Festival information

Who? Zagreb Film Festival

What? The Zagreb Film Festival has from the very beginning been focused on promotion and presentation of film debuts and emerging filmmakers.

When? 11-19 November 2017

Where? Zagreb, Croatia

Festival Website: http://zff.hr/en/

Denmark

Winter Brothers [+]

Directed by Hlynur Pálmason [+]

An atmospheric story about two brothers, set in the frozen landscape of a mining community. Emil is an outsider, a freak accepted by the locals only grudgingly because of his more sociable and handsome brother Johan. In his free time, he produces illegal brandy with stolen factory chemicals and yearns for passion and belonging. When one worker gets ill, Emil and his brandy are the main suspects. And he gets betrayed by Johan – young Anna, whom Emil is in love with, has chosen his brother. Surrounded by the eerie, almost apocalyptic atmosphere of the industrial landscape filled with deafening sounds of factories and mines, Emil gradually loses control. Violence is inevitable. The film won a number of awards in Locarno, including the Leopard for Best Actor and the Europa Cinemas Label.

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The Charmer [+]

Directed by Milad Alami [+]

Esmail is a charming young Iranian in Copenhagen who spends his time tirelessly cruising singles bars in a desperate search for a lonely Danish woman who would save him from deportation to his homeland. In the constant game of seduction, Esmail has to change his identity, presenting himself as a successful urban bachelor. Slowly he starts losing the notion of his true self. He also falls in love with a girl who instantly sees right through him. But the mysterious Esmail is haunted by sins of the past. Intriguing psychological drama with noir elements. It won the Fedeora Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

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Norway

Thelma [+]

Directed by Joachim Trier [+]

Norway’s Academy Awards entry. A supernatural thriller about Thelma, an odd and timid girl who moves to Oslo to study. Raised in a strict, religious family, Thelma speaks to her parents every evening and they seem to express disturbing curiosity for every detail of her daily life. She meets Anja, a young student, and they fall for each other. At the same time, Thelma starts suffering from mysterious seizures accompanied by frightening telekinetic powers. One day, Anja disappears. Joachim Trier is one of the most famous Norwegian directors. His film Oslo, August 31st was screened in the competition program of the 9th ZFF, while the 2015 Together Again Program hosted his acclaimed Louder Than Bombs.

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Hunting Flies [+]

Directed by Izer Aliu [+]

A satirical drama about the rise and fall of dictatorship, set within a classroom. It’s the first day of school, just after the local elections. Idealistic teacher Ghani receives the news that he has been laid off because he failed to vote and express his support for the winning party. Political and ethnic confrontations are mirrored in problematic relationships among the students, who reflect their parents’ views. In a desperate attempt to keep his job, Ghani locks the students in the classroom in order to compel them to resolve the conflict between their two villages. The tumultuous day filled with tension will force Ghani to choose between his existence and personal beliefs. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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Sweden

Pippi Longstocking [+]

Directed by Olle Hellbom [+]

Pippi Longstocking, one of the world’s favourite children’s characters and creation of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, was in fact imagined by Astrid’s daughter Karin while she was ill. Pippi’s mischievous character and disregard for authority caused quite a stir back in 1945 when the book was published because children’s literature was then considered a means for educating and setting moral examples. But that hasn’t affected the global success of the novel, which has subsequently inspired numerous film adaptations. Pippi Longstocking, a girl of superhuman strength, arrives in a Swedish town with her monkey, horse, and a bag of gold coins. There she befriends two children, Annika and Tommy, astounds the local adults with her unusual behaviour and experiences many adventures.

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Room 213 [+]

Directed by Emelie Lindblom [+]

12-year-old Elvira, Bea and Meja arrive at a summer camp for holidays. Due to a sudden flood, they are given the room 213 in which no one has slept for 60 years. Soon mysterious things start happening: objects begin to disappear and a strange letter appears. Girls point a finger at each other, and then they hear a story about the ghost of a girl who haunts the hallways and campsite at night. The boys from the camp manage to draw the girls’ attention despite their fear, and sparks are kindled between them. This spooky young adult horror is based on the award-winning bestseller by the Swedish author Ingelin Angerborn. The film was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival – TIFF Kids.

