Croatian pics in the spotlight at Pula

Fest has seven local films in competition

LONDON — Croatian cinema will be in focus for a week when the 55th edition of the Pula Film Festival opens Saturday (19th July) in the Adriatic coastal city.

With open-air screenings in a Roman amphitheatre, as well as at the newly refurbished festival cinema, the Valli — named after Pula-born actress Alida Valli, who played a loyal lover to a hardened criminal in British director Carol Reed’s 1949 classic “The Third Man” — festival organizers are hoping to put the event more firmly on the international calendar.

This year’s festival is the first since the launch of a new national film promotion body, the Croatian Audio-Visual Center, which backers hope will attract more interest to national film and location and production opportunities in the small south-east European former Yugoslav republic.

As a focus for national film, the Pula festival screens seven Croatian films in competition this year, with an international competition section of 13 films, mostly Croatian premieres, although one — Maria Perovic’s “Look At Me,” a Montenegro-Croatia-Slovenia coprod — is a world premiere.

The national competition lineup is: “Will Not End Here” by Vinko Bresan, “Behind the Glass” (dir, Zrinko Ogresta), “No One’s Son” (dir, Arsen Anton Ostojic), “Kino Lika” (dir, Dalibor Matanic), “Buick Riviera” (dir, Goran Rusinovic), “Three Stories About Sleeplessness” (dir, Tomislav Radic) and “Remember Vukovar” (dir, Fadil Hadzic).

International competition films include Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s thriller “The Unknown”, Czech hit comedy “Empties” (dir, Jan Sverak) and Mike Leigh’s “Happy-Go-Lucky”.

The international jury, chaired by award-winning Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski, includes Joel Chapron (Cannes); Paz Lazaro (Berlinale); Fernanda Silva, (Festroia, Portugal) and Israeli critic Edna Fainaru.

British actor Christopher Lee will be at the opening to receive a lifetime achievement award while internationally acclaimed Croatian actor Rade Serbedzia will present two of his films: “Love Life” by German director Maria Schrader and in its Eastern European premiere, “Battle in Seattle” by Stuart Townsend.

The Pula Film Festival runs Saturday July 19 to Saturday July 26.

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