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PALIĆ 2019

Nenad Dukić • Programmer, European Film Festival Palić

“Fostering young talents is one of the aims of any festival”


- We sat down with Nenad Dukić, a programmer for European Film Festival Palić, one of the most prominent events in the Balkan region

Nenad Dukić  • Programmer, European Film Festival Palić
(© SITA/Marián Peiger)

We had the chance to meet up with Nenad Dukić, a member of European Film Festival Palić's programming team. The conversation covered several topics, such as the line-up of Palić's 26th edition, the role of festivals in fostering young filmmakers' talent, the impact of the event on the local community, and the gathering’s future plans. The Serbian festival, which is taking place from 20-26 July this year, is one of the most prominent in the Balkan region and will be brought to a close by the screening of the Dardenne brothers' drama Young Ahmed [+see also:
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, which was previously selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at Cannes in May.

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Cineuropa: Could you describe the mission of European Film Festival Palić?
Nenad Dukić: The mission of every festival specialising in European films is to showcase – as much as possible – high-quality European cinema and to pick movies within a unique context. In detail, this festival tries to introduce some of the year’s best European pictures, either in competition or out of competition (films by established directors, such as Pedro Almodóvar's Pain & Glory [+see also:
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interview: Antonio Banderas
Q&A: Pedro Almodóvar
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, are normally screened out of competition), as well as to select those titles that were recently awarded at the most prestigious international festivals. Finally, the collateral sections focus on highlighting other aspects of filmmaking, such as shorts, young auteurs, national film industries and documentaries.

Why did you choose to open the festival with Pedro Almodóvar's Pain & Glory?
Almodóvar is one of those directors who have made a mark in European cinema over the last 30 years. His new feature stands out from his filmography, and it is still fresh in the audience's memory, as it was released about four months ago. It won the Award for Best Actor at Cannes, and Almodóvar is very well known by the mass audience. I think these are certainly some very good reasons to choose it!

How is the community responding to the festival's initiatives?
Little by little, the audience has started visiting Palić from neighbouring towns. They come to see something they're not familiar with. We tell them: “You're going to watch the best of European cinema,” and that they'll see films that are not simple but are characterised by complex, sophisticated narratives. In fact, we do not screen mainstream films that will easily draw in large audiences. We insist on showing high-quality pieces that do not get mainstream distribution. That's one of the reasons why our festival exists.

What is the role of film festivals in fostering young talents? What is the purpose of the “Parallels and Encounters” section in this respect?
Fostering young talents is one of the aims of any festival, not just the specialised ones, but also the biggest events, such as Cannes, Berlin and Venice. Besides the main competition and screening films by established directors, they showcase a number of directorial debuts, often produced by lesser-known film industries, in order to enable the discovery of new talents. The same thing happens with smaller festivals, such as this one: we are screening new directors' films from all around Europe, especially in the “Parallels and Encounters” section, and these are mostly watched by a particular group of niche film enthusiasts. Usually, these fans do not like what is being shown by the multiplexes and struggle to experience a different type of cinema. These people are definitely a minority, but they still demand their rights!

How would you judge the state of contemporary Hungarian cinema? Why is the “New Hungarian Cinema” section so important for Palić?
As Palić is on the border with Hungary and a large minority of Hungarians live in this region, we always host one section dedicated to this national film industry. Every year, I look for at least one Hungarian film to include in the main competition. Hungarian cinema is currently going through a positive phase, which began five or six years ago. The situation was totally different 15-20 years ago, when nothing memorable was released and Hungarian films weren't particularly successful on the festival circuit. I think that, for smaller countries, this comes in waves – for instance, Romanian cinema was extremely popular ten or 15 years ago. It's definitely something that we can't predict.

Are there any other Eastern European film industries that have piqued your interest?
Latvian cinema is deserving of our attention. The cinema of the Baltic countries has long been confined to the shadows, but things are changing now. There is also an excellent Latvian film in our main programme, Juris Kursietis' Oleg [+see also:
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interview: Juris Kursietis
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, which was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at Cannes this year. Luckily enough, in every European country, you can find some high-quality films nowadays; as for the quantity of them, it's a matter of numbers. Obviously, in big industries such as France, you can have five or six notable films per year.

What are your long-term plans and ambitions?
Our main ambition is to improve the festival's infrastructure so that more people can attend it. Due to the growing numbers of films screened in the side sections, for instance, the building of one more hotel and one more screening venue would definitely help [incidentally, the latter is in the works]. Moreover, we would like to develop our educational programme for both the audience and young film critics as well as to foster further networking opportunities.

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