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Tsatsiki, Dad and the Olive War [+]

Directed by Lisa James Larsson [+]

Tsatsiki is excited about spending the summer holidays at his father’s place in an idyllic town on Crete. When the holidays finally begin and Tsatsiki reaches his destination, he realizes nothing is as it used to be. Hotels and restaurants are empty, and his father’s olive business has been hit by the financial crisis as well. But Tsatsiki’s mom has taught him never to give up, so he takes matters into his own hands and embarks on a rescue mission with his brave and funny friend Alva. His summer vacation turns into an adventurous journey filled with friendship and love. This is the third film in a series based on popular books about the adventures of Tsatsiki from Stockholm. The first film, made in 1999, won the Silver Bear at Berlinale and became a box office hit.

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My Skinny Sister [+]

Directed by Sanna Lenken [+]

A heart-warming humorous drama about eating disorder told from the perspective of a 12-year-old girl. Chubby and slightly odd, Stella is on the verge of puberty and eager to become an adult. She looks up to her older sister Katja, a talented ice-skater and family pet. When she is not writing romantic poetry about Katja’s coach Jacob, Stella is practicing for her first kiss, making prank calls and trying to impress other students with her sophisticated taste. Observing her sister, Stella notices she doesn’t seem as happy as before – she trains for hours on end, acts unusually and eats less and less. The winner of the Crystal Bear for Best Film in the Generation Kplus competition at the 2015 Berlinale.

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Hugo and Josefin [+]

Directed by Kjell Grede [+]

Based on the novels by Maria Gripe, famous Swedish children’s author and winner of the H.C. Andersen Literature Award, the film has won the Swedish film award Guldbagge for Best Director and Film, as well as the Silver Shell for Best First Work at San Sebastián. It follows a reticent little girl called Josephine, who moves with her mother and pastor father to the countryside. She is pretty lonely there until she meets Hugo, a free-spirited and extremely well-mannered boy. Hugo shakes hands with everyone, cuts his grandfather’s hair and rides an antique bicycle with a huge front wheel. Under the watchful eye of a good-natured local gardener, the duo spends a glorious summer in mischief and adventurous explorations.

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Eskil and Trinidad [+]

Directed by Stephan Apelgren [+]

11-year-old Eskil is always on the move. Due to his father’s job, he constantly changes cities and schools, which makes it hard for him to build friendships. To satisfy his father, a former professional hockey player, Eskil also plays hockey but without much success. He lacks ambition and doesn’t understand why anyone would want to suffer from constant puck hits. Unlike him, Mirja is passionate about hockey but not allowed to play because she’s a girl. Things change when Eskil meets the eccentric Trinidad who lives in the suburbs and is the laughingstock of the locals. With her, Eskil discovers his true passion, seafaring, and joins her in building a ship to sail to the Caribbean. The film won the European Children’s Film Association Award (ECFA) in 2013.

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Cloudboy [+]

Directed by Meikeminne Clinckspoor [+]

12-year-old Niilas has lived with his father for as long as he can remember and barely knows his mother. He is therefore not thrilled to spend the summer with her among the Sami people in the rural part of Sweden. Despite a warm welcome, Niilas clams up and the only one able to make him open up is his half-sister Sunnà. The Sami rear reindeer, and when one of them goes missing, Niilas joins the search. Gradually the boy discovers his roots and experiences the most exciting summer of his life. Set in the mesmerizing landscape of northern Sweden, the film explores the relationship between humans, animals, and nature, as well as the importance and beauty of treating nature with respect and responsibility.

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The Guitar Mongoloid [+]

Directed by Ruben Östlund [+]

Dark-humoured drama about lonely, peculiar people living in the fictitious town of Jöteborg. Fragmented in structure, unveiling the conditions and emotions of Swedes in the new millennium through a series of strange situations, the first film by Swedish director Ruben Östlund defies the rules of classical narration. The filming of this pseudo-documentary took several years due to a limited budget, and most of its actors are non-professionals. Östlund won the FIPRESCI Award at the Moscow International Film Festival and has been compared with his popular compatriot Roy Andersson by critics.

