×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Dubrovnik fest has uphill battle

Event suffered from inadequate promotion, logistical glitches

DUBROVNIK — Organizers of the third edition of the Dubrovnik Film Fest (May 25-29) admit they have their work cut out to make local auds respond as warmly to the program as the invited guests did to the beautiful host city on Croatia’s Adriatic Riviera.

Career kudos went to thesps Christopher Walken and Emily Watson and helmer Peter Medak. Walken said he and his wife, “The Sopranos” casting director Georgianne Walken, were pleased to attend because they had long wanted to visit Dubrovnik. Their interest was refueled by the historic city’s ongoing tourist renaissance 10 years after the end of the Balkan war, in which it was struck by more than 2,000 shells.

Watson and Medak also raved about the fortified Old City’s architectural charms (recently showcased doubling for Venice in BBC miniseries “Casanova”), but burg’s 47,000 residents were totally underwhelmed by the festival. There was single-figure paid attendance at some screenings for the eight-film international feature competition, based in the 200-seat, municipal Sloboda cinema. Turnout was equally low for out-of-competition special screenings and recent Croatian docs at the adjacent Marin Drzic Theater, a mid-19th-century legit venue.

This was stark proof of the assertion by fest’s Los Angeles-based director Ziggy Mrkich that “there is no film culture” in Dubrovnik, a locale with a long tradition of theater and classical music performance, including a summer festival of live arts heading toward its 56th edition.

Resistance to non-Hollywood pics in Croatia is not confined to Dubrovnik — theatrical market share for domestic features nationally is pegged around 2% — but the situation was exacerbated by manifestly inadequate on-site promotion for Dubrovnik Festival screenings.

The event, funded largely by the Croatian Ministry of Culture, Dubrovnik Tourist Board and the city council, also suffered multiple logistical glitches, including last-minute alterations to screening times and discussion panel venues. Croatian subtitles for the opening film, Charles Dance’s “Ladies in Lavender,” cut out after first 30 minutes.

Substantial improvements to organization and marketing will have to be made if Mrkich, a former Touchstone Pictures production staffer born to Croatian parents, is to build a local audience and compete with other Croatian fests, such as Motovun (August) and Zagreb (October). Biggest national film showcase by far remains the 52-year-old event in Pula in July, when the entire annual output of new domestic features is screened in a 7,500-seat Roman arena.

Dubrovnik competition honors went to Brit helmer Juliet McKeon’s drama “Frozen” (film and dinematography). Best director was Poland’s Ryszard Brylski for “Zhoorek,” and Croatia’s Dana Budisavljevic took the documentary award for “Everything Is Excellent,” about a porn actress.

More Film

  • Aaron Paul attends the 2019 Sun

    Aaron Paul, Chelsea Handler and Meg Ryan Topline Sun Valley Film Fest

    Aaron Paul is an Idaho boy at heart. The three-time Emmy winning star of “Breaking Bad” and producer and actor on Nickelodeon’s bawdy, subversive animated series “Bojack Horseman” currently makes his home in Los Angeles, but Paul was born in Emmett, a sleepy city about 30 miles outside of Boise, and escapes to the spud [...]

  • Writers Guild Blasts CAA, WME for

    Writers Guild Blasts Talent Agencies CAA, WME for 'Soaring' Profits

    The Writers Guild of America has singled out Hollywood’s largest talent agencies, William Morris Endeavor and Creative Artists Agency, for allegedly soaring profits. The WGA, in an acrimonious negotiation over proposed new rules about how agencies represent writers, issued a report called “agencies for sale” on Monday morning — a few hours before a fifth [...]

  • MGM logo

    MGM Hires Robert Marick to Expand Consumer Products

    Metro Goldwyn Mayer has hired industry veteran Robert Marick as executive VP of global consumer products and experiences. In his new role, Marick is responsible for overseeing the expansion of MGM’s traditional merchandise, interactive and consumer products business. He’s also developing a global strategy with a focus on core consumer products licensing, digital and gaming, [...]

  • Robert Iger and Rupert Murdochcredit: Disney

    Wall Street Applauds as Disney Nears Finish Line on Fox Acquisition

    Wall Street is rooting for Disney as the media giant reaches the finish line this week in its 15-month quest to acquire most of Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV empire. Fox shareholders, on the other hand, are being a little more cautious. Disney is poised to close the $71.3 billion deal that took many twists [...]

  • Personal Tales From Hong Kong, China

    Personal Tales From Hong Kong and China Among the Asia Film Financing Forum Projects

    A brace of personal tales from China and Hong Kong are among the 23 projects vying for attention at the 17th Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. Liu Miaomiao is a rare female ethnic Hui Muslim filmmaker. She came to international prominence with 1993’s “Chatterbox” that won the President of the Italian Senate’s Gold Medal [...]

  • Josie Ho Makes 2019 the Year

    Josie Ho Makes 2019 the Year She Takes Risks in Her Film Choices

    Josie Ho vows to master the art of calculated risk in the year 2019. As an actress and film producer, she is conscious of the choices of projects she makes: appearing in the new film by Japanese hotshot director Shinichiro Ueda, producing a new documentary feature while developing some 10 titles in the pipeline of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content