9th Motovun International Film Festival
Croatia, July 24 - July 28 2007
Sitting proudly atop Motovun, the self-named Movie Mountain of this small Istrian town comes alive for a few days in July. Motovun is the festival that mainly attracts the Croatian youth but welcomes all ages and backgrounds to share the film experience. Now in its ninth year, it is celebrated as a place that looks like the set of Cinema Paradiso but with a Sundance meets Glastonbury atmosphere. Motovun manages to be laid back and informal but at the same time serious about its program of films. Igor Mirkovic and Rajko Grlic, along with Jurica Pavicic, chose 100 films for five days that included a retrospective of Japanese horror alongside the main program. This influenced choosing some films in competition such as The Art of Crying (Kunsteb at graede I kor), Mad World (Heile Welt) and particularly Dead in Three Days (In 3 Tagen bist du tot).
The unique venues were part of the festival’s charm, both indoors and outside. The main venue for screenings is the town’s square with its temporary screen and seating alongside the medieval church that towers over Motovun. The indoor Bauer Cinema is small but its origins go back over 100 years. After closing in 1988, it reopened as a permanent cinema for the first Motovun film festival in 1999. An even smaller cinema was found at the other side of the square and a walk down the hill led to another outdoor venue, the Barbacan, close to the old city wall with brilliant views of Istria. It was also encouraging to witness so many young people queuing for screenings.
Films were competing for the Main Jury Prize (The Propellor of Motovun), FIPRESCI Certificate, The Amnesty International Human Rights Award, From A to A (for best film in the Albania to Austria region), Motovun Online (Short Films) and the Audience Award. Our jury awarded the British film Hallam Foe by David Mackenzie, with Island (Ostrov) and previous jury winner Day Night Day Night high on our shortlist. After presenting the Propellor Award to Sweet Mud (Adama Meshuga’at), Head of Main Jury István Szabó lamented the passings of German actor Ulrich Mühe and the Hungarian cinematographer László Kovács just prior to the festival. The subsequent deaths of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni were another reminder that the award winners of today still have some way to go in emulating such geniuses of cinema. Motovun, meanwhile, can look forward to the great films of tomorrow. (Steven Yates)