Look back at 2016: Vibrant distribution of Croatian films, numerous awards at festivals around the world

The 2016 film year was marked by film distribution in Croatian cinemas as well as numerous appearances and awards to Croatian films of all types and genres at international festivals.

Croatian films in cinemas

22 films were screened in local theatres during 2016, of which 20 of them were co-financed through calls for applications from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, seven of which are minority co-productions. 14 feature length documentaries and approximately one hundred short (animated, documentary, experimental and narrative) films have been completed and publicly screened.

Within various forms of distribution were 16 feature length films (of which seven are minority co-productions) and six documentary films which sold nearly 134 000 tickets. Some of these films are still showing in theatres across Croatia (All the Best by Snježana Tribuson and Goran by Nevio Marasović). 2016’s most watched film is Igor Šeregij’s ZG80, produced by Kinoteka, with a total number of 65 685 viewers. The second most watched film is The Constitution by Rajko Grlić, produced by Interfilm, with a total of 32 021 viewers. In third place is The Boss directed by Dario Juričan and produced by HRCIN (The Croatian Centre for Investigative Journalism and Free Media) with nearly 12 000 viewers (the film is still being screened in cinemas across the country). In 2016 Shooting Stars by Ivan Goran Vitez continued sucessful distribution and reached 54.660 viewers.

2016, the multiple award-winning film The High Sun by Dalibor Matanić was successfully distributed in the theatres in Italy. The film was first screened in Rome where the film’s star Tihana Lazović greeted viewers. The film has, since August 31st, attracted nearly 52 000 viewers. After premiering last year in Cannes, The High Sun has been screened at almost one hundred international festivals and has won thirty awards.

Croatian film successes in the world

The year began with two Croatian appearances at the Berlin Film Festival: On the Other Side by Zrinko Ogresta was screened in the Panorama programme, while Tihana Lazović was chosen as one of ten participants of the European Shooting Stars programme, which promotes the most successful young European actors and actresses each year. On the Other Side won special mention from Europa Cinemas Label, and the European Film Academy placed the film on the list of 50 films competing for a European Film Award. The Cannes Festival screened the Croatian minority co-production Sieranevada by Romanian director Cristi Puiu, and the short film The Beast by Miroslav Sikavica. The Beast competed in the 'Quinzaine des Réalisateurs' programme and won special jury mention. Hana Jušić’s debut feature film Quit Staring at My Plate screened at the 73rd Venice Film Festival in the Venice Days programme and won the FEDEORA Award for Best European Film, after which it screened at international festivals in Warsaw, Reykjavik, Vancouver, Tokyo and Valladolid (Seminci). The Constitution by Rajko Grlić won the Grand Prix at the Montreal International Film Festival, while Franjo Dijak won in Montreal at the Fantasia Film Festival for Best Leading Male for his role in Nevio Marasović’s newest film Goran.

Croatian minority co-productions also won numerous awards. House of Others by Rusudan Glurjidze won the main prize at the 51st Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the East of the West programme, while A Good Wife by Mirjana Karanović won many awards including Best Film and the Jury Prize at the SEEFest International Film Festival and Best Debut Film in Brussels.

Other film formats were also successful on the festival scene. Besides the already mentioned The Beast by Miroslav Sikavica, other successful films include The Beast by Daina O. Pusić, which won special jury mention at the Slamdance Film Festival as well as, Best Short Film in Los Angeles. Half a Man by Kristina Kumrić, which was the result of a project initiated by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs ‘A Picture of the Homeland War’, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won Best Film in Valladolid.

Award-winning documentaries include: Dum Spiro Spero by Pero Kvesić which won Best Mid-Length Documentary at the 57th Festival dei Popoli, while the observational documentary Tourism! by Tonći Gaćina won Best Balkan Newcomer Award at DokuFest. Tourism! premiered at the renowned documentary film festival in Nyons, Visions du Réel, while Tonći Gaćina participated in the Future Frames programme in Karlovy Vary as one of the most talented young European filmmakers today. Winning Croatian minority co-productions include Mladen Kovačević’s Wall of Death, and All That which won Best Film at Belgrade’s Beldocs.

Animated films also had a successful year. At the 40th International Film Festival in Annecy, one of the most renowned animated film festivals around, two Croatian productions were screened. Planemo by Veljko Popović screened in the official competition, while Petra Zlonoga’s experimental short Dota screened out of the competition. Furthermore, Nighthawk by Špela Čadež will screen in competition at the prestigious Sundance and Clermont-Ferrand festivals at the beginning of 2017.

Croatian Oscar Award candidates and Student Oscar finals

Besides award-winning films, this year was also marked by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 89th Oscar Awards Best Foreign Language Film category. Croatia, directly or indirectly had eight candidates in this category. Croatia was not only represented by the feature film On the Other Side by Zrinko Ogresta, but also by a number of minority Croatian co-productions: Macedonia’s candidate The Liberation of Skopje by Rade and Danilo Šerbedžija (Croatian co-producer Igor A. Nola, MP Film Productions), Georgia’s candidate House of Others by Rusudan Glurjidze (Croatian co-producer Dario Dimitrović, Embrio Productions), Romania’s candidate Sieranevada by Cristi Puiu (Croatian co-producer Zdenka Gold, Spiritus Movens), Iceland’s candidate Sparrows by Rúnar Rúnarsson (Croatian co-producer Igor A. Nola, MP Film Productions) Serbia’s candidate Train Driver’s Diary by Miloš Radović (Croatian co-producer Ivan Maloča, Interfilm), as well as Slovenia’s candidate, the feature-documentary film Houston, We Have a Problem! by Žiga Virc (Croatian co-producer Siniša Juričić, Nukleus Film). This year also saw the short film The Beast by director and writer Daina O. Pusić eligible to compete for a nomination in the category of Best Short Film.

Furthermore, at the beginning of August, the short film Flowers by Judita Gamulin was selected for the finals of the Student Oscar Awards. The film is produced by the Academy of Dramatic Arts and was one of seven finalists competing in the category of Best Foreign Film.