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News 31 Mar 17

Belgrade Film Festival Going Strong

The 64th annual Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival once again showcases some of the country's brightest young cinematic talents.

David Galic
The film Triest, Yugoslavia that will be screened during the festival portrays the Ponte Rosso market as a favourite trade destination of Yugoslavs during the 70s and 80s. Photo: Courtesy of Martovski Festival.

Back under a new and catchier name, Belgrade’s annual film festival is now called the Martovski Festival [the March Festival] and is taking place from March 30 to April 2 at Dom Omladine.

After starting out in Pula back in 1954, then known as the Yugoslav Film Festival, the event moved to Belgrade in 1960 where it has remained ever since.

What makes this festival so unique and interesting is that it serves specifically as a platform for young, domestic filmmakers, allowing them to reach a wider audience.

The festival holds an open competition every year where local directors and producers are able to submit films that span a variety of genres, including documentaries, short films, animations and experimental film and video art.

It has also been a very important springboard for many producers and directors who are now considered the cream of the crop in the region. Big names in Serbian cinematography such Zlatko Bourek, Ante Babaja, Vlatko Gilic, Krsto Papic and Stole Popov all got their start at the Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival.

One of the greatest success stories of the festival is Dusan Vukotic and his animated masterpiece Surogat, which ended up winning an Academy Award for best animated short film in 1962.

Young filmmakers in Serbia are well aware of the festival’s importance and prominence throughout the years, which is why hundreds of films are submitted every year to the festival.

"I'm currently enjoying the short films that were sent to me by the curators of the festival,” director Pavle Vuckovic, who is on the panel this year, told the local daily newspaper Danas.

Another panel member, writer and film critic Djordje Bajic, also told Danas that after starting to watch the films that have been submitted for the festival: “It was immediately clear to me that it is going to be hard to pick the best ones, which makes me very happy."

Besides the name change to the Martovski Festival, there are two other big changes. One is that Dom Omladine has decided to take on the organisation of the entire festival and the other is the appointment of a new artistic director; Boban Jevtic, currently director of the Serbian Film Centre.

“The festival is once again turning into a national one,” he told Blic, another local daily, adding that the general idea is to create a festival that is important for the profession, one that would be very intense and full of workshops as well as showing films from morning to night each day.

“I believe that this festival will be able to advance national cinematography even more and become a platform for domestic and foreign authors to see a cross-section of what has been going on the in the film world this year, along with actually relevant awards,” he said.

The discussions and lectures that will be held in between screenings are open to everyone and serve as a platform for young filmmakers and film students to discuss their processes, hold consultations with experienced veterans and leave the festival with valuable experiences that they can use in the future.

Another interesting facet of the festival this year is that there will be a special concert on April 1, featuring a reunion gig by one of Belgrade’s better indie rock bands of the last decade – Autopark.

The concert will mark five years to the day since Autopark played their last show on the very same Dom Omladine stage. Tickets for the show cost four euros, reduced to two euros if you present a ticket for any of the films being shown on that day.

Opening the show will be the young alternative rockers Hod, who just recently released their debut album Redak Vazduh (Thin Air).

For all information regarding film screenings and ticket prices, visit the Martovski Festival’s official website: www.martovski.rs.

This article was published in BIRN's bi-weekly newspaper Belgrade Insight. Here is where to find a copy.

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