About Us

15. YEARS OF MAKING FREE ZONES

Founded in 2005, the Free Zone Film Festival has opened up space for debates, promotion, questioning and understanding of human rights as well as related issues, social phenomena and problems in the world and region. From the very beginning, it encourages the audience to question their values, prejudices and division of responsibility in social and cultural context in which they live in. The Festival shows in average 30 to 40 feature films and documentaries from around the world, awarded at prestigious worldwide festivals. Since 2013, the Festival has been organized at the same time in three cities (Belgrade – Novi Sad – Niš). Films are shown in 10 movie theatres and the grand opening is held at the same time in all three cities in front of thousands of spectators. The Festival is a part of a wider initiative that lasts throughout the year and includes the festival tour (50 cities in Serbia) and educational programs (Free Zone Junior, Handbook for teachers and students for the use of film as a supplementary tool in the teaching of civic education in elementary and high schools, as well as Handbook Film in teaching intended for future teachers).

From the very beginning, Free Zone has been focused on the audience: personal and professional experience from team members shaped the program selection, which brought quality to the Festival, increased expectations of audience and their interest in ’’different films’’. Over the time, the Festival received screenings for high school students and some of the films became part of educational programs for young people. That brought the Festival a new, future audience. Through educational programs and the festival tour, issues on discrimination, women and children rights, necessity of dealing with the past in the region and Serbia’s role in the Yugoslav wars, issues on LGBTQ rights and the position of marginalized social groups have become more visible and subject of discussions beyond the context of the Festival, as well as outside Belgrade. Some of the young people, who became acquainted with activism and social responsibility through films or other festival events, have been participating in the summer workshops of the documentary Free Zone Junior since 2007. They were given the opportunity to show their short films for the first time to the festival audience in Belgrade.

SUPPORT FROM PARTNERS AND GUEST SELECTORS

In cooperation and with the support from the first local women’s foundation in Serbia – Reconstruction Women’s Fund, the Woman Line program segment was introduced, dedicated to the affirmation of women’s rights. From 2012 to 2017 the selection team was supplemented by the Guest selector, a person who by their own doings in the public sphere, but also by their personal value system, shows the values of the festival itself.

Free Zone Guest selectors were Croatian writer Dubravka Ugrešić, art director of the Dokufest festival from Prizren Veton Nurkollari, writer and philosopher Boris Buden, journalist and actress Olja Bećković, journalist and publicist Teofil Pančić.

So far, the festival has been opened by Mirjana Karanović, Miki Manojlović, Biljana Srbljanović, Veran Matić, Boris Buden, Dubravka Ugrešić, Olja Bećković, Viktor Ivančić, Teofil Pančić and civic initiative ’’The Roof Over Our Heads’’.

FREE ZONE JUNIOR & PROGRAM LINE 14+

From the very beginning, the Festival has organized screenings for high school students, which became an important segment of the festival program over the time, out of which in 2015 a special program line 14+ was created, in which a high school jury evaluates films and awards the Best Film Award in this selection. This way, young people have the opportunity to watch films from Free Zone program that deal with problems of people their age from all over the world.

In cooperation and with the support from the first local women’s foundation in Serbia – Reconstruction Women’s Fund, the Woman Line program segment was introduced, dedicated to the affirmation of women’s rights. From 2012 to 2017 the selection team was supplemented by the Guest selector, a person who by their own doings in the public sphere, but also by their personal value system, shows the values of the festival itself.

Free Zone Junior’s latest project ‘’Our differences are our strength’’ gathers thirty young people aged 15 to 26 from all over Serbia, who work on their first short documentary films with the help of mentors.

EUROPEAN COOPERATION

Over the years, Free Zone has also been cultivating the cooperation with European documentary and feature film festivals. Therefore, with a selection of their best films, the Festival featured: FIDD Marseille from Marseille, Dokufest from Prizren, Tempo Festival from Stockholm, This human world from Vienna, CPH:DOX festival from Copenhagen, with whom a special screening was organized dedicated to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

NIGHT TALKS - FREE ZONE COMPASS

Program that further influenced visibility of the festival and strengthened contact and interaction with audience is the speech/debate program Night Talks. From 2018, this program changes its form and under the name Free Zone Compass gathers philosophers, political scientists, cultural workers and other public figures to discuss festival films related topics with audience.

Festival program is regularly supplemented by special program lines, EU Zone of Change and Green Zone, as well as special programs In Focus and master class programs and lectures for film professionals.

Since 2016, beside Audience Award, which is decided by votes of the visitors, Free Zone has been awarding the expert jury awards for the Best Engaged Film in the Regional Competition, the Best Film Award within the (youth) selection 14+ (high school jury) and the Human Rights Award. Feature films and documentaries compete equally in all categories.

FREE ZONE TOUR

After the Festival, which is held every year in November, during spring in April-May-June, the festival starts the Free Zone Tour where audiences from smaller towns, cities and villages are shown 5 to 7 best films from the previous festival edition, chosen by audience. The number of cities participating in this program is constantly rising. In 2019, audience could see films from Free Zone in over 50 cities.

It is a kind of decentralization of culture in action, where audience from smaller places, which often do not have adequate locations for film screenings, is offered a top film program in alternative locations.

SEE YOU IN THE FREE ZONE!

Free Zone Film Festival project is a member of the Human Rights Film Network and a partner in the Balkan Documentary Distribution Network together with festivals and organizations from region, such as ReStart from Zagreb, Dokufest from Prizren, Makedox from Skopje, Demiurg from Ljubljana and Underhill from Podgorica.

Today, Free Zone is one of the most important engaged film festivals in Southeast Europe. The diversity of its programs, cultural contexts, art forms, educational formats, combinations of art-house films and festival hits, international guests made Free Zone Festival interesting and recognizable for audience. In 2018 and 2019, the festival was supported by the European Commission through MEDIA sub-program within the Creative Europe program.

Privacy Settings
We use cookies to enhance your experience while using our website. If you are using our Services via a browser you can restrict, block or remove cookies through your web browser settings. We also use content and scripts from third parties that may use tracking technologies. You can selectively provide your consent below to allow such third party embeds. For complete information about the cookies we use, data we collect and how we process them, please check our Privacy Policy
Youtube
Consent to display content from Youtube
Vimeo
Consent to display content from Vimeo
Google Maps
Consent to display content from Google