This year’s X jubilee edition of the Human Rights Film Festival FAST FORWARD Montenegro has its thematic focus on dealing with the past, gender equality and LGBT rights, with numerous crosscutting contemporary human rights challenges communicated through impressive most recently produced films. FAST FORWARD 2019 brings the greatest number of premieres so far, but also an exhibition and series of panel discussions.
FAST FORWARD 2019 will be opened on Tuesday, 10 December – the International Human Rights Day, at 20h00 with the film THE DIARY OF DIANA B, directed by Dana Budisavljevic, the first woman to receive the Golden Arena for directing at the Pula Film Festival since 1957. This film has strongly shaken audiences across the region, while critics are giving it the best mark. It is the true story of the best people in the worst times. Diana Budisavljevic and her husband, a doctor, daughters and a newly born grandson live the life of a high-class civic from Zagreb. In the fall of 1941, she learned that Jewish women and Serb women were being taken to the detention camps where they were starving and sick. The Jewish municipality sends aid to the Jews, but no one cares about the Serbs. It initiates and leads an action that will save more than 10,000 children from the safe death in the Ustasha camps by the end of the war. Thanks to Diana’s diary, which was found by her granddaughter after her death, the heroic role of a woman convinced that her life was no more valuable than the life of the innocent persecuted.
The second day of the FAST FORWARD Festival starts at 16h30 with the opening of the photo exhibition “Behind the Seven Camps: From Crimes of Culture to Culture of Crime”, by Hrvoje Polan. The exhibition was created as part of the study that led to the photo monography, signed by Polan with writers and journalists Viktor Ivancic and Nemanja Stjepanovic, and published by the German foundation Forum ZfD. Podgorica audience will be able to see the unique setting that has hitherto been in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Sarajevo, Sibenik, Zagreb and The Hague. The exhibition will be opened by Natasa Govedarica, programme director of the ForumZfD office in Belgrade and Milos Vukanovic, historian and advisor at the CCE, on 11 December 2019 at 16h30, at the Studio Scene Hall within the Montenegrin National Theatre.
From the second day, 11 December, four films within the programme “Let’s fast forward gender equality” will be screened.
OUR MOTHERS, by Caesar Diaz, starts at 17h00. This year’s Belgian Oscar nominee deals with the aftermath of a long-running civil war in Guatemala that resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples. Ernesto is a young forensic anthropologist whose job is to identify the bodies of the dead. One day, in a witness story, he notices a clue that could lead him to the father of a guerrilla who disappeared in the war.
EDNA, by Vuk Mitevski, is on programme at 18h30. Edna is a short-animated film inspired by the refugee crisis in which Northern Macedonia has played an ungrateful role as a transition country. It is dedicated to women activists who fought for the basic human right – the right of men to exist.
NIGHT SESSION, by Peter Tomadze, will be screened at 18h45. This short film explores the ways in which domestic violence simultaneously shapes and leaves indifferent neighbours sharing a common yard.
GOLD, by Sagi Bornstein, Udi Nir and Shani Rozanes, is on 13 December at 17h00. It is an exciting story about the term of Israeli Prime Minister Golde Meir – from his ascending rise to power and his stunning international reputation as the ‘queen of the Jewish people’ to a tragic and lonely fall. Shortly before her death, Golda Meir was interviewed for Israeli television. At the end of the shoot, the cameras remained on, recording a close conversation with the first and only woman to ever rule Israel.
RBG, by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, the audience will have an opportunity to watch on Friday from 18h30. In her 86th year, a U.S. Supreme Court judge, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, left behind an extensive and valuable legal legacy and unexpectedly became an icon of pop culture. But that unique personal journey of her ascent to the highest court.
Afterwards, the short film DAILY RELEASE, by Martin Winter, is at 20h25 on Friday. Single mother Kathi gets a day’s release from prison and finds her 3-year-old son, who lives with her unstable mother, in a very bad situation. She is forced to provide him with a better future, but at the same time she struggles with time that is not working in her favour as she has to return to prison by six o’clock.
This programme ends on the last day of the FAST FORWARD Festival with the film ALIS AND THE MAYOR, by Nicolas Pariser, airing from 17h00. Lyon’s mayor, Paul Terano, is suffering from an existential crisis. After 30 years in politics, it feels completely empty and devoid of ideas. To overcome this, Paul hires a young and smart philosopher, Alice Ayman, for the extraordinary job of proposing ideas to city hall. Dialogue of two diametrically opposed personalities who question everything they believed up to then.
“LGBTI Rights Beyond 4 Walls – Equality for All” presents three films during the third day of the FAST FORWARD Festival, which have already raised series of issues even though their film life just started.
