Nenad Puhovski • Director, ZagrebDox
“It will take time to fight again for the lost individual identities and peculiarities of our medium-sized and small festivals”
- We had a chance to talk with the founder and director of ZagrebDox to get some insights into the 17th edition of the documentary gathering, set to unspool from 13-20 June
In a few days’ time, the 17th edition of the ZagrebDox International Documentary Film Festival will open and run from 13-20 June at several locations in the Croatian capital: at the SC Cinema, at the &TD Theatre and the MM Centre of the Student Centre in Zagreb, and at the Tuškanac Open Air Cinema (see the news). Cineuropa met up with the founder and director of the major documentary event, Nenad Puhovski, to discuss the difficulties inherent in organising a festival in these troubled times, current documentary trends and how the pandemic will affect the audience’s behaviour.
Cineuropa: How difficult is it to organise a physical event at the moment, and how was it different from previous editions of ZagrebDox?
Nenad Puhovski: We were the first festival in Croatia to be postponed in 2020 owing to the pandemic, and the last to finish before the lockdown in the autumn. So this year's edition is the second one that we are organising in such extraordinary conditions, and like last year, we are planning for it to be completely "live". This edition is closer to our "normal" festivals, but in a way, it was harder to prepare because human, financial and organisational resources are largely exhausted.
What are the highlights of this year’s selection, and what do you think are the main trends in documentary this year?
As always, we try to give our audience an insight into the best documentaries of the recent period, as well as award winners, with titles such as The Earth Is Blue as an Orange [+see also:
interview: Iryna Tsilyk
film profile], The Mole Agent [+see also:
interview: Maite Alberdi
film profile], Radiograph of a Family [+see also:
film profile] and others, but we also aim to show the latest international, regional and national productions. When it comes to trends, given the slowdown in production as well as the longer process involved in making a documentary, I think that the real consequences of the situation we have lived through, and are still living through, will only be seen in films that will be shown in the years to come.
What do you expect from the 17th edition of ZagrebDox, and why should someone attend festival screenings?
I expect viewers to return to the cinema and to dive into the world in which they live, but in a different way than they did during lockdown, when we all narrowed our horizons and watched movies through electronic keyholes – the small screens that we all have.
During last week’s press conference, you mentioned, “It is inconceivable that the documentaries presented by ZagrebDox for the 17th year in a row would not be consumed in cinemas.” Do you think that this time spent away from the movie theatres has affected the relationship that audiences have with the cinemas, or will we be back to “normal” in no time?
As I said, the “new normal” in which we are still living has far more complex and long-lasting consequences than many people are aware of. When it comes to festivals, viewers have become accustomed to the online or streamed offerings of films, which, for the average viewer, have merged into one single, global film festival. It will take time to fight again for the lost individual identities and peculiarities of our medium-sized and small festivals.
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