The new film by Oscar winner Hamaguchi, “Evil Does Not Exist” opens the 19th film festival, Free Zone

After the exceptional achievements Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy and Drive My Car, which earned him the status of one of the favorite authors of local film lovers, the Japanese Ryusuke Hamaguchi (44) continued to win awards and critics with his latest film Evil Does Not Exist


Premiered at the 80th Venice Film Festival, where it was awarded the Grand Jury Prize – Silver Lion, along with four other independent awards, Evil Does Not Exist follows a father and daughter who live modest lives in a village near Tokyo, respecting the cycles and laws of nature. One day, they learn that a large company from Tokyo is planning to build a luxury camp in the middle of the forest, to offer its clients an “escape from the city”. It soon becomes evident that the project will have negative consequences for the local water supply, the ecological balance, and the life of the surrounding population.


For the previous two films, Hamaguchi also won important awards: the romantic drama Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy won the Silver Bear – the Grand Jury Prize in Berlin, while Drive My Car was awarded for the screenplay at the world premiere in Cannes, and then nominated for an Oscar in four categories, including for the Best Foreign Langauge film, where it triumphed.

Although, by his admission, he was a little tired of the media attention and promotion of both films, simultaneously released in 2021, and wanted to take a much-needed break, Hamaguchi received an offer he couldn’t refuse.


His collaborator on the film Drive My Car composer Eiko Ishibashi, asked him to help her create a video to accompany her live performance. Not feeling “qualified” to shoot only abstract scenes, Hamaguchi decided to write a classic script and shooting book. And then, unplanned, a full-length film was born from that.


“Over time, I became more attached to the material we created. This very free way of recording seemed refreshing to me. I am a city kid, and for the first time I immersed myself so deeply in nature”, the Japanese explained to the media in Venice.

The result is another pearl with his signature.


Tickets for the grand opening of the Free Zone in Belgrade, for 800 dinars, are on sale at ticket offices of MTS Dvorana and the service, as well as online through the website of MTS Dvorana, and On the same day, the film will be shown at the opening of the festival in Niš and Novi Sad.

This year’s festival is sponsored by the Creative Europe MEDIA subprogram, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Serbia, the Reconstruction Women’s Fund, the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade, the City Administration for Culture of the City of Novi Sad, the Film Center of Serbia and the French Institute.


Winners of the 16th Free Zone

The 16th Free Zone Film Festival officially ended with the screening of the film “Body of Truth” and the award ceremony at the Cultural Center of Belgrade. The winners of the festival were announced at the closing ceremony by the decisions of the international, regional, and high school jury.

By the decision of the members of the international jury – producer Carla Fotea, director Mina Đukić and assistant professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts Vanja Šibalić, the award for the best-engaged film in the international selection went to the film “Never, rarely, sometimes, always” by American director Eliza Hitman

From this year’s diverse selection, the international jury decided to award the best film to Eliza Hitman for her unique and in-depth experience, which is based on an incredible sense of detail and delicate storytelling. The film is an extremely skillful expression of compassion and courage and encourages us to get emotionally involved. The flawless performance of Sidney Flanigan in the main role additionally strengthens the possibility of identification with the events in this film.

The jury of the Regional Program – Balkan Horizons – director Ivana Mladenović, producer Jelena Mitrović, and director Mladen Kovačević awarded the prize for the best-engaged film to the Greek film “Digger” by Georgis Grigorakis.

Digging as an examination of our roots and past in order to heal wounds. We reward this film for the special abilities of the author to bring tenderness to the western genre. The film is about the fight against companies that destroy forests, but it is also about a father and son who, even though the ground is muddy under them, have to dig to overcome the problem.

The director of the film “Digger” addressed the audience via a video link and said, “I am grateful that my film found its way to the audience in these circumstances and we are sorry that we are not with you to celebrate this victory.” The entire author team of this film greeted the audience of the Free Zone via a video link.

This year’s Free Zone Festival gathered a multitude of films that are impressive in terms of the topics they deal with, genres, forms, and also in terms of quality. The award for the best film in the 14+ selection went to the film “Blood Ties” by Danish director Jeanette Nordahl.

