Get to know our selectors! We shared a talk with our selectors’ duoAnja Kavić and Martina Mladenović.

Anja is a graduate in Film and Television direction Cathedra at the Academy of Arts in Banja Luka and she holds a master’s degree in documentary film direction at the international master’s program “DokNomads”. She is currently working as a television director and an assistant to the director of the program. 

Martina is a graduate journalist and museologist. Through her work she deals with the education of young people through educational-creative workshops and lectures, public relations, culture and of course film culture through working at various film festivals.

Anja and Martina have been part of our stary team of Star Film Fest for five light-years. Find out what it is like to play the role of a selector at the film festival, how many films you need to watch in order to properly select them for the official program, which are the criteria taken into consideration in the process, and what exactly makes the winning film!

Martina Mladenović (left) & Anja Kavić (right)

What is the biggest number of movies watched in your selection process at any film festival? 

Anja: The most entries were received in the year 2019. The selection was at its peak. We received over 1000 films from all around the world. Numerous films were received last year as well. The last two years brought along a great deal of work. This year is certainly weaker in comparison, but we have expected it to be. Despite the lower number of entries we have still managed to attract great films. 

Martina: As this year understandably holds a record for the lowest number of entries, the year of 2019. holds a record for the largest amount of entries – over 1300 of them! It is a great joy because it reflects an interest among young directors in Star Film Fest but it also brings a large amount of time that is needed to watch the films and to close the selection. In those times, our eyes are often sore but our souls are thrilled because they get to do the thing that they enjoy – watch films! 

What is the selection process based on? What does it feel like to play the part of a film selector and what are your guiding principles in the process? What are the criteria that must be met? 

Anja: My criteria are various, from the technical predispositions of a film to my personal preference of the subject and production of the film. There are many parameters that I take into consideration. At the end of the process, I need to find the perfect balance. If a certain film has a flaw in its visuals, but it tells a brilliant story and the topic, and opposite, I then need more time to sum it all up and decide what makes the cut. 

Martina: The role of a selector is a terrific one because I literally get to create a competitive program. Therefore I thank the director of the Star Film Fest Matija Holjevac and the whole team for the trust that they are giving me each year. In a way, they selected me for the role of the selector. The gratitude is double on account of working with my colleague Anja Kavić. Our selector’s duo became a friendly one too, throught all these years of collaboration. The criteria on the other hand must be met. From the technical ones – how the film has been shot, what is the production quality, who and how tells us the story or content of the film, what is the scenography like, costumes as well, music… you need to dissect the film into its smallest parts, in reality. 

Is there a genre or category that you recognize as the audience’s fondest one? Do you prefer it as well and does it affect your selection?

Anja: I believe that the audience loves to see a good film, no matter the genre. There sure are some films that the audience would find more interesting than the others, but it is all an individual choice. Of course, in my mind comes a question of audience desires, just before the selection process. In consultations with Martina then comes a final decision. I believe this to be the factor that influences my decision, but It isn’t a crucial one. We tend to choose quality films for the taste of the audience and for the taste of the jury. 

Martina: Films that can be seen at the festival need to meet the criteria of genre because they bring together two separate worlds – the public world, the visitors that watch our program and which are the cause of the festival’s existence itself but also the professional world, the jury members and their watchful eyes that notice technical details, while the audience is more concentrated on the story and the genre. We think that it is a good thing to represent different genres in our program equally. The audience then gets a variety of topics and stories but on the condition that these films are technically and visually adequate. 

Do you subconsciously or even consciously prefer some genres and topics in the film? 

Anja: I think that I subconsciously do have preferable genres or topics, but taking the fact that I can watch anything into consideration, I believe that I appreciate the quality of the film more than the genre. 

Martina: Hm, I think that I subconsciously have preferences in the language of the film, not the genre. Sometimes, 90% of our submissions are Latino production and the films are then made in Portuguese, which is alongside Spanish, my favorite. The topics are being chosen consciously – especially if they develop and sensibilize the society and teach us about the beauty of differences or in the other case, raise awareness of certain issues and paint the picture of a world that isn’t always so nice or fair, but real. 

What does a winning film at this year’s edition need to have, in your opinion? Since you are awarding your own prize this year, the selectors’ award? 

Anja: The winning film should contain something that is of mine and of Matina’s liking, and I also believe that even we aren’t aware of what exactly it is. We two often find ourselves in the situation where we like the film instantly and sometimes we have opposite opinions. 

Martina: Besides all stated criteria, ranging from technical ones to visual ones, it is best to find the exquisitely made film that fits every box while bringing an interesting and clear  topic to the table. Preferably in Spanish language. The final decision of the winning film is brought together, and Anja and I often overlap in our opinions. When differences in our opinions occur, we then again talk about them so the decision is mutual, at the end. 

How would you describe the selection you have chosen for this year’s upcoming competitive program? What is expecting us on the movie screen? 

Anja:  I would describe this year’s selection in the same way as the previous ones, sweet and stary. There are some tears there and lots of laughter and love. I also hope to see the selection in person this year, under the starry sky of Sisak. 

Martina: Starry and magical – some film stars are smaller, some bigger, some shine a little brighter, some are maybe dimmed and mysterious, and some are maybe so perfectly aligned in a celestial composition so that you can observe them for hours! 38 different stars are awaiting us, and every single one of them sines in its own way. 

What is the meaning of Star Film Fest for young film authors? 

Anja: Like every other festival, Star Film Fest is an ideal platform for young authors. It is a great encouragement for the development of future film industry members.

Martina: Every young film author should see this as an opportunity to promote their work on screen. If he manages to visit Star Film Fest in Sisak, and every author who makes the selection gets an invitation, he definitely wins. A bunch of great, young production members and organizers, marvelous jury members whit whom they can connect and possibly collaborate in the future – all this awaits the authors in Sisak. Or they can simply expect to have some fun. 

Anja Kavić
Martina Mladenović
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