Interview with Star Film Fest film selectors

This year, Star Film Fest will feature films in the categories of documentary, experimental, feature, industrial and animated film. The questions about the film selection process for the programme were readily answered by this year’s selector Anja Kavić and Martina Mladenović.


Is there a category or genre that you consider most interesting to the audience and does it affect the selection of films or do you choose them solely on the basis of personal but also professional preferences?

Anja: I believe that a movie with a good theme, regardless of genre or category, finds the way to the audience. Certainly the most watched are feature films, but I think documentary films are slowly getting their place on a big screen. Social themes are something that is very close to us from the Balkan, so the films that deal with everyday problems of ordinary man are most viewed. Also, there is an increased interest in animated films which come to us in a large number year after year. I would like to single out the short animated films of one minute, which are particularly interesting. As for the selection of films, Martina and I choose them primarily based on professional references, but certainly personal as well. Of course, a film can be included in the programme if it’s dramatically brilliant although it has not been recorded with the best technique, but also vice versa. We’re doing a lot of analysis of the films and their production process.

Martina: Younger viewers are certainly interested in the animated films the most, while with an adult “children” there are no rules, at least in my opinion. This is the personal and professional preferences of every viewer. We all love feature films because they bring a story from the beginning to the end. By professional and personal preferences, I try to make a selection of good movies that convey some good message or story. The audience likes the documentaries because, besides the skilled staff, there is always additional value in them and learning about the subject being processed. Experimental and industrial films are somewhat more specific, not for everyone’s taste, and they also have great visuals! When creating the entire program, we try to provide all the genres to the public and incorporate them as well, because by doing so we develop the taste of the audience. Maybe someone who hasn’t been in touch with the industrial films might just think that it’s a great genre!



How would you describe the program’s dynamics? Are the films you choose different by theme or will this year’s Star Film Fest present to the public films that are similar to each other?

Anja: The films are both visually and thematically very different, and we are trying to choose the films from each genre every year. Of course, there can be a coincidence that films are thematically and visually similar, especially since we have many submissions from film schools and academies, so in that case we select a film or more of the films that are of the highest quality.

Martina: Since we really get films that come from all around the world, the themes are very diverse. I’ve been selecting films together with Anja Kavić for the last three years and I only noticed the trend of similar themes in some film schools and productions. Sometimes this is very charming, for example last year one Singapore film academy sent 30 movies of the same theme – all the movies had a theme of reading of poetry with nature shotsin background and lasted for up to 20 minutes. It looked and sounded wonderful, but as selectors we have to look at every movie and it creates a certain fatigue while watching, but we do it with will. However, this year we’ve come up with this (il)logic of sending because we included a rule of a maximum of 5 films of the same school on the same topic in the submission (often film academies give students the opportunity to film movies on the same subject, so this is the way for these academies to make selections of their student’s films before submitting the films).



For which target group do you prepare the program? Will the chairs in front of the Star Film Fest projection screen be filled with young or something more mature film-lovers?

Anja: The chairs in front of the Star Film Fest projection screen are waiting for audiences of all ages, it is important that they like to watch films, and I guarantee that everyone will find something for their taste.

Martina: The program is made for a diverse audience because we have one. Both young people and adults are coming to our festival which is the greatest value for the festival alone. We are not a thematic festival and therefore we are aiming to have as colorful a program as possible to attract the audience of all ages and tastes. Luckily, the movies submitted allow us to do so, and we think that we are well positioned and we defined genre categories that give directors of all profiles the opportunity to participate with their favorite themes, work style and aesthetics.



What according to you should a film have to make it listed on the festival programme and on what you particularly pay attention to during the selection?

Anja: The film that will be selected for the competition part of the Star Film Fest must have that secret ingredient that will make every eye viewer’s attention from the beginning to the end of the film. Simply put, we choose films that will in any way leave the impression on the audience and the jury.

Martina: Good story and well filmed material. Since I’m not coming from a professional film world (I’m not a director, a producer, an actress, etc.) unlike director Anja Kavić, so I’m rather drawn to a good story. But, since there are years working on various film festivals behind me (Motovun, Zagreb Film Festival, Libertas) and the fact that I really love and watch movies all my life, it gives me some assurance that nevertheless I can assess the quality of the film. In the first year of the selection, I did not pay attention to the criteria of the Festival, but I certainly had to watch each movie. It happened to me that film I liked the most was by author who by the age did not comply with the Terms and Conditions, and did not pass the selection. Today, I first go through the all criteria that need to be met, and then watch the film, which is pretty practical since every year the number of submissions has been growing, which affects the time it takes for the selection. Consequently, it means that for about two or three months of the year I do not see any other movie content (series, movies of commercial nature). I am already entirely dedicated to the selection for Star Film Fest. This year, more than 1,000 films have been submitted – the eyes are falling out, and the soul is happy!



Do you make more space for young, unconfirmed movie creators while selecting films or do you feel it is better to play safe?

Anja: As Star Film Fest is a platform for affirming young authors, all filmmakers up to the age of 35 get an equal opportunity to promote their film, regardless of whether they are amateurs or professionals.

Martina: Playing safely in the sense of older directors and therefore more experienced in the movie world does not mean much. There are directors who only offer a film that satisfies the selection criteria in mature years, and you also have young directors who are already filming at the very young age, and they make such a good content that we can put it the program with joy. As our festival is limited to the age of 35, we believe that they are still young people who can get their place in our program with their work and quality film regardless of age 15 or 35, but in any case we are delighted to include student films because these directors show the potential for their future work and such films are interesting to follow in the future. Today, Star Film Fest in Sisak, for a couple of years who knows where – Cannes, Sarajevo, Berlin… I wish them all the best and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to see their work.