A film realization that shows in a fantastic way the struggle of a young girl who was given an apparent refuge, but in fact was left to herself. Her immersion in the love of the new family that supposedly gave her everything will result in her drowning in herself in order to preserve that family. In this story, love and violence coexist, the border between them is insignificant and they are always present together. The perfect emphasis on a single parent who loves his sons endlessly while at the same time is sending them to slaughter. In this situation, the roles of the mother and the head of the criminal gang cannot agree with each other, Ida’s presence makes the situation even more uncertain, which will slowly unravel in the hands of a young girl going through hell.

The film “Akasa, my home” won the Human Rights award in the regional selection Balkan Horizons.

A caring view of the life of the Roma community, “Akasa” is a complex film about growing up, about the generation gap, about the internal struggle of the family to adapt, but even more about the failure of society ready to easily take away what it disapproves of and has so little to offer. An intimate observation film in which the protagonists selflessly share their everyday life with the audience, does not offer simple answers, does not choose the side, but inspires empathy and understanding of the diversity to which modern society must strive.

The director of the film, Radu Čorničuk, also addressed the audience at the Cultural Centre of Belgrade via video and thanked for the award he dedicated to the Enaka family, which is the main actor in this fantastic film.

The film “About One Youth” by Ivan Ramljak received special recognition in the regional selection of Balkan Horizons.

Because of the memory. Because of a promise to a friend. With immeasurable strength, the author returns to his youth and brings us a film that was not destined to happen. To Marko and Ivan, for wonderful photos and directing full of love.

Director Ivan Ramljak called from Zagreb and also thanked for the award and said that he hoped that he would soon be able to hang out with the audience in Belgrade.

The audience award was won by the film “Glory to the Queen” by directors Tatija Škirtladza and Ana Hazaradza. The author of this film was a guest of the festival.

The 16th Free Zone on BIS will be held on Wednesday, November 11 at the Cultural Center of Belgrade, when the films Insider (17h), Gagarin (19h), and Epicentro (21h) will be shown, and the film achievements of the festival will be available online that day at KinoKauch platform.

16. Free Zone Film Festival Encore online and at the Cultural Centre of Belgrade

Films that received the highest audience reviews at the 16th Free Zone Film Festival – The Mole Agent, Gagarine and Epicentro will be shown again on Wednesday, November 11 at the Cultural Center of Belgrade.

16th Free Zone Film Festival Online will also be encored due to increased interest of the audience. The audience will have the opportunity to experience the film festival for one more day (Wednesday, November 11) using an online platform called KinoKauch. The three films that sparked the most interest on the said platform are The Reason I Jump, Undine and Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness.

The Mole Agent, which will be shown at 5 pm at the Cultural Centre of Belgrade, tells a story of Sergio – a special agent from Chile. He ends up getting the job through an ad stating that applicants must be over 80, not too concerned with moral dilemmas and must have a good memory.

Yuri, 16, has lived all his life in Gagarin Towers, a vast red-brick housing project on the outskirts of Paris. He dreams of becoming an astronaut. When plans to demolish Gagarin Towers leak out, Yuri joins the resistance. With his friends Diana and Houssam, he embarks on a mission to save their home, which has become his “starship.”


From the world-famous filmmaker Hubert Sauper – the director of the award-winning film at the Sundance Festival We Come as Friends and the creator of the Oscar-nominated film Darwin’s Nightmare – comes Epicentro, an immersive and metaphorical portrait of postcolonial “utopian” Cuba, where the ramifications of the 1898 explosion of U.S.S. Maine are still very much present. The film will be shown at 9 p.m.


Based on Naoki Higashida’s best-selling book, The Reason I Jump is a brilliant documentary introducing us to the world of autism in the most profound and deeply intimate way.


Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness is another film based on several true stories in which a TV studio serves as a courtroom and a place for justice.


The heroine of the film Undine, played by the German actress Paula Beer, is a historian who works as a curator in a museum in Berlin. Completely by chance, she meets Kristof, a diver who works on underwater research. She falls in love with him and it seems that a new life for her is just beginning. Paula Beer won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 2020 Berlinale Film Festival.

Gledajte Slobodnu zonu na bis na KinoKauch!

