ZagrebDox Special Edition

This is a copy-paste of a text from the website of ZagrebDox festival that started LIVE (with online possibilities given as well). The 16 films mentioned below are in the international competition. More than half of them have been reviewed and/or noticed on this site. So, here you go:

A special edition of the International Documentary Film Festival ZagrebDox takes place from 4 to 11 October at the SC Cinema and &TD Theatre of the Zagreb Student Centre, with around fifty recent documentary titles. ZagrebDox PRO, the festival’s training programme, was largely held in March online. October gives us a chance to present these fifty titles to a live audience.

The film The Cave by Feras Fayyad has so far won around 15 prestigious international awards, including an Oscar nomination, Critics’ Choice Award and the IDA Award, award for the most valuable documentary of the year and recently two Emmys for creative art. it is a story about the Syrian war from the point of view of doctor Amari Ballour, who runs an impromptu hospital in a cave. The winner of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the film In a Whisper by the duo Heidi Hassan and Patricia Pérez Fernández is a story about a friendship overcoming geographic vastness, and IDFA’s winner in the medium-length section, Anticlockwise by Iranian 


director Jalal Vafaei is a touching portrayal of the filmmaker’s family confronting the oppressive Iranian regime. The same festival gave the best director award to the Iranian film veteran Mehrdad Oskouei for the shocking film Sunless Shadows, about the fate of five young Iranian women sentenced over killing their abusive husbands and fathers. A special mention at the last IDFA went to another film from ZagrebDox’s international competition, Froth, a debut film by the young Russian director Ilya Povolotsky, an impeccable study of a small eclectic community of ‘subpolar cowboys’ living in a semi-abandoned town along the hostile shores of the Barents Sea. The grand prix winner at CPH:DOX, Ridge by John Skrog, called by the jury statement the contemporary Swedish version of Tarkovsky, by way of a minute and skilful use of film language conveys the impressions of Scandinavian summer leisure. The Polish filWind. A Documentary Thriller (PHOTO) by Michał Bielawski, the winner of the MDR Award for the best Eastern European film at DOK Leipzig, uses suspense to evolve into an impressive cinematic symphony on the unpredictable and destructive wind blowing several times a year in the Polish region of Podhale.

Exemplary behaviour by Audrius Mickevičius and Nerijus Milerius, the winner at DOK Leipzig, questions the notions of crime, justice and forgiveness in a story about the inmates at the Latvian Lukiškės prison. The Swedish director Mikel Cee Karlsson in the film Fraemling is trying to clarify the destiny of his best friend, gradually unmasking his strange hidden life. Using documentary footage, interviews and re-enactment, the author creates a story about the thin line between the victim and guilt. The controversial Israeli lawyer Lea Tsemel, known for her fearless and passionate fight for the rights of Palestinian political prisoners, is in the focus of the film Advocate, which earned the directorial duo Rachel Leah Jones and Phillippe Bellaiche a dozen awards at renowned festivals and got them shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. The young American director Luke Lorentzen in his new documentary Midnight Family, winning around twenty awards all over the world including the best cinematography at Sundance, joins a Mexican family on frenetic, turbulent night rides across the streets of Mexico City. Filmed in a cinema verité style, the film follows a private family ambulance service unmasking the fatal flaws of the state health system. A special mention at Sundance went to the film The Painter and the Thief by Benjamin Ree, a tender heart-warming story which, skilfully avoiding sentimentalism, depicts an unusual friendship between the protagonists. With an award from the Locarno festival, arriving to Zagreb will be 143 Sahara Street by Hassen Ferhani, an intimate and evocative documentary about a small café in the middle of the Sahara desert. The notorious Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, known for suicide bomber attacks and police patrols, is the scene of the film Gods of Molenbeek by the Finnish director Reetta Huhtanen, through the eyes of two boys hailing from completely different backgrounds. This lyrical piece in a fresh and imaginative way approaches one of the today’s burning issues – the (im)possibility of coexistence in diversity. Family secrets, repressed memories and silent traumas are in the centre of the family drama It Takes a Family, in which director Susanne Kovács expounds a complex, personal tale of her own family, the Holocaust and the terrors of the past which still, generation upon generation, leave a trace in the present. The Grand Prix winner for the best documentary at last year’s Karlovy Vary festival, the film Immortal by the Russian director Ksenia Okhapkina shrewdly unveils how the political power mechanisms influence daily life, even in seemingly benign situations.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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