International Festival of Film Directing LIFFE is traditionally held in Leskovac, for the 16th time and in the period from 14th to 19th September, when the audience will have the chance to watch the most significant film productions by authors from the country and the world, and Leskovac will become festival and film capital of Serbia and the region.
The slogan of this year’s festival is “Action!”, and more than 50 films in different categories will be screened and will compete for several awards. As every year, the organizers have prepared a rich supporting program in the form of book promotions, workshops, forums and concerts that bring the true festival spirit to this city.
Today, on 31st August, a press conference was held where it was spoken about the festival and the program of the festival was presented by Sanja Conic, the director of the Cultural Center in Leskovac, the organizer of the festival, Darko Bajic, the artistic director of the festival, Misa Radivojevic, a film director and one of the authors of the monography “Zivojin Zika Pavlovic. Cinema-poet of great blackness”, the first one from the LIFFE edition “Famous Directors”. Directors Uros Tomic and Marko Sopic spoke about the selection of the program “Wild Film”. Darja Bajic-Bozovic presented the selection for the best director of a mini TV series, as well as a TV series of up to 12 episodes produced in the cultural space of the former Yugoslavia, and Dragan Jovic, director of the Leskovac Cultural Center cinema, spoke about the Student Film selection.
The director of the Cultural Center in Leskovac, Sanja Conic, said, “In 16 years, the festival has grown into a prestigious cultural event that represents the brand of the city of Leskovac and is extremely important for the directors of the region because they have been given a safe place where they can talk about the challenges they encounter at the traditional conference held every year at the festival. The Cultural Center Leskovac and the city of Leskovac selflessly support this event, as well as the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia and the Film Center of Serbia.”
In the main competition program of the festival, eight films from the region were announced as chosen by the selector, Croatian director and screenwriter Ognjen Svilicic, who addressed the audience via video, and the best film in this category will be announced by a three-member jury consisting of Damjan Kozole, director, Nenad Pavlovic, director and screenwriter, and Ljubomir Bandovic, actor.
“This year’s selection shows that the former Yugoslavia really wants to live life to the fullest, but the past won’t let us. The struggle of a person from the area of former Yugoslavia is always a struggle with the past, we all have that in common. These films invite us to win this battle and embrace life. So, the name of this festival, or rather the abbreviation LIFFE, is an invitation to such a gathering for our better future,” said Svilicic.
The selectors of the “Wild Film” program, Uros Tomic and Marko Sopic, presented a new award named after the legendary director Dusan Makavejev, which is awarded for the best director in the international selection.
“As selectors, we tried to choose authors from all over the world who offer innovations in the film language, just as Makavejev did in his films, and yet, successfully communicate with audiences around the world and are not hermetic, as neither were films by Makavejev. We were thinking about which name could stand side by side with the name of the Zivojin Zika Pavlovic award, so Dusan Makavejev was a logical choice.”
“The LIFFE festival always pays attention and listens to what the audience wants, but also takes great care of what professionals need. The artistic team of LIFFE came to the conclusion that, amidst the huge hyperproduction of series year after year, it is necessary to make some sort of valorization. Directors from the region are competing at the festival this year in two categories: directing the best mini-series and directing the best episode of a drama series,” said Darija Bajic-Bozovic. “The festival continues the tradition of premiering series before their television appearance. This year, we are very pleased to present the series “The Call” directed by Marko Djilas, the series “Tunnel” directed by Lazar Ristovski and the series “Tycoon 2” directed by Ivan Stefanovic and Jelena Gavrilovic.
Dragan Jović, the initiator of the festival, presented the Student Program, which will feature films by students of state art faculties from the entire region. “Students’ productions will compete for three awards, which are named after the famous professor of film direction at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Radomir Baja Saranovic. The winners will be decided by a three-member jury, and they will also receive cash prizes. We have also prepared a rich supporting program for students.
Darko Bajić, director and artistic director of the festival, spoke about the importance of the festival and the Yugoslav heritage that the festival preserves through its program.
“This year we are in action, as the slogan of the festival itself says. We want to create a bigger, more significant festival, although we are sure that it has already achieved its main goal, which is to show and preserve from oblivion the history, heritage and films of cultural space. The festival aims to support co-productions in the region and to talk about the importance of the Yugoslav space, which inevitably influenced the world’s cinematography. We want to go back to the experiment, as Makavejev and Pavlovic did by winning freedom in the film.
He added: “The action refers to a heated train that leaves from Leskovac towards the world, along with a selection of films that will be shown. We have made sure that it is a program that would interest all viewers from Serbia, journalists, and especially the audience from Leskovac.”
At the conference, this year’s laureate of the Zivojin Zika Pavlović Award for the affirmation of the regional film art in the world, one of the most prominent Yugoslav directors and screenwriters, Milos Misa Radivojevic, was announced. Radivojevic thanked them for the award and pointed out that it is an extraordinary honour for him to be in the company of the greatest film artists from the region. In previous years, the laureates of this award were Slobodan Sijan, Emir Kusturica, Goran Paskaljevic, Rade Serbedzija, Goran Markovic, Milco Mancevski and many other important names of regional cinematography.
“Wild Film” was also presented at the conference, the selection which will present eight films by directors from all over the world. The audience in Leskovac will have the privilege to watch, for the first time in Serbia, seven premiers. This category represents a tribute to the legendary director Dusan Makavejev, and all films in the selection continue the specific film language that he nurtured. Also, this year, the main festival prize for directing bears his name. A three-member jury consisting of Greta Scacchi, actress, Yann Dedet, editor and Robb Moss, director, will decide which film will receive an award in this category.
The traditional Conference of the Directors at the Leskovac Cultural Center, which takes place every year, has also been announced, and the topics that the big names in film directing will talk about are the position and existence of the director, which will be the topic in focus.
“It’s an action! It’s not just a matter of existence, it’s also a matter of a better film,” said Darko Bajic.
The festival takes place in the Leskovac Cultural Center and the National Theatre in Leskovac, and all information about the programs is available on the website https://liffe.rs.