Premieres of domestic authors and the new program Digital Propeller on Monday in the Free Zone

Two film premieres of the domestic authors and a rich accompanying program will take place on Monday, November 9 at the 16th Free Zone Festival.

Within the program Free Zone Compass there will be a panel discussion after the film ”Milestones” by Jelena Radenković. Participants of the panel will include Miroslav Keveždi (philosopher, expert for memorial heritage), Dragan Protić Prota (architect and the founder of the Škart group), Jelena Radenković (director), Olga Manojlović Pintar (historian).

Program In Conversation With… will be held via Zoom platform at 6 PM. Lina Gonan will cover the main motives of the film Little Girl through her lecture, such as gender non-normativeness, the process of legal gender recognition, and the fight for self-determination. 

The Free Zone and MEDIA desk Serbia with the support of the Film Center Serbia will organize a new industry program, Digital Propeller. It will offer 2-day workshops where independent Serbian art house film screeners will get a chance to learn about different digital promotional strategies for developing and attracting audiences to the cinemas, as well as new business models imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. The workshops will be held online.

Promotion of the book “50 years of the film hit in Serbian cinematography 1969-2019″ by the professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts Marina Fafulić Milosavljević will take place in the multimedia hall of the Jugoslovenska kinoteka at 7.30 PM.  This book is not only intended for filmophiles but for everyone involved with film – theoretically, artistically or practically. Many people will find out interesting information about their favorite domestic movies in this book.

 Welcome to the Free Zone in cinemas and online (!

Great interest in online Free Zone video platform

This year, Free Zone Film festival (5-10. november), can also be visited online, in addition to regular cinema experience. New platform KinoKauch is the part of this year’s festival, and European and World cinematography hits with Serbian subtitles are now just one click away.

The organizers offer you a short guide through watching movies from your home. Purchases are made using payment cards, and the price is $2.99 (which is 300RSD and is comparable to average festival ticket price). Movie is available for 24 hours from the moment of purchase and can be watched with breaks. Good internet connection is important.

How to watch Free Zone online

This year festival will host guests both, live and online. Besides In conversation with, which is held via Zoom platform, talk program Free Zone Compas includes movie projections and open discussion about movies, will be live. After projections in the Cultural Centre of Belgrade, numerous cultural workers, philosophers, culturologists and social analysts will join us in order to discuss social phenomena and problems, consider possible solutions, talk about different views and arguments and start an initiative for active social involvement.

This year, Compass will open many topics: the growth of corruption, there will be talk about the growth and the new hidden language of the right-wing, about the disappearance of our forests and what is left of Tito’s legacy. Vladimir Simonovic will join our Compas editors this year (Ivan Milenković and Rajko Petrović), and he will present with his guests The Declaration on Regional Solidarity.

Defend the Rivers of Stara Planina Movement at the opening of the 16. Free Zone Film Festival

Tonight, the world premiere of Idiot Prayer: Nick Cave Alone at Alexandra Palace opened the 16th Free Zone Film Festival in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis.

The festival was officially opened by Rajko Petrović, the director of the festival, as well as the selectors Branka Popović and Ivan Bakrač.

Guests of honor at the opening were the representatives of the environmental movement Save the Stara Planina Rivers. They were greeted with thunderous applause from the audience at the great hall of Kombank Dvorana.

Rajko Petrović announced the opening film, a solo concert by Nick Cave, one of the greatest musicians of our times, which was shot after the first wave of Covid 19 and which, according to the director of the festival, ‘matches the current feelings and atmosphere in our society perfectly’.

-This year’s program has been the most diverse and ambitious one so far, with about 70 films that will be shown in cinemas and on an online film platform called – said Petrovic.

Branka Pavlović, the selector of the International Program, explained that the unifying themes of this year’s program are the power of writing, the catharsis of communication, as well as the importance of harmony with nature and solidarity with one’s environment. This year’s film characters are ‘ordinary people’ – visionaries and wizards, shamans and water fairies, guardians and keepers of memories. The audience will rejoice and enjoy the films that will, hopefully, provide comfort.

