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!

Virtual school cinema for high school students from 11 locations in Serbia

The fourth edition of the Free Zone Junior traveling school cinema that includes media literacy workshops will take place online during October and November in 11 different places in Serbia.

School cinema with media literacy workshops will begin it’s virtual journey today, on October 27, in Krupanj and Raška, and it will continue through high schools in Ljubovija, Trstenik, Bogatić, Sečanj, Vršac, Srbobran, Titel, Ub, and Tutin until November 10.

During the interactive online encounters, scholars will have a chance to think about the role, the influence and social engagement through media in contemporary society with the Free Zone Junior’s experts. One of the goals is to motivate them to create their own video documentaries where they can express their opinion and point out the problems from their local community that they find relevant today.

By following workshops, participants will have a chance to take part in the competition for the best documentaries that will be a part of a video exhibition. The exhibition is planned to take place at the International Human Rights Day in Belgrade, December 10. In the case of an unfavorable epidemiological situation, the exhibition will also be held online.

Free Zone Junior traveling school cinema has been around for 4 year, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, and during the last seasons it has travelled through Trgovište, Batočina, Ivanjica, Bela Palanka, Vlasotince, Priboj, Medveđa, Arilje, Prokuplje, Kuršumlija, Šid, Kučevo, Zaječar, Bela Crkva, Negotin, Majdanpek, Knjaževac, Vladimirci, Nova Varoš, Lučani, Ljig, Koceljeva, Mali Zvornik, Novi Pazar, Leskovac, Kovačica, Loznica, Srpska Crnja, Bečej, Mionica, Lajkovac and Brus.

The program Free Zone Junior was founded in 2006. with the aim to start a conversation and spread the knowledge about the relevant social and political topics from around the world and to contribute to the development of critical thinking and media literacy, while destroying prejudice and stereotypes – all this using socially engaged film as a tool. The program has grown with years and today it includes activities in primary and secondary schools, higher education, as well as extracurricular activities for high school students.


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.


Free Zone Film Festival Free Zone Film Festival will be held from 5th to 15th November in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Nis. On November 5, at 7 PM, the festival will have its grand opening with the movie Nick Cave – Idiot Prayer, which is to be screened in Kombank dvorana in Belgrade, Cultural Centre of Novi Sad and Cineplexx in Nis.

This year, the festival brings 35 art house feature films and documentaries. All the movies in this year’s selection of the festival speak about a desire to communicate, traumas that come with separation and catharsis that intimacy brings. They talk about the need of belonging to a certain community, acceptance, magic of touch, importance of our memory and conquering fears.

On the 16th edition of the Free Zone Film Festival, the audience will have a chance to see films from well-known program segments: International selection, Regional selection – Balkan Horizons, 14+ line, EU – zone of change and Woman line.

This year, the festival added a new selection of films called the Green Zone, which focuses on ecology and our attitude towards the environment. Films from this selection combine authors’ creativity with activism, they connect film to ecology, so as to better understand our natural surroundings, its mechanisms and ways it affects our daily lives. Also, there is a selection that centers around Tito’s legacy from different perspectives, 40 years after his death.


Short films made in Dokufest workshops for documentary film in Prizren will be screened as part of the Future is Here program, just like films by Pietro Marcello as part of the In Focus program. Films from online platform KinoKauch will be screened in Jugoslovenska kinoteka.


EU – zone of change segment of the program continues to reexamine and analyze socio-economic changes in Europe and the way they affect our lives, while the focus of Woman line, one of the favorite program segments of the festival, remains on gender (in)equality issues, activism through art, dealing with past traumas and emancipation of women. As part of the Free Zone Compass, panel discussions will be held after the screenings of films in the Cultural Center of Belgrade.

The big novelty of this year’s festival is the online platform KinoKauch (, on which the films will be screened.

Tickets for this year’s festival are available at the box offices of Cultural Centre of Belgrade, Dom omladine, Kombank dvorana, Art Cinema Kolarac, Jugoslovenska kinoteka, Bioskop Fontana, Cine Grand MCF, Cultural Centre of Novi Sad, Cultural Centre of Nis, and Cineplexx in Nis.

We introduce you to the festival's favorites

Feature film Never, rarely, sometimes, always directed by American film director Eliza Hittman is part of the International selection. Film gives possible answers to very private questions a social worker asks seventeen-year-old Autumn at the crisis pregnancy center. The questions tackle Autumn’s family, her sexual health, habits and feelings. Brutally honest towards society and system, and endlessly gentle towards her heroines, Eliza Hittman invites us to come really close to them, until we get the feeling that true friendship, human touch and support are what we need to live/and survive.

Documentary film The Reason I Jump shows us lives of children and young with autism and their families. Based on the book of the same name, through the inner voice of a thirteen-year-old autistic boy Naoki Higashida, the film allows us to for a moment come close to what people who are unable to express their overwhelming sensations and emotions see and feel.

