watch 102 documentaries distributed in 12 program segments.

The Jury awarded the Big Stamp for the best film from International Competition to the film Four Daughters, directed by Kaouther Ben Hania, while in Regional Competition the Big Stamp went to the film KIX by Dávid Mikulán and Bálint Révész.

The closing film, No Other Land, directed by Basel Adra, Hamdan Ballal, Yuval Abraham and Rachel Szor, won the Aviteh Audience Award and was rated with a great average rating of 4.91. The film, signed by the Palestinian-Israeli collective of four young activists, was created in the darkest and most terrible times in the region, as an act of creative resistance to apartheid. It is a cinematic search for the path to equality and justice.

“Many will certainly be surprised when I say that the greatest achievement of this year’s, anniversary, twentieth ZagrebDox – business as usual, is the fact that we continued on the path we set out in 2005, without major ‘rebranding’ and ‘makeover’, despite extreme temperature shocks and – the parliamentary elections, which, of course, we didn’t know about when we planned the festival dates,” said Nenad Puhovski, and added: “I’m not sure that many people still remember that, but we are the only Croatian and regional one, and one of the few European festivals in general who managed to hold the festival completely ‘live’ during the Covid epidemic, i.e. without showing films online, albeit on a somewhat reduced scale. We did this following our belief that the festival is above all a meeting place – viewers with films, viewers with authors, viewers with viewers, authors with authors. I think I can say that we were right. Our audience has rewarded us with their trust, constant growth and loyalty – according to preliminary results, this year we will have about 20% more viewers than last year. The arrival of a new, younger audience is particularly pleasing. I usually jokingly say that it was time to include more Instagram, Twitter, and even TikTok generations in addition to Facebook viewers. And that happened this year. Perhaps this is due to our new website, which for the first time has its own version for mobile devices, a new, attractive festival design, and the space of the Kaptol Center as a kind of ‘safe place’ and shelter from storms and down-to-earth politics. Therefore, if there is something that defines us, it is constant, small, sometimes hardly noticeable changes, and - above all - the best world, regional and Croatian documentaries. With this, and I hope that we will continue to do so in the future, we have earned the trust of the audience, filmmakers and the general public,” concludes Puhovski.

Executive director and producer Hrvoje Pukšec adds: “From an organizational point of view, the 20th ZagrebDox was a very demanding challenge for everyone in the organization, and therefore we are proud of the fact that all screenings were technically flawless, that the audience visited the Kaptol Boutique cinema in large numbers and that the production team responsible for all that brought the Festival to an end without significant problems. We are ready for the new challenges that await us in the project called ZagrebDox 2025!”

The value of this festival is not only in broadening horizons, screenings of films that have won the most important world film awards, or numerous world-renowned authors who visit ZagrebDox year after year. The value also lies in the people who, with their selfless contribution, make this festival truly great – the volunteers. It doesn’t often happen that someone takes annual leave to volunteer at a film festival, as is the case with ZagrebDox, and the fact that one female volunteer has become a permanent member of the ZagrebDox team testifies to the fact that the flame of enthusiasm that ignited two decades ago the spark of love for documentary films still smoulders.

ZagrebDox took place with the support of the City of Zagreb, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the Kultura nova Foundation, the Croatian Film Directors Guild and the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb.

See you at the 21st ZagrebDox!


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