Ivan Bakrač, a selector of the Regional Program Horizons of the Balkans, said that, throughout history, the Balkans have been a perpetually turbulent place, and that, at a time like this, when the whole world is struggling with Covid, and we have more of our own problem on top of that, it is truly remarkable that the Balkan filmmakers have managed to successfully finish their films which we will be able to see at this year’s festival. Bakrač encouraged the audience to reconsider their priorities through these films and to think about what the word ‘home’ really means to them.

Having thanked the partners of the festival, the director of the Free Zone Film Festival announced this year’s newspaper – the New Industry Program Digital Propeller, started in cooperation with the Media Desk of Serbia  and with the support of the Serbian Film Center.

A new portion of the program titled The Green Zone, which tackles the topic of environmental protection and societal awareness of this issue, was particularly appealing to the audience.

Consequently, the festival officially started an environmental protection movement called Save the Stara Planina Rivers. On behalf of this movement, Aleksandar Jovanović Ćuta addressed the audience, expressing his gratitude and honor for having the opportunity to open the festival.

Aleksandar Jovanović said that the movement was founded four years ago, when the rivers in which the residents of Stara Planina spent their childhood were attacked. This environmental struggle has suffered many obstacles, from legal ones to physical confrontation.

In the beginning, the movement had only 5 members. Today it has 120,000.

After four years, the rivers of Stara Planina are officially free, according to the decision of the local self-governing unit of the City of Pirot.

In the end, Jovanovic said the following – If you wish to live in a country with clean rivers, clean forests and clean air, you will have to fight for it and prepare for the ecological ‘March on the Drina’. With this conclusion, the Free Zone Film Festival has officially been opened.

Entire Serbia in the 16th Free zone!

The film festival Free Zone will take place from November 5th to November 10th in Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Niš. On the 5th of November at 7 and 9 PM, the festival will be solemnly opened with the world cinema premiere of the film Nick Cave – Idiot Prayer at Kombank Dvorana, Kulturni center Novog Sada and Cineplexx in Niš.

The press conference of the festival was held on Tuesday, November 3rd, at Dvorana Kulturnog centra Beograda. Rajko Petrović, festival director and selector, Branka Pavlović, International program selector, Ivan Bakrač, Regional program selector – Balkan Horizons and Ivan Milenković, editor of the Compass debate program, spoke in front of many media representatives.

The festival director, Rajko Petrović, presented this year’s festival and the challenges festival organizers are facing today. Free Zone was supported by the program MEDIA Creative Europe 10 days ago, and because of that, this year audience will get a chance to see 70 featured and documentary films of art-house production (51 featured and 19 short films).

Branka Pavlović presented the movies from the International selection, speaking about the film My favorite war by Latvian director Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen. My favorite war is an animated documentary based on the director’s childhood story growing up in The Soviet Union during the Cold War. A dynamic and engaging documentary about Christoph Schlingensief, German director and socially engaged artist, Schlingensief: A Voice That Shook the Silence, was also recommended by the program selector. She added that this is one of the films in which a director addresses the audience the entire time – which recently became a trend in film art.

Ivan Bakrač
, the selector of the Regional program – Balkan Horizons – talked about movies from this program line with emphasis on the films Acasa, my Home, In Praise of Love, and Miracle Milk.

This selection is special because Balkan directors are slowly expanding beyond the problems of this region and more documentaries are being filmed in other countries and centered around different themes. Films from this selection will have domestic premieres at the Festival, and the movie Sundays by the Greek director Alethea Avramis will have an international premiere.

Ivan Ramljak, the director of the movie O
nce Upon A Youth, will be the guest of this year’s festival edition (winner from 2016). The premiere of Once Upon a Youth will take place on November 7th at 6:30 PM at Dvorana Kulturnog centra Beograda.

Other program lines of the Festival are EU Zone of Change, Green Zone (new program line), Woman line, 14+ selection, Kinokauch presents, In focus, Tito legacy, Zone without Borders, as well as short film program Future is here.

