The sixteenth edition of the Free Zone Festival (November 5-10) within the Regional Selection – Balkan Horizons, selected by Ivan Bakrač, focuses on topics of (dis-)affiliation and identity, tragic historical and family heritage, as well as conflicts arising from one’s need to find their place in a world devoid of tolerance towards individuality.

At a time deprived of support and filled with uncertainty, the films from the Balkan Horizons selection show us that truth and trust can heal, while closeness and togetherness can lead us forward.

Poetic documentary directed by Tamara Drakulić, In Praise of Love, takes us to a forgotten desert village in Mexico. Residents of Potrero accepted the director’s proposal to make a film in their village that combines their everyday life and narrative about Shakespeare’s piece Romeo and Juliet. In the movie, a group of teenagers use a dying village as their scene and Shakespeare’s verses as a tool for telling a story as timeless as Shakespeare’s work. Stuck between poverty and catastrophes, the place comes to life through memories of the past. Scenes depicting a group of children reciting Shakespeare’s verses about Romeo and Juliet’s love on the ruins of a once prosperous mining camp, a lone beekeeper who cherishes memories of the past and never loses hope, along with the magic of this distant continent that suddenly seems unbearably close, make this film a unique visual and emotional experience.

The theme of home and family is also present in the Romanian documentary Acasa, My Home. The Roma family has lived in the pristine wilderness of Bucharest Delta for 20 years, until the city authorities decided to provide them with a “real home” and social protection. Torn out of their familiar environment and forced to live a different life, they struggle to survive in “the civilization”.

In a slightly different Greek wilderness, the storyline of Digger follows the locals tempted by the economic crisis. They’re forced to give up life in nature by selling their property and moving to the city. But can the city make them equally happy?

Carturan also lives in a small Romanian town, supporting his underage grandson for whom he needs to find a new home, whilst trying to leave this world with dignity and find his own peace.

Documentary Once Upon a Youth, directed by Ivan Ramljak from Croatia, was the winner of Free Zone in 2016. It presents closest friends’ fragments of memories, creating a film portrait of an extremely talented young photographer Mark. His black-and-white photographs depict the common past, the carefree youth, as well as the passion and pain of growing up. The elusive moment in which youth gives way to adulthood, the moment that forces us to “get serious” and “move on”, and those small betrayals that some never get over, are forever recorded on them.

In the film One of Us, at the high school reunion a group of friends return to their youth and face the shocking confession of a mutual friend, trying to find words for things that are never or rarely talked about and are very difficult to accept even when uttered.

In the family of Greek emigrants in the film Sundays, return to the past reveals why the Greek Orthodox priest in the USA, Tom Avramis, decided to leave his vocation after thirty years of service, shocking the family and parishioners who worship him. When his daughter discovers an old video he made about his life, she decides to make a film about her father and the burden he carried.

Miracle Milk, the only short film in the selection, directed by Igor Simić, is a political satire in which the manipulative prime minister privatizes and abuses the national treasure in order to save the country from the crisis. Can such a country be home?

Tickets for this year’s festival are available for purchase at the box offices of The Cultural Center of Belgrade, Belgrade Youth Center, Kombank Hall, Art Cinema Kolarac, Yugoslav Cinematheque, The Cinema Fontain, Cine Grand in Rakovica, The Cultural Center of Novi Sad, The Cultural Center of Nis and Cineplexx. The screening of the film program will also be possible through the online platform KinoKauch.