The screening of the film Erased, a Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian co-production, concluded the 13th Festival of Tolerance. The audience gave a particularly warm welcome to the film’s leading actress Judita Franković Brdar and the rest of the cast and crew, who introduced themselves to the audience after the screening. This award-winning film discusses the issue of “erased” citizens in Slovenia during the 1990s, when citizens of non-Slovenian origin were stripped of their civil rights. The main character is a woman fighting for her rights, a recurring theme in many other films screened as part of this year’s program dedicated to respecting diversity, equality and justice.

Over seven days, the Festival showed 78 feature, documentary and children’s films, which for the most part cannot be seen in regular cinema distribution. The discussions organized as part of the Tolerance Talk program were also well received, having gathered big audiences to discussions on important social issues. Attention was also garnered by two socially engaged exhibitions set up in public spaces of the City of Zagreb. In the remaining program, the Educational Mornings were received particularly well, having given elementary and secondary school students as well as Police Academy cadets the chance to learn about the Holocaust at a lecture given by Holocaust survivor Vesna Domani Hardy and a lecture dedicated to the Majdanek Museum.

The Digital School of Cinema also played an important educational role: elementary and secondary school students attended VR film screenings that taught them about tolerance and empathy towards refugees. "Including children in the program from an early age and in an age-appropriate manner makes them more empathetic, responsible and more involved with their own communities. Small cities such as our own should do more to include their school children in various programs and familiarize them with the real world and its problems,” said Sandra Škarpa, a librarian at the u Lučko Elementary School

Another novelty introduced this year is the Masterclass of Tolerance, a lecture program on the making of relevant films. This year, the lectures were given by Nebojša Slijepčević, director of the documentary film Srbenka and Bobo Jelčić, director of the film A Stranger. "With my lecture, I tried to explain to the audience what it meant to make a film about a divided Mostar. Interestingly, the film never caused any controversy in Mostar, and was received very well in Berlin, which also used to be a divided city.

Despite having to suddenly move a part of the program from the cinema Europa to a new venue, the Festival came to its successful completion without a glitch. "We are happy with this year’s iteration of the Festival despite the issues we’ve had to resolve merely two days before its opening. Still, all programs of the Festival were held in their entirety as initially planned, and we have not received any negative feedback. We particularly value our educational program, which once again garnered large audiences. I would like to extend my gratitude to my team, volunteers, the audience, guests, partners and sponsors for a successful festival. We’re picking up where we left off next year, what we’ve set in motion cannot be stopped,” said Nataša Popović, Director of the Festival of Tolerance.

The Festival was attended by numerous guests, directors and actors of the films shown, including Markus Schleinzer, director of the film Angelo and Marina Gera, leading actress in the award-winning Hungarian film Eternal Winter.

The Festival announced its upcoming cooperation with the organization Ars Septima, which will announce a contest for young unknown screenwriters later this year. The winning screenplay will be published during the 14th Festival of Tolerance in April of 2020.

Photographs by Izvan fokusa

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