Radoslav Zelenović, director of the Palić European Film Festival: Palić European Film Festival – 130 films from all over Europe

The festival is being held at several locations, including the unique Summer Stage in Palić, as well as the Eurocinema, Abazija and Lifka cinema theaters

Radoslav Zelenović, director of the Palić European Film Festival

This year, the twenty-eighth edition of the Palić European Film Festival will be held in the traditional festival term, from 17 to 23 July in Palić and Subotica, organized by the Open University Subotica. This year, the festival is being held at several locations, including the unique Summer Stage in Palić, as well as the Eurocinema, Abazija and Lifka cinema theaters. During the pre-festival program and the central part of the event, the audience will be presented with more than 130 films from all over Europe, in 15 different sections and program units.

After last year’s “pandemic” festival, this year’s edition of the Palić European Film Festival seems to arrive in somewhat calmer health and organizational circumstances. How satisfied are you with the current phase of preparations and is everything going according to your wishes?

It seems paradoxical, but this year we have the same number of films as in the best years of our Festival, over 130. Some circumstances did and some did not go our way. Like last year, we are among the first Festivals to be held during this calendar year. We start when Cannes, which has moved the date of the event, ends. This means that we will screen some films to our audience immediately after Cannes, which is good. After us, Karlovy Vary, from where we took a film or two, and gave our Festival the final look.

“Palić European Film Festival has been declared, by the European Commission, to be the best film festival in Europe in 2017”

Regardless of the current epidemiological situation, that has changed over time, programmers and the art director sent each film on time to the Open University – our Executive Producer, to start on time with reservations, because this year’s Festival is held on a regular basis from 17 to 23 July. Last year’s experience taught us that changes of dates are always possible not once, but more than once, and that should be anticipated when films screening timetable is scheduled.

This year’s Alexander Lifka Award laureates are Aleksandar Berček and Kristijan Pecold. What do you think about their contribution to Serbian and European cinema? Will we see both of them at Palić this year?

We have always paid a lot of attention to the Alexander Lifka Award laureates. So we will to this year’s laureates, too.

Aleksandar Berček is one of the most important film and television creators from our region. Not only does his filmography include over 120 roles in films and series, but also because many of his works are the most significant part of the Serbian cultural heritage regarding moving images.

Christian Pecold is the leading author of German cinema. The German Critics Association has twice named his films the best and he is well known to our film lovers.

This year, we are also introducing special Alexander Lifka Award for author from Cinema in Focus program. This is another way to draw attention to the author’s contribution, above all, to his national cinema. This year, Slovenian cinema is in focus and I am very happy that we will present the award to the great Slovenian actress Milena Zupančič.

On several occasions, at the moment when you decided that the Palić festival should be dedicated to European cinema, you talked about fact that European film was not so popular in Serbia. Do you think that today there is a different attitude towards it and how much has the festival itself changed that perception among the audience? Is Palić today a festival for “serious” adult audiences and does it manage to address young people as well?

We have been working on the design of the Festival for a long time. On the first meeting with one of the co-founders, Blažo Perović, we agreed to try to find a solid concept of the Festival in 1992 for the next ten years. We experimented in various ways and came to the conclusion that it is good to focus on European film. It was a big surprise for many people. Not only, as you said, because European film was not very popular. What followed differed from what was seen before. I still think that the space where our Festival is held can accept such a change, and I was right. Films we screened, the authors we met, enabled the audience, film critics, journalists, to make Palić a meeting place, where problems, which are not few throughout Europe, are openly and critically discussed.

I don’t know to what extent the Festival changed the audience, but I know, because I have been present from the very beginning, that the audience accepted the European film and that makes us all winners.

“This year’s Alexander Lifka Award laureates are Aleksandar Berček and Kristijan Pecold”

Our Festival has been declared, by the European Commission, to be the best film festival in Europe in 2017, and that is probably the biggest recognition we have received so far. This confirmed that anything is possible.

This year you celebrate 50 years of working in cinema. What do you think of the previous period – are you satisfied with everything you did or you would, from the position of “afterthought”, do something differently? With such a rich legacy and still current career, what are your future ambitions?

After 50 years of professional filmmaking, it is quite clear that my life without film would be a mistake. I went through all the levels, from the editor of the Youth Center film program (from 1971 to 1979) to the editor of Television Belgrade film program. I didn’t even assume that I would stay in the Yugoslav Film Archive for that long period (from 1992 to 2016). When I thought it was the end, came the invitation from Vladimir Kostić, the president of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, to form the Audiovisual Archive and the center for digitization of the material stored in Academy. In a relatively short period of time, we prepared the space for the Archive in Belgrade and Sremski Karlovci, procured equipment, trained people, digitized a the material … I finished my part of the work as the first Manager of the Archive in 2020.

I often tell my students, while teaching Film History at BK University: “Be careful not to remember your life by the risks you didn’t take.” I took my own and was able to cope with them because I had the wholehearted support by my late wife Vesna and our son Đorđe, who is also involved in film, continuing the family tradition.

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