EFFE Laureate European Film Festival Palić
Often it seems to be true that the less likely the location, the more interesting and daring is its festival. This is certainly the case with Palić, a small lakeside town a few kilometres from the Hungarian border in the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina. It is not where one might expect to find one of the most established and distinguished film festivals – or one devoted exclusively to European cinema.
Like so many of the EFFE Laureates, that in Palić started at a time of crisis but few can have been as extreme. The break-up of Yugoslavia was in full and bloody flow. “When we started in 1992,” remembers Misha Mogorovic, the Programme Director, “we were under UN sanctions. We had to smuggle prints across the border from Hungary. But ironically it would be harder now. In those days there was a war but no fence.”
At the beginning the aim was just to have a festival – something to show people that there was still life open to the outside world of a kind possible in Serbia – but “when we finally got a chance to work normally we decided to concentrate on European film and to introduce a competition and awards.” The awards still preserve a space for work from those countries once on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain but these days the main focus is on the best films and achievement from across Europe.
In the last fifteen years Misha, a film producer in his own right, has seen massive growth in the number of movies available, thanks to the changing boundaries of technology, but he says neither just putting a film out nor having big studio support is going to get a work programmed in Palić. “We're choosing titles that are not being picked up by the main industry events. We're always looking for new talent, however we've avoided having a debut competition. One cannot speak about having a career after two films. Because the market is so open it's much easier now for debut directors. It's much harder, though, for established directors to stay looking fresh and to remain in the market – so we are more interested in them.”
As far as attending the festival is concerned, with events outdoors as well as in other non-traditional venues, he says directors love to come and be part of it. “They are amazed to find five hundred people turning up for a screening.” He is less impressed by the understanding shown by politicians. “They don't understand who the stars are. They wait till they've seen them in something from Hollywood.”
By Simon Mundy for EFA