Gagarine is a story of a block of flats on the outskirts of Paris built by the French Communist Party for the working class in the late 1960s. Strengthening the friendship between the two countries, in 1963, famous Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, personally attended the opening of a building that was to be a symbolic representation of a better future for the working class. In 2019, directing duo Liatard/Trouilh found the prominent building in a bad condition. In that block of flats that is soon to be demolished, their film story about a sixteen-year-old Yuri takes place. What happens to the broken dreams and how much is youth capable to dream, you’ll find out in these 97 minutes, in which the whole space was able to fit.

From the Green Zone selection, we recommend a documentary eco-thriller called Wood. From Siberian taigas and Romanian woods, to rainforests in Peru: the concerns around the world are making billions of dollars from illegal harvesting of the wood. First world consumers are delighted to buy low-price carpentry and furniture, but they would probably be very shocked if they were to find out the origins of those products. This film combines in an exciting way investigative journalism and international espionage and it reveals to which degree the ecological colonialism is spread around the world and in our immediate proximity.

Film portrayal of a world literature icon Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am from director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders was made from a series of interviews with Toni Morrison herself and thirteen more of her contemporaries including Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis and Fran Lebowitz. This is a unique film mosaic about the first Afro-American winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and her literary work. Her life and her work are put in a wider context of  fighting for emancipation and freedom – from Black Power movement to present Black Lives Matter movement.

Welcome to the Free Zone!

Nick Cave opens the 16th Free Zone!

The Free Zone Film Festival will run from November 5 to 10 in Belgrade, Novi Sad, and Niš. The grand opening is set for November 5, leading with the world cinema premiere of the film Idiot Prayer at Kombank Hall at 7 p.m.

The sixteenth edition of the festival will be anything but ordinary. Faced with the unknown in a time filled with uncertainty, The first hybrid Free Zone was brought to life. The closeness remains — although at a distance. And the question poses itself — is such a concept even feasible? Restrained freedom in silence? In semi-isolation. Partially online. Communicating, sharing, and asking questions without looking into each other’s eyes in the cinema’s darkness. What is to be said after such a long time without a glance or a touch? Without so many things that were supposed to happen, and never did, because of the ones that had occurred, changing our realities so unexpectedly? Whatever happened to cuddles? Embraces, kisses, resounding cheers — do you miss the sound of a song? How about the applause? Think of all the magnificent tangible things that have instantly disappeared and are only partially returning.

This year’s opener for the Free Zone, a musical film treat Idiot Prayer, holds the answers to most of these questions.


This musical performance by Nick Cave was recorded on June 19, 2020, shortly after the lockdown in the UK had ended, with a minimal crew, at a completely empty hall of the Alexandra Palace, one of London’s favorite music venues. This time there were no thousands of sweaty bodies swaying and bumping against each other. It was a concert robbed of the noise and the applause. No streams of beer, no mass carrying it, no mobile phones or kisses in the dark — just the empty West Hall. Alone at the piano, a man — dispelling darkness and dissipating loneliness. Nick Cave, on display, for novices and connoisseurs alike. In a span of an hour and a half, without the support of Bad Seeds, he solely drifts through all stages of his vast catalog, from the earliest albums to the latest Ghosteen, including the songs written within the band Grinderman. Those lucky souls who have had the chance to see Nick Cave play live know how challenging describing those emotions can be. Idiot Prayer — the last film of the trilogy, alongside 20,000 Days on Earth and One More Time with Feeling — is ascetically reduced to the essence of the musician’s poetry and music, utterly concise and self-sufficient. The absence of the audience echoes in between songs performed in ecstasy, while they take turns in their alternative forms as solo renditions of the well-known tunes. Cave’s performance can be seen as a prayer for oneself, at the same time addressed to all those who can hear it and recognize themselves in it. It is almost as if we were there with him for a moment.

However, Idiot Prayer is much more than a concert film. It represents a historical turning point factually preserved in a work of art. An emptiness, in which all of humanity has suddenly found itself lost, is being explored in this one-take performance, set to be seen simultaneously by audiences around the world on November 5. Cave himself mentioned that on that June day, with this team, in this unusual set amongst the thermometers, protective masks, and buckets of disinfectants, they created “something very strange and very beautiful that spoke into this uncertain time, but was in no way bored by it”. If you indulge in the glimmering light of the silver screen, you may even recognize the notorious world-saving beauty in it.

This year’s hybrid edition of the Free Zone will present its film program both online and in cinemas. As an alternative to the traditional in-person screenings, audiences across Serbia will be given a chance to immerse themselves in this year’s lineup via KinoKauch, an online platform designed to facilitate access to the latest art house and documentary film releases.

Screenings will take place at various venues, including Kombank Hall in Belgrade (opening ceremony and the premiere of the film), The Cultural Center of Belgrade, Belgrade Youth Center, Yugoslav Cinematheque, Art Cinema “Kolarac”, The Cinema “Fountain” and the Cine Grand in Rakovica. Novi Sad is hosting the projections at The Cultural Center of Novi Sad, and Niš at The Cultural Center of Nis, alongside Cineplexx.

The opening night tickets will be available for purchase from October 8 at the Kombank Hall box office!

This year’s festival is supported by:

The Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, Reconstruction Women’s Fund, the French Institute, and Movies That Matter.

Welcome to the Free Zone!