Highlights of modern Balkan cinema will get an annual airing at London’s Raindance Film Festival (25 September – 6 October).
The Raindance Film Festival has established itself as the premiere destination for the best of Balkan cinema. Each year, organisers tailor a programme of the most talked-about regional films, international festival favourites, directorial debuts and first screenings, alongside panel discussions and cast Q&As.
In the past, the films have attracted heated debate among the diaspora for their uncompromising impression of contemporary Balkan life, while some more feel-good films are praised for acknowledging the heart and humour of the region.
Since it kicked off in the early nineties, the Raindance Film Festival has striven to support independent filmmakers.
Now in its 21st year, Raindance Film Festival would seem to present something for most admirers of quality, thought-provoking independent cinema. Among more than 100 feature films and around 150 short films to be screened this year will be the Balkan Shots selection of movies.
With films from Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as Germany and France, representing contemporary stories, historical drama and heartwarming documentaries, the Balkan Shots strand is sure to entertain, challenge and engage. With cast and crew discussion groups, some films should also encourage healthy debate on subjects that all too often can be swept under the expansive Balkan rug.
Of the Balkan films to make the final cut, some of those at this year’s Raindance have already been awarded, commended or nominated at leading international festivals, while the festival maintains it’s reputation for premiere screenings of significant features.
Serbian cinema is well represented with director Jelena Bajic Jocić’s debut feature Ice, the state’s 2012 Oscar entry When the Day Breaks and Bojan Vuk Kosovcević‘s impressive debut The Whirlpool.
Željko Mirković‘s international festival favourite The Second Meeting will also receive it’s official UK cinema premiere. This striking tale of human spirit, friendship and hope that brings together two families, one from Serbia, the other from the United States, has attracted acclaim at home and abroad.
Films in the Balkan Shots strand, to screen at Vue Cinema, Piccadilly, London:Ice (Serbia) Dir: Jelena Bajic Jocić / UK Premiere In the idyllic Serbian countryside a young farmer and his family must battle conspiring fates in a tale of lost happiness and dreams, fear, the supremacy of fate and the laws of nature. • Thur 26 Sept – 3.45pm, Sun 29 Sept – 7pm Gangsters of Love (Croatia, Germany, Romania) Dir: Nebojša Slijepčević / UK Premiere Matchmaker Nediljko Babic helps a Bulgarian single mother find a new husband in Croatia. But a series of comically disastrous dates discloses the true nature of conservative Croatian men in this film, nominated as Best Documentary Feature. • Thur 26 Sept – 12.45pm; Sat 28 Sept – 2.15pm The Priest’s Children (Croatia) Dir: Vinko Bresan / UK Premiere Motivated by desire for demographic renewal, Don Fabijan, a young priest on a Dalmatian island starts secretly puncturing all the packaged condoms before they are sold. However after initial success, numerous weddings and new births, things become complicated. • Fri 27 Oct – 6.30pm, Mon 30 Sept – 12.30pm When Day Breaks (Serbia, Croatia, France) Dir: Goran Paskaljević / UK Premiere One morning, Misha Brankov, a retired music professor, receives an iron box from the Jewish Museum in Belgrade. The contents of the box will change his life. • Mon 30 Sept – 6.15pm Balkan Spirit (Germany) Dir: Hermann Vaske / UK Premiere Documentary filmmaker Hermann Vaske and philosopher Slavoj Žižek take us along a rollercoaster ride through the creative world of the Balkans, seen by their artists. • Tues 1 Oct – 5.45pm The Whirlpool (Serbia) Dir: Bojan Vuk Kosovcević / UK Premiere A film about the late 1990s, seen through the eyes of young adults trying to find themselves while circumstances were pulling them to the bottom. Nominated as Best Debut Feature. • Wed 2 Oct -12.45pm; Fri 4 Oct – 6.15pm The Second Meeting (Serbia) Dir: Željko Mirković / UK Premiere F-117 stealth fighters are supposed to be invisible to radar, but in 1999 Serbian missile officer Zoltan Dani managed to identify and shoot down one of those aircraft. Ten years later he meets with the pilot, Dale Zelko. This heartwarming tale of friendship, humanity and peace has become a beacon of hope wherever this brilliant documentary has been screened. • Thurs 3 October – 8:00pm Halima’s Path (Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia) Dir: Arsen Anton Ostojić / UK Premiere In order to recover the body of her son lost during the war in Bosnia, grieving Muslim woman Halima must track down her estranged niece, who we find carries a mysterious connection to him. Nominated as Best International Feature. • Sat 5 Oct – 4.45pm; Thurs 3 Oct – 12.30pm Practising Embrace (Slovenia) Dir: Metod Pevec / UK Premiere When strangers Tjaša and Lena convince their reluctant partners to take up dance classes the two couples form a friendship. As the couples grow closer, friendship gives way to attraction, threatening the happiness of all involved. • Sun 6 Oct – 2.30pm Sonja and the Bull (Croatia) Dir: Vlatka Vorkapic / UK Premiere When young animal-rights activist Sonja speaks out against bullfighting on national TV she finds herself at the centre of a bizarre bet. Stipe, the owner of one of the bulls, is so sure Sonja won’t have the courage to get close to his bull that he wagers his testicles. • Sun 6 Oct – 4.45pm For screening information and booking details see www.raindancefestival.org.