Award-winning writer Dubravka Ugrešić will receive the SEEfest Legacy Award and Marija Škaričić (MARE) and Jasna Djuričić (QUO VADIS, AIDA?) will both receive the inaugural Legacy Acting Award.
The 2021 South East European Film Festival (SEEfest) (April 28-May 5), co-presented by ELMA, foundation for European Languages and Movies in America, announced the lineup of official selections for the 16th annual edition of the Los Angeles-based film festival. Presenting and celebrating cinematic and cultural diversity of 18 countries of the Balkans and Caucasus to American audiences, the film festival continues to provide a platform in the U.S. for the discovery of new talent from South East Europe.
SEEfest will honor internationally celebrated author Dubravka Ugrešić (“The Age of Skin,” “Baba Yaga Laid an Egg”) with this year’s Legacy Award (April 17) and Marija Škaričić (Mare) and Jasna Djuričić (Quo Vadis, Aida?) with the film festival’s inaugural Legacy Acting Award.
A true discovery film festival, this year’s virtual presentation is once again rich with premieres, including two world premieres (Elka Nikolova’s A Question of Survival and Kata Oláh’s My Digital Nomad), and two international premieres, Jadran Boban’s That Other Village, and Sidar İnan Erçelik’s Wind Horse. Among the seven North American premieres at SEEfest are Marko Djordjević’s My Morning Laughter, Gjergj Xhuvani’s final feature, My Lake, Ivan Živković’s Galeb (Tito’s Boat), Nebojša Slijepčević‘s 70, Ivana Marinić Kragić’s Nun of Your Business, Bruno Pavić’s Landscape Zero, and Pavel Cuzuioc’s Please Hold the Line. The two films making U.S. premieres are Marija Perović’s Breasts, and Catherine Harte’s Faith & Branko.
SEEfest Executive Director Vera Mijojlić, said,
“This is another exciting year programming-wise with several films from South East Europe set to make their debut here in the States with our virtual film festival presentation. We are especially excited to host a conversation with our wonderful Legacy Award honoree Dubravka Ugrešić on April 17 and the opportunity to celebrate the great work by Marija Škaričić and Jasna Djuričić, who star in four of our highly anticipated selections, Mare, Breasts, Quo Vadis, Aida?, and My Morning Laughter with the inaugural Legacy Acting Award.”
Making their world premieres at SEEfest will be two documentaries, including Elka Nikolova’s US and Bulgarian co-production, A Question of Survival, which traces the legacy of the Holocaust in the Balkans, as seen through the eyes -and conflicting memories- of three Bulgarian Jewish survivors in New York, and Kata Oláh’s My Digital Nomad, an intimate, first-person documentary from Hungary about the nomadic lifestyle turns into an intimate conversation between mother and daughter throughout countries and years.
SEEfest’s two International premieres include; Jadran Boban’s Croatian film That Other Village about a remote village that changed twice its name, population, and its own history as it continues to be torn by never-ending historical traumas triggering new conflicts; and Sidar İnan Erçelik’s Wind Horse, a poetic Turkish film which tells the story of two shepherds from Anatolia, one of whom becomes a celebrated jockey; the film juxtaposes human desire for success with the toll on the spirit of freedom in both humans and horses.
North American premieres include; Ivana Marinić Kragić’s Nun of Your Business, a Croatian film about two young nuns, driven by their blossoming love, who choose to leave the convent and start a new life together; Marko Djordjević’s My Morning Laughter, a Serbian dramedy about a 30-year-old trying to lose his virginity; and the late Gjergj Xhuvani’s final feature, My Lake, an Albanian drama about a man who has become a small-time marijuana smuggler to support his family.
Following in the tradition of SEEfest films which bring to life world history in a dynamic way is Ivan Živković’s Galeb (Tito’s Boat), a Croatian film which tells the story of the ship that Yugoslav president Tito sailed numerous times, visiting close to 20 countries as he negotiated an alliance of non-aligned countries, the world’s largest after the United Nations. Other North American premieres include Nebojša Slijepčević‘s 70, a documentary about the LADO Ensemble, the only professional folk music and dance ensemble in Croatia.
Bruno Pavić’s Croatian film, Landscape Zero will also make its North American Premiere, as will Pavel Cuzuioc’s Austrian film Please Hold the Line. The former follows the lives of people who are either fighting for their survival among dangerous facilities surrounding their homes or coexisting with them in harmony, while the latter focuses on cable technicians in Eastern Europe as they navigate a modern-day Tower of Babel. One of the 2 films making its U.S. premiere is Catherine Harte’s Faith & Branko, an intimate story that chronicles the cross-cultural relationship between musicians Faith and Branko over seven years.
Legacy Acting Award honoree Marija Škaričić stars in two other highly anticipated films among SEEfest’s official selections. Andrea Štaka’s Mare, a multiple award-winner including the Solothurn Prize, is a Swiss and Croatian co-production about a woman dedicated to her family life, yet always feeling out of place until a chance romantic encounter with a new neighbor just may put everything to the test. Marija Perović’s Breasts, which makes its U.S. premiere, is a light-hearted drama from Montenegro about four friends from high school brought together again at their 20-year reunion, who all are forced to go beyond the usual pleasantries when it is revealed that one of them has become gravely ill.
Fellow Legacy Acting Award honoree Jasna Djuričić stars in Jasmila Žbanić’s Quo Vadis, Aida? a 2021 Academy Award nominee for International Feature Film from Bosnia Herzegovina, the film follows a translator for the UN in a small town taken over by the Serbian army forcing her to use her connections as an insider to look out for the safety of her family and people. Eugen Jebeleanu’s directorial debut Poppy Field follows the struggle of a young Romanian gendarme who tries to balance two opposing parts of his identity: that of a man working in a macho hierarchical environment and that of a closeted gay man. Andrei Zinca’s So, What’s Freedom? is a Romania and U.S. co-production inspired by real events exploring how the lives of a group of people turn when they discover their freedom has become a forced exile.
ABOUT SOUTH EAST EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL (SEEfest)
Twice the recipient of the prestigious festival grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and five other awards for programming excellence from the State of California, County and City of Los Angeles, Cities of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, and Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s festival grant, the festival’s growing list of renowned organizations which now support the festival includes the California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, ELMA Foundation, UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, Blue Heron Foundation, Villa Aurora artists residence, Film & Ink LLC, West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, as well as a roster of cultural community partners representing the diversity of our State.
South East European Film Festival Los Angeles (SEEfest) is a competition festival presenting cinematic and cultural diversity of 18 countries of the Balkans and Caucasus to American audiences. It provides a platform in the U.S. for the discovery of new talent from South East Europe, with a wide selection of films, art, and literary talks, workshops, and panels. The film festival serves as the cultural hub and resource for scholars and filmmakers, and creates opportunities for cultural exchange between Hollywood industry professionals and filmmakers from South East Europe. It is a 501 © 3 non-profit, public benefit corporation. For more information, visit https://seefilmla.org/.