Free zone festival

Free Zone Film Festival helps the Serbian audience in perceiving problems and the condition of human rights in the country, as well as the world, in order to encourage a review of the stances on wide spectre of social problems. By popularizing engaged cinematography which is not part of the usual film repertoire in Serbia, Free Zone Festival creates a scope for promotion, rethinking and understanding the present social occurrences and problems, including the potential for all social factors to get involved in solving them. The transitional period that Serbia is currently going through, had a great influence on establishing the fertile grounds for the right-wing, nationalist and extremist ideologies. The growth of violence related with ethnical, gender or ideological differences is a serious obstacle in the development of democratic and tolerant society. Young generations that are the foundation of the future society, had become disoriented and characterized by intolerance and the lack of ability to understand the problems of the Others.

Although the cultural contents in Serbia are often in the last place in developmental policies of democratic society, they represent the basis for building a counter-front to intolerance, given that they don’t pose superficial nor expert questions, but they point out to the core of actions and positions in an approachable manner. Free Zone Festival was created with the purpose to address to two major issues that contribute the negative progression of values: reduced tolerance in Serbia and reduced presence of quality cultural contents, which indicate troubling social occurrences, and in way that communicates well with the audience.

The Festival strives to awake a rational degree of compassion with the audience, which also suppresses the feeling of alienation and hatred, all in a non-commercial but very accessible media of engaged cinema. This is accomplished by popularizing the engaged cinematography which is not a part of the usual cinema repertoire in Serbia. The main goal of the Free Zone Festival is to create space for promotion, rethinking and understanding of the present social occurrences and problems, and the potentials of all social actors to get involved in their solving or improvement.

Since 2005 the selection of international films that cover different human rights issues within the Free Zone tend to bring the audience closer with information on different initiatives, (potential) solutions and examples of good and bad practices that serve as an inspiration and initiators of discussions and actions on local level. The attention of the festival audience is often guided, although it’s not limited, to the position of marginalized groups and their problems in all parts of the world. The selection of film media, the artistic approach and the quality of interpretation contribute a great deal to the amount of recipients that these important messages should reach.

The diverse accompanying program of the festival is more than impressive. Each year the selectors tend to include engaged films and documentaries from this region into the festival program. The attention is also given to the high school students and screenings that are organized specially for them. The repertoire includes the films selected by the Guest Selector – a public figure that with his actions in the public and also with his personal values represent the values of the Festival itself.  Every year, after the screenings, visitors of this festival have the opportunity to meet with the authors and the starring actors, ask questions and go into discussions. What is new to the festival, are the Late Night Conversations inspired by topics that some of the films raise. The Festival gives out two awards – The Audience Award and The Award to the Audience. After each screening the audience can vote for the film that left them with the greatest impression. Based on those votes the best film is declared and awarded by purchasing rights for its screening on one of the TV stations, as well as in 30 Serbian cities, during the Free Zone Film Festival Tour, are acquired.

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