From Greenland to Brazil and Turkey: Best indie films at Cinehill in Gorski Kotar

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The successor of the Motovun Film Festival reveals a program full of award-winning films from the most prestigious festivals • The first edition held entirely in Gorski Kotar will be marked by many famous guests  

Great films that you have few opportunities to see, those that help you unwind or open important topics, and lots of music, fun and socialising – this is the recipe that the Cinehill festival has successfully transferred from Motovun to Gorski Kotar. Busy as the ants featured in this year’s festival visuals, Cinehill’s team has prepared a rich program, presented for the first time in a parallel media conference via link from Zagreb and Rijeka. Films that have travelled around the globe, filmed in locations from Greenland to Brazil and Turkey, are arriving in Gorski Kotar.

The Petehovac mountain resort is the epicentre of events for this summer’s Cinehill, held for the first time solely in Gorski Kotar, from 24 to 28 July. There will also be more screenings in Delnice and the surrounding towns, as well as many new programming and technical features.

“Last year we broke the ice, while this year everything is bigger and richer. We had one domed cinema for daytime screenings, and now we are preparing two – and we’ll screen some of our best festival during the day, which is why we invite viewers to be join us from the morning, because Petehovac is a great place for day trips. We are also happy that a fair number of foreign and domestic filmmakers will join us on the hill, since most of the titles in the main program will be presented by their authors”, said Cinehill Director Igor Mirković.

The film program is packed with praised indie titles and festival hits from Europe and the rest of the world, which include award-winning features and shorts at Venice, Berlin, Cannes, San Sebastián, Locarno, Sundance and other prestigious festivals.

“This year’s main program is a real mix of genres and poetics, from the black humour romantic comedy Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person which became a festival hit and scooped up numerous audience awards abroad, including awards at festivals in Venice and Thessaloniki, to the double San Sebastián laurate Kalak, the intriguing drama about the consequences of sexual abuse set in Greenland. Two very fresh Croatian minority co-productions come to us from Italy and Iceland, Gianluca Santoni’s My Killer Buddy and Rúnar Rúnarsson’s When the Light Breaks”, revealed Milena Zajović, the main program selector.

There are also several politically pertinent films, from Agnieszka Holland’s phenomenal Green Border, portraying the humanitarian-migration crisis at Europe’s external borders, to Kirill Serebrennikov’s fierce feature arriving fresh from Cannes, Limonov: The Ballad, about the controversial Russian poet and criminal also involved in a shameful episode in the war in Bosnia.

Greek director Sofia Exarchou’s fiction feature Animal speaks about the dark side of tourism in a story about a group of animateurs preparing for an intense summer season in a seaside resort. From the States comes the indie gem Janet Planet, a peculiar child’s take on the unusual world of her hippie mother. Turkish director Asli Özge’s Faruk, which offers a light-hearted approach to a difficult topic such as aging, won the FIPRESCI Prize at the Berlinale.  

The new film by young Croatian director Svebor Mihael Jelić, about a group of youngsters from Osijek who, during a seemingly peaceful evening, find themselves in trouble of unprecedented proportions will also screen at Petehovac. Frka was filmed with a minimal budget, as was Jelic’s previous feature Zagreb Equinox, the most watched domestic film of 2020. Meanwhile, animal lovers will enjoy the Swiss-French comedy based on real-life events, Dog on Trial.

This year’s partner country of the festival is Brazil, sending our way a rich selection of movie hits in the focus program, alongside two Brazilian titles featured in the main program. Marcelo Botta’s feature debut Betânia deals with the problems faced by the villages whose desert oases are threatened by rampant tourism and encroaching sand. Karim Aïnouz’ Motel Destino, an erotic thriller set in a neon-lit sex motel on the Brazilian coast, will undoubtedly also attract the audience’s attention.

An important part of the festival has always been its short film competition program, the winner of which, that is, the best European short, again enters the running for the European Film Award (EFA) nominations.  The program comprises 25 films from 24 countries that had their premieres and won awards at the prestigious festivals in Cannes, Rotterdam, Locarno, Berlin, Sundance, as well as films that will have their world premieres at Cinehill. The program will also present this year’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner, the Croatian short The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent directed by Nebojša Slijepčević, which will screen out of competition.

“In a year in which Croatian shorts won the Cannes Palme d’Or and the European Film Academy nomination for Best European Short at the IFF Rotterdam, we are very proud of our colleagues and hope that these accomplishments will further focus the audience’s attention on this somewhat less conventional, but daring and interesting film format. We are really proud of this year’s Cinehill Shorts program and can’t wait to show it to the audience because it brings a cross-section of important European and world trends, and, above all, an understanding of the world that is not false, does not flatter or pretend, yet is still encouraging”, stressed Inja Korać, the program selector of Cinehill Shorts.

Alongside numerous filmmakers, the festival will also host two guests of honour. British director and rock documentary veteran Julian Temple will receive the Maverick Award for expanding the boundaries of film expression, while the 50 Years Award for five decades of activity in cinema will be awarded to the regional acting legend Bogdan Diklić. In their honour, the festival has also prepared featurette programs with several of their most famous works.

The festival’s new mountain-side location attracts numerous nature lovers. In addition to last year’s well-received walking tours and workshops to learn more about animals and nature, this year Petehovac will be visited by a very special guest, Stipe Božić. Apart from screenings of three of his films, the legendary alpinist and documentarian will hold several talks for the audience. A special treat will be the screening of the documentary Dhaulagiri Express on the zero day of the festival, on Tuesday, 23 July, in the beautiful forest park Golubinjak near the township of Lokve.  

This year, Cinehill descends on the town of Delnice. A portion of the Films of the Year program, reminding us of the season’s best titles, will be shown at the Radnički dom community centre. In addition, the festival will again hold screenings throughout Gorski Kotar and the rest of Croatia.  

In addition to films and nature, there’s a whole host of accompanying arts and entertainment events, including an excellent music program, which this year among others features the bands Let 3 and IDEM. The novelty of this edition is the program Read This, in which Croatian writers will present their new works.  

This year, the festival is strongly supported by the Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, the Tourist Board of Kvarner, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, and the City of Delnice.

“Gorski Kotar, as well as the entire Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, offer amazing vistas and the scenery is an excellent backdrop for film projects, which has been recognised by numerous production teams who have started filming here. We are glad to be able to support Cinehill once again, and we are especially pleased by the fact that part of the program will be held in other locations besides Petehovac. All of this will contribute to the discovery of Gorski Kotar as a prime destination in the years to come”, said the Deputy Prefect of Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Petar Mamula.

The Director of the Kvarner Tourist Board, Irena Peršić Živadinov, thanked the festival for everything it’s doing in the promotion of Gorski Kotar. “Cultural and cinema tourism are very important for our region’s offer, since many visitors come precisely for culture. We will continue to support Cinehill because Gorski Kotar needs events like this.”

Tickets for the film program are already on sale, while ticket bundles at the most affordable prices can be purchased until 12 July. Individual tickets will also be available from 10 July. Ticket can be purchases online, on this link: https://core-event.co/events/cinehill-film-festival-2024-4efa/   All information about the program and the festival is available on the website: cinehill.eu.  

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