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Show Me Love [+]

Directed by Lukas Moodysson [+]

Agnes and Elin are teenagers from Åmål, a small town they both despise. Agnes is a sensitive and quiet girl in love with the popular Elin. Popularity, however, means little to Elin. She is restless and bored all the time. When she ends up at Agnes’s birthday party and kisses her for a bet, it sets in motion a series of events in which Elin has to grapple her self-image. A contemporary story dealing with funny and painful aspects of growing up, the pleasure and suffering of first love, and the courage to be different. The acclaimed Swedish director Lukas Moodysson is known for his socially engaged films (Lilya 4-everA Whole in My HeartWe Are the Best). Show Me Love was a festival success, winning the Special Prize of the Jury and Audience Award in Karlovy Vary, as well as the Teddy Award in Berlin.

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Jalla! Jalla! [+]

Directed by Josef Fares [+]

Roro, a foreign worker in Swedish parks, loves his girlfriend but is about to marry another girl to prevent her from being sent back to Lebanon. Roros best friend, Måns, has his own problems: He has serious problems getting an erection…

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Crisis [+]

Directed by Ingmar Bergman [+]

Adaptation of a theatre drama by the Danish author Leck Fischer. 18-year-old Nelly grows up in a provincial town under the devoted care of her piano teacher, Ingeborg. Their tranquil life is turned upside down with the sudden appearance of Nelly’s biological mother, Jenny, who runs a successful beauty parlour in Stockholm. She takes Nelly to the big city, where she faces the harsh and twisted world of adults and experiences a failed love. The screenplay was written by the then 27-year-old Ingmar Bergman, who lacked directing experience and was supported by his mentor Victor Sjöström. Some of Bergman’s later motifs are denoted here, primarily the focus on interfemale relationships, further explored in Persona and Cries and Whispers.

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A Swedish Love Story [+]

Directed by Roy Andersson [+]

A cheerful romantic drama about growing up and generation gap. Two teenagers, Annika and Pär, fall in love during an idyllic summer. Their innocent young love stands in stark contrast to the cynicism of their parents worn down by life. They don’t take the young couple seriously. Within the discouraging environment of the bitter adult world, Annika and Pär are trying to preserve their optimism, as well as their place in the clouds. The film was very commercially successful in its time and is considered one of the best Swedish films of all time by critics. Roy Andersson is a cult director with a style marked by carefully designed static shots, a penchant for absurdity and humour, and pronounced humanity. His film A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting Existence was screened at the 2014 ZFF.

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Sami Blood [+]

Directed by Amanda Kernell [+]

A bittersweet coming-of-age story set in the 1930s Sweden. Fourteen-year-old Elle Marja and her sister Njenna live in a Sámi family where the traditional way of life is maintained. When they are sent to a boarding school for Sámi children, the two of them face the harsh reality of racism and discrimination by the Swedish society, which perceives them as inferior and different. Subjected to degrading physical examinations and taunts from the locals, the disconcerted Elle starts dreaming of a better life, doing her best to assimilate and learn the Swedish language. Her sister, on the other hand, turns even more resolutely to the Sámi tradition and heritage. The film premiered at the Venice Days, winning the FEDEORA and Europa Cinemas Label awards.

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6A [+]

Directed by Peter Modestij [+]

The parents of students from class 6A attend a crisis parent meeting to solve an urgent problem. The only students present are three 12-year-old girls – Denise, Bella, and Mina. They have been accused of bullying, but they vehemently reject these accusations. Blinded by the urge to save their children, the angry parents throw accusations at each other, unveiling the ugly side of human nature. Soon it also becomes clear that the teacher might not have done enough to defuse tensions in the classroom. The film tackles questions of responsibility of adult society towards children, shortcomings of the education system, lack of authority, and importance of mutual understanding. It premiered at the Berlin IFF.

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My Gay Sister

Directed by Lia Hietala

10-year-old Cleo joins her sister and her girlfriend on a road trip to Norwegian fjords. Her head is buzzing with questions: how can I tell if I’m in love, how do I know if I like boys or girls? She broaches the subject with the young couple. The film premiered and won the Teddy Award for Best Short Film at this year’s Berlinale.

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Push It

Directed by Julia Thelin

A story about not being able to win, although you’re the best. Hedda tries to approach Adam in every way she can, but no matter what she does it turns out wrong. There are unwritten rules she is not allowed to break. The film was screened at Cannes (Competition), Toronto (Short Cuts), and Göteborg film festivals.

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Emma Vestrheim is the editor-in-chief of Cinema Scandinavia. Originally from Australia, she is now based in Bergen, Norway, and attends major Nordic film festivals to conduct interviews and review new films.