Student Film Has to Be Taken Seriously!

International Student Film Festival STIFF starts this Thursday in Rijeka


19:30, 20.10.” Schoolyard Blues”, Maria Eriksson Hecht

On Thursday, October 18th “Art kino” in Rijeka will be hosting the 5th International Student Film Festival – STIFF. The festival will bring some of the best films by young authors – students from all over the world that is people whose work proves that student film as such should be taken very seriously the quality and diversity of access within student production often exceeds the work of formidable filmmakers.

The Executive Director of the Film Festival Maša Drndić together with Art Director Sanja Marjanović have, after reviewing an extensive number of applications, selected 44 films of all genres: 19 fiction, 16 animated and 9 documentaries coming from 22 countries, and ranging from Iceland across Europe to Israel and China; and six of which are works of Croatian authors.


20:30, 19.10. “Dva na Dva”, Jelena Oroz

This year’s festival theme is dreams, to which Maša Drndić comments: “Given that last year we have been discussing the system as such, its purpose and limitations, this year we wanted to make a step further and ask ourselves and each other if there is any space left for dreaming and for the dreamers. That is why this year’s theme deals with films that work with the re-examination of all of our identities and the balance between the severe reality and desires. Therefore, most of the protagonists of this year’s selection carry certain subtle Don Quixote traits. A large number of films are ‘shifted stories’, coming of age films, films that depict individual and community relationships, migration stories and also some new environments that alter dreams and adapt identities” – That is how Maša Drndić explains this year’s topic – Dreams.

Speaking of trends, Sanja Marjanović notices that in the fiction film, the authors are increasingly playing with the limits. “They often provoke the viewer in order of triggering a crude, instinctive reaction, and they also aim to disrupt the numbing conformation to the senses which always desire some superficial content. The animations are very diverse in style this year and they are skillfully, through metaphors, dealing with issues of identity, belonging and loss of a loved one, while the documentaries are quite varied: we’ll see portraits and personal stories, migration stories, international love affairs, and many other stories”.

The programme is divided into ten selection titles each containing a few short films. The festival opens a with a selection title Forbidden Days which raises the issues about our privacy today; what are the limits of propriety in the distorted world of Internet morality and what happens when we leave the safety zone of the Internet? An example of this is a fiction film Majda’s Poses by Dora Šustić, a Rijeka director, who made the film during her studies at the prestigious Czech Academy FAMU.

The opening of the festival is scheduled for Thursday at 20.30h and will be followed by a selection title Tales of Postmodernity in which the films deal with a reality of being bombarded with mediated experiences and information. This selection title includes an extraordinarily interesting Romanian documentary Looking at Others which was shown at the prestigious Jihlava Documentary Festival last year. The film brings a story about a new Romanian tourist offer – a tourist vacation in the everyday life of Roma families. Another interesting film is Two on Two by the Croatian author Jelena Oroz, who is also the author of the film Wolf Games, shown at the prestigious International Animated Film Festival in Annecy.


19:00, 19.10. “Majdas Poses”, Dora Šustić

On Friday, the program begins with a selection title Balance, which consists mostly of politically engaged films, such as the Slovenian documentary Last Two Weeks, best student film of the New Delhi International Short Film Festival 2018. It is a story about Rahul, a resident of one of the colonies in New Delhi who leaves his country for the first time in his life, to go to work for a non-profit organization in Slovenia.

Selection title Round Corners deals with the issue of identity and its “round corners”, featuring films such as the Polish film Nothing New under the Sun, which was premiered on the Krakow Film Festival, and whose protagonist Michal lives and works in a village, doing the same things every day, until the day that a girl he had met on the Internet is supposed to visit. In this selection title, the audience will also see the documentary Consequences of Work by a Croatian director Inesa Antić, depicting liberation and the consequences of work in the interpretation of a singer, performer and run-away-worker Zoja Borovčanin.

On Saturday, within Insiders, a selection title woven of stories about social victims, we will see, among others, the Icelandic feature film Thick Skin which deals with exploring a new perspective on rape in Icelandic society. The selection title Parasomnia works on the magic of change and will, among other great films also show the Slovakian fiction film Atlantis, 2003 which depicts the refugee crisis, and which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in the official selection of Cinéfondation and at the prestigious Czech Karlovy Vary Festival.

Mind the Gap! is the selection title that brings movies with the common interest for the fight between a “small” individual and the “big” institutions, wherein a typical representative would be the French FIFO (First in First Out), a film that already visited half of the festivals around the world, and that speaks about the big issue of throwing food away.

On the last day of the festival, Sunday and before the closing ceremony of proclaiming the winner (at 21 hours), in the selection title Backwards we will see films about the duality of human (and other) stories. An example is a documentary Outside, a film made of personal family footage, by a Croatian author Vladimir Tatomir; also the Slovak fiction film A Warm Comedy about Depression, whose director Michal Ďuriš has been noted among the ten young filmmakers whose work should be followed on the 53rd Karlovy Vary.

The selection title Lucid Dreams brings films about those who have made their dreams come true, such as is Ljiljana, a female taxi driver and the protagonist of the documentary Where to Go? by a Croatian director Lidija Špegar. The last selection title carries the name Focal Point and unites films that say that, if we focus only on blurring the borders, we will miss out on a unique opportunity – not to define them but to discover them. A representative of this selection title is a darling German animated film Death of a Fruit Fly where a little fruit fly defies death in an eminently “Italian way”.

The films will be categorized according to genres and a nine-person committee will decide on the best films. The fiction film committee is constituted by the Art Director of the Croatian Short Films for the Diversions International Short Film Festival, Toma Zidić; the winner of STIFF’s Award for “Best Fiction Film”, Ely Chevillot; and the young Bosnian filmmaker Sajra Subašić. The committee for animated films consists of: the producer of the Animafest in Zagreb, Matea Milić; the young Rijeka-born animation filmmaker Noemi Ribić; and the student of the Academy of Applied Arts at the University of Rijeka, Elena Apostolovski. The best documentary film will be decided by a committee consisting of: the Rijeka documentarist Zoran Krema; the winner of the STIFF Award for “Best Documentary” Maximilian Feldmann; and the graduate student at the Department of Cultural Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Rijeka, Betty Stojnić.

The fact that within every jury there is one student is no coincidence: it is the effort of this festival to involve students in all parts of its organization. As a result of this endeavor, this year, the creation of one of the selection titles was left to students – young people who have been following and volunteering at STFF for years, and who were members of the STIFF’s Student Film Committee: Marta Ban and Sendi Bakotić. – They have created an additional selection title Backwards which consists of films that are transgressing the borders between the standard film genres. STIFF’s discursive personality is also manifested through after-screening conversations entitled “Dreamcatchers” which follow each selection title. The titles Tales of Postmodernity, Round Corners and Mind the Gap! will bring a number of interesting and relevant interlocutors. The “Dreamcatchers” were designed by Greta Grakalić-Rački, Petra Bezjak, and Natalija Stefanović.