The story of a group of children liberated from the horrors of a concentration camp during World War II only to face hunger and dread in an abandoned building in the forest, in the startling award-winning film by the Polish director Adrian Panek Werwolf, officially kicked off the 13th Festival of Tolerance – JFF Zagreb.

”It is most horrible when children are victims of war. This is why both in Poland and in Croatia we have to work on systematically dealing with these issues. I am glad that the Festival has chosen to open with the subject of the wartime suffering of children”, said Adrian Panek.

Two-time Academy Award winner Branko Lustig, founder of the Jewish Film Festival, garnered the strongest applause from the audience, which included a delegate of the President of the Republic of Croatia, representatives of the ministries, parliamentary representatives, foreign ambassadors, numerous actors, directors and representatives of the City of Zagreb. Milan Bandić, Mayor of Zagreb, pointed out that the Festival of Tolerance is a valuable cultural event that raises awareness about the most important topics of a modern society – not merely respecting, but also celebrating diversity and the fundamental principles of equality, freedom, justice and brotherhood.

The Festival of Tolerance is a socially engaged film festival with a clear mission: to work on a better and more tolerant society.

”None of this would have been possible if 13 years ago I had not learned from the best, Branko Lustig. Although we were forced to change the main cinema in the last 24 hours, not one film has been removed from the program. Thanks to the assistance of the City of Zagreb, the Student Center Cinema, as well as the cinemas Kinoteka and Tuškanac, the antire announced program will stay intact, allowing this year’s audiences to enjoy the real thing. I am happy to have a team around me that has managed to move the entire festival program to new locations and adjust the program within 14 hours, although it seemed impossible”, said Director of the Festival of Tolerance, Nataša Popović.

”As far as the films themselves are concerned, the first criterion is always quality. In the times and context we are living in today, we have to work on tolerance and human rights. That was how we selected the films. Seven days of important must-see films await you”, said Festival Producer Hrvoje Pukšec.

This year’s iteration of the Festival will be held from today until Saturday, April 13, in the Student Center cinema as well as the cinemas Kinoteka and Tuškanac, offering about 80 films, five round-table discussions, two exhibitions, two Masterclass lectures, discussion forums, VR youth projects as well as an educational program.

This year’s Festival is organized with the support of the City of Zagreb, UNHCR, Orbico, the Croatian Audiovisual Center, the City of Zagreb Tourist Board, the Atlantic Group and the Putniković agricultural cooperative.

The exciting opening night of the Festival was rounded up by a great concert by the Austrian jazz attraction Hi5, who push the boundaries of the genre with their seductive combination of drums, guitars, vibraphone and bass.

Photographs (Izvan fokusa)

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