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News 10 Nov 16

Free Zone Kicks Off Across Serbia

The Free Zone festival is in its 12th year, continuing its mission of not only getting people around Serbia to see great, contemporary films, but also to encourage conversations the topics contained within them.

David Galic
BIRN
Belgrade
The film ‘Amy’ will be screened on November 5th in all three cities. Photo: Flickr/Flickr Prachatal.

More than 50 feature and documentary films will be shown at this year’s Free Zone film festival, which runs from November 10 to 15 in Belgrade, Nis and Novi Sad.

The festival kicks off with one of the most acclaimed movies of the year, “Neruda.” A self-styled “anti-biography”, the movie follows Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who becomes a fugitive in his native country after joining the Communist Party in the late-1940s.

Directed by one of the brightest lights of Chilean cinema, Pablo Larraín, “Neruda” was first shown at the Cannes Festival this year and some see it as a front-runner for the Best Foreign Film category at the 2017 Oscar awards.

As always, a rich complementary programme of roundtable discussions and lectures will accompany the films at Free Zone. The festival has always been interactive – one in which many of the people who have created the films are present and can be interacted with after the screenings.

Free Zone has always been about creating real dialogue and having a conversation about important human rights topics, not just watching films. The competitive part of the festival is also interactive.

An expert panel will choose the best socially engaged film in both regional and international categories. However, the public vote has long been Free Zone’s trademark award – the award decided by the crowd. Interestingly, Free Zone encourages the public to submit their own reviews of the movies they watch.

While the regular programme of the Free Zone Festival takes place in November, the mission of the festival never ends there.

One of Free Zone best-known actions is its tour – taking the best movies shown at the festival this year on a tour around Serbia. This year, the tour went to 45 towns and cities and gave thousands of people the chance to see important contemporary films that they might have never have seen otherwise.

“The mission of our tour is to decentralize culture in Serbia. At this time, we are the only festival that makes such a deep effort to reach people by trying to visit as many cities and towns as possible,” Festival Director Rajko Petrovic said.

Another area in which Free Zone is interested is getting young people involved through the Free Zone Junior events.

Through this programme, Free Zone offers movies, along with accompanying literature and a curriculum for discussing the movies and the issues that are relevant to them. All Free Zone Junior materials are tailored to the classroom, with movies that last no longer than a typical class and handbooks for teachers that offer guides on how to present the movies and suggestions for topics that can be discussed after viewing.

As always, tickets are affordable. The premier for “Neruda” costs less than three euros. For more information on Free Zone and this year’s programme, visit the official site: www.freezonebelgrade.org.

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


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