MILER AND SON, by Asher Jelinsky, is on the programme at 15h00. The transgender girl lives between running her family’s auto shop during the day and expressing her femininity at night until an unforeseen event threatens the balance of her parallel life.
GENDER DERBY, by Camille Ducellier, is from 15h30. This documentary confronts us with many gender stereotypes by concentrating on the journey of Jasmine, a transgender boy in gender transition who is infatuated with a roller derby. Roller derby is not just another sport. It is a team game created and played by women and characterized by promoting physical diversity and inclusivity.
AND THEN WE DANCED, by Levan Akin, concludes the second day with screening at 16h30. Merab trains offstage at the National Georgian Ensemble with her dance partner Maria. His world turns upside down when carefree Irakli appears and at the same time becomes his strongest rival and greatest source of lust. The film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, it is the Swedish Academy Award nominee and also has been nominated for several European film awards, whereas critics state that this film returns LGBT film to those films of political relevance with global influence. On the other hand, the film also generated threats by ultraconservative and pro-Russian groups on some screenings.
Also, on the fourth day of the FAST FORWARD Festival, at 20h15, short film DISTANCE BETWEEN US AND SKY, by Vasilis Kekatos, will be screened. It returned from Cannes with Palme d’Or for Best Short Film and Queer Palm Short Film. Night is on the road. Two strangers meet at an old gas station. One stopped to re fuel, the other got stuck in that spot. He misses 22.5 euros to get home so he will first try to sell the distance that separates them from the sky.
The Facing with the Past programme brings a variety of films with political base.
WHAT A COUNTRY!, by Vinko Bresan, is on the programme on Tuesday, 11 December from 19h00. The film consists of three stories whose structure and interconnections we discover throughout the film. The main characters are a general who feels a strong desire to commit suicide, disappointed in what Croatia has become, a minister in the Government of the Republic of Croatia who, without a court verdict, imprisons himself in a prison cell because he thinks he has a place there, as well as a group of parents of different nationalities (Croats, Serbs and Bosnians) who, by excavating dead presidents of the Republic of Croatia and the Republic of Serbia, want to force the governments of these countries to finally find their children who have been made in the war.
THE COLD CASE OF HAMMARSKJOLD, by Mads Brugger, is also on the second day from 21h30. In 1961, the plane of the United Nations Secretary, Doug Hammarskjöld, mysteriously crashed, killing him and most of the crew. Through a case that is still unsolved, some fifty years later, the Danish journalist, director and provocateur Mads Brügger takes us through a rabbit hole to discover the truth.
MEETING GORBACHOV, by Werner Herzog, is on repertoire on the fourth day at 21h15. Meet Gorbachev is a biographical documentary about the life of Mikhail Gorbachev, the eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union. The film also featured three interviews between Herzog and Gorbachev, which were collected over a six-month period.
The FAST FORWARD 2019 closes Patricia Guzman’s remarkable film THE CORDILLERA OF DREAMS, on Saturday from 20h00. Patricio Guzman left Chile more than 40 years ago, but never stopped thinking about that country and culture. “In Chile, where the sun was rising, it had to reach the hills, walls and peaks before shining the last rock of the Cordillera. In my country, Cordilleras are everywhere. However, for Chileans, it is unknown territory. Having been north for Nostalgia for the light and South for The Pearl Button, I now feel ready to shoot this immense spine to explore its mysteries, powerful revelations of Chile’s past and present history ”(Patricio Guzman).
The FAST FORWARD 2019 has its central programme in Podgorica from 10 to 14 December in the Montenegrin National Theatre. The accompanying editions are in Berane from 11 to 12 December 2019, in Centre for Culture of Berane and gymnasium “Panto Malisic” as well as in Kotor at the Cinema “Boka” and gymnasium “Kotor” from 13 to 14 December 2019.
The FAST FORWARD Festival 2019 is organized with the support of the Ministry of Culture, the German Forum of the ZfD, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights, followed by media support from RTCG, Vijesti, Radio Berane, Radio Kotor and CdM portal, in partnership with the Montenegrin National Theatre, municipalities of Kotor and Berane, BELDOCS, Sarajevo Film Festival, Montenegrin Cinematheque, gymnasiums “Panto Malisic” and “Kotor”, Berane Culture Center and International Human Rights Film Network. Corporate responsibility for supporting the FAST FORWARD 2019 was also demonstrayed by the Post of Montenegro, CentreVille, Metropolis, Studio Mouse, PG Taxi and Compania DeVinos Montenegro.
Full programme of the FAST FORWARD 2019 is available at the https://ubrzaj.me/en/.
Ana PULJIZ, FAST FORWARD Festival PR