The selector of the Free Zone Compass debate program, Ivan Milenković, said that this year, Compass focuses on the films dealing with global problems, but the same problems can just as easily apply to this region. Panel discussions will follow movies The Realm, This is our Land, Wood, and Milestones at Dvorana Kulturnog centra Beograda.Coffee with Authors has become a Free Zone podcast (edited and hosted by Milica Lapčević), and during the Festival, there will also be a book promotion “50 years of the film hit in Serbian cinematography 1969-2019″ by the professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts Marina Fafulić Milosavljević. Many people will find out interesting information about their favorite domestic movies in this book.

A new festival program, Digital Propeller, in cooperation with Media desk Serbia, will offer 2-day workshops where independent Serbian art house film screeners will get a chance to learn about different digital promotional strategies for developing and attracting audiences to the cinemas, as well as new business models imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Even without guests, this year’s Festival edition will have Q&A with authors, filmed before the Festival and played to the audience after movie projections.

During the Festival, Jugoslovenska kinoteka will screen films by Pietro Marcello, one of the most interesting film directors in contemporary cinematography. The projection of Martin Eden will be followed by the conversation with this fascinating director and Masterclass will also be lead by the director Ivana Mladenović.

Great news this year is the online platform KinoKuach. This hybrid edition of the Free Zone will be available for everyone in Serbia with an internet connection.

Tickets for this year’s festival can be bought at the cash registers in Dvorana Kulturnog centra Beograda, Dom omladine Beograda, Kombank dvorana,Art bioskop Kolarac, Jugoslovenska kinoteka, Bioskop Fontana, bioskop Cine Grand BIG Rakovica, Kulturni centra Novog Sada, Niški kulturni centar, Cineplexx Niš.

This year’s edition of the Festival, besides the MEDIA program, was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Reconstruction Women’s fund, French Institute, Movies That Matter, and Film Center Serbia.

See you in the Free Zone!

Just as it was expected, tickets for Cave are sold out in the Free zone!

The second rerun will take place on November 5th at Kombank dvorana!

Huge worldwide interest in the global cinema premiere of the musical film performance Nick Cave – Idiot prayer is an event that goes beyond the phrase “selling like hotcakes”. After all, it’s the same with everything else associated with this fascinating musician. The film was shot on June 19th, just after the end of isolation in Great Britain, with the assistance of the minimal crew. The premiere took place online on June 23rd on Cave’s YouTube channel – it was broadcast live, meaning without the possibility of watching it later.

Tickets for the second projection in Belgrade can be bought at the cash register of Kombank dvorana and online at

Another important piece of news is that the Film festival Free Zone is supported for the third time by program Creative Europe and its subprogram MEDIA. The European Commission has recognized Free Zone once again as one of the most important festivals in our country and region. Subprogram MEDIA encourages the evolution, distribution, and promotion of European featured and animated films, documentaries, TV shows, and new media content. This subprogram supports film festivals and audience development, a well as the professional development of film experts, and platforms for the distribution of audiovisual content.

The sixteenth edition of the Free zone festival will take place from November 5th to November 10th in ten movie theaters in Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Niš. The big news is that you can watch the film program all over Serbia on the online platform KinoKauch.

And this isn’t the only novelty; this year, the Festival has a new program line – Green Zone, aiming to raise environmental awareness of the audience. Films on this topic make the audience think, but also engage in activism – because there is no better time than now to care about nature.

Eco-thriller Wood, a magical documentary about the life of the big forests; Hidden life of trees, and the optimistic documentary and But Beautiful are the first movies the audience will get a chance to see in the Green zone selection. With the almost magical objective, recorded on the same note, the film But Beautiful by Erwin Wagenhofer is searching for beauty and kindness, showing people who are creating something innovative and meaningful. From uneducated women building solar panels in the villages across the world; the spiritual leader with mischievous and essential messages; to the young jazz musicians – this movie connects them in the unique message that a better world is possible.

EU Zone of change, the debutant line of last year’s festival edition, brings us 6 movies – Gagarine, The Realm, This is our Land, Little Girl, Midnight Traveler, and The Mole Agent. What brings them together is dealing with the concept of change and what change can give to the individual.

In the Chilean spy documentary The Mole Agent, Sergio is an 80-year-old spy hired to find out if there is abuse in the retirement house, as suspected by the daughter of one of the house members. Charismatic Sergio goes on a mission and discovers the truth – but not the one he was hired for.


Selection 14+ is a well-known line that includes films for the youth. Sune – best man, Rocca Changes the World, and Wildland are the films chosen for this year’s edition of the festival.

Wildland, following the death of her mother, Ida moves in with her aunt and cousins. After the initial harmony, she realizes that a family clan is involved in criminal activity.

Selection Women’s line will once again focus on the question of limits, limits of women’s bodies, limits of being a woman, and of course, women empowerment. Films that will be projected this year are Toni Morison: The Piece I am, Glory to the Queen, Euphoria of Being, Body of Truth, and Undine.


The Festival will be solemnly closed with the documentary Body of Truth by the German author Evelyn Schels. Artists Marina Abramovic, Sigalit Landau, Shirin Neshat, and Katharina Sieverding have been politicized with their personal experience with war, violence, and oppression. Those experiences are integrated into their art, where they use their bodies as the most personal way of expression.

This year’s edition is supported by the MEDIA program, Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Reconstruction Women’s Fund, French Institute, and Movies that matter.
Come in person, come online!
See you in the Free zone!


Pietro Marcello in the Free Zone!

During the six festival days of the 16th Film Festival Free Zone (5-10.11), beside the films that open important current subjects and widen our horizons, the audience will also be able to watch a very rich following program of the festival.

The Compass of the Free Zone, the panel of the festival which, for eight years now, has consisted of film screenings and open discussions initiated by the films. After the screening, many workers from the cultural fields, philosophers, culturalists and social analysts will join the audience in the cinema hall of Belgrade Cultural Center to discuss certain phenomena in society and the current ongoings, foresee possible solutions, argue conflicting views and launch an initiative for active participation in all spheres of social life. This year, Compass will open current topics: the increase of corruption, there will be talk about growth and a new hidden language of the right, about the disappearance of our forests and what is left of Tito’s legacy. The editors of this year’s Compass (Ivan Milenković and Rajko Petrović) are joined by sociologist Vladimir Simović, who will present the Declaration of Regional Solidarity with his guests. The panel discussion will take place after the screening of the films The Realm, This is Our Land, Wood and Umetnost sećanja (The Art of Remembrance).

The Realm, Friday, 6th of November, 10:30h, DKC (Hall of the Belgrade Cultural Center)

The Free Zone and the MEDIA desk of Serbia, with the support of the Film Center of Serbia, are organizing a new industry program Digital Propeller. The Digital Propeller will offer two two-day workshops where independent Serbian artists of arthose films will have the opportunity to get acquainted with various digital promotional strategies for building and attracting audiences to cinemas, as well as new business models imposed by the Corona virus pandemic. The lecturer on the first day of the workshop will be Filip Mordekaj, who has successfully developed and promoted a special VOD platform, Curzon Home Cinema, over the past seven years, thanks to which British audiences can now watch movies both in cinema and online. On the second day of the workshop, participants will meet Njuet Nujenova, an expert in digital film promotion from the Danish company Gruvi.

Every year, the Free Zone organizes programs intended for the education and networking of filmmakers. In conversation with will be held with the fascinating Italian director Pietro Marcello, and director Ivana Mladenović. During the festival, the Yugoslav Film Archive will screen films by Pietro Marcello, one of the most interesting film directors in contemporary cinematography today.

Martin Eden, Saturday, 7th of November, 17:30h, Yugoslav Film Archive (Jugoslovenska kinoteka)

On a coffee with the authors gets its online version ant this year it becomes a Free Zone podcast. Although coffee with the authors will be drunk in the digital space, it will continue to bring dynamic, open and interesting conversations, with a special focus on the selections of the Green Zone and the EU Zone of Change.

The promotion of the book by the professor of the Faculty of Dramatic Ars, Marina Fafulić Milosavljević, 50 Years of the Film Hit in Serbian Cinematography 1969-2019, will be held in the multimedia hall of the Yugoslav Cinematheque. This book is intended for both film lovers and those who deal with film practically / artistically or theoretically. Many will be able to find interesting information about their favorite domestic movies in this book.

Welcome to the Free Zone in cinemas and online na Kinokauch!

Balkan Horizons: What kind of country is called home?

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.