In the last decade, there is an advent of extremely talented, daring, efficient young female directors in Eastern Europe. Especially in the Balkans where, almost as a rule, men mostly directed fiction features and women documentaries, animations and shorts. Lately, women directors from Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Bulgaria and Serbia a.o., represent their countries at the biggest film festivals, winning awards with their fiction features. These powerful women bring new topics to be discussed, or they look at the known from a different angle, and their films serve also as an inspiration to the empowerment of the female population in their societies. Very often, the main characters in their films are ordinary yet extraordinary women embedded masterly in a well-researched political and social environment in the director’s home countries.
In this edition, we have a strong female line-up in our special program Women’s Power – the feature debuts by two directors from Kosovo, Antoneta Kastrati and Lendita Zeqiraj. ZANA by Kastrati, whose documentary ‘Weddings And Diapers’ was screened previously at ENFF, tackles in a very refined manner her home country’s patriarchal attitude and prejudices as she unfolds the story of a woman who cannot get pregnant, and being unable to give birth makes a woman be seen as a failure.
AGA’S HOUSE by Zeqiraj deals with Kosovo after the war, the country of women whose husbands, brothers and fathers went missing or were killed during the war. Female solidarity is very present, yet each of them hides a secret. Earlier, ENFF has screened Zeqiraj’s short film ‘Balcony’ which made her well known at the European film scene.
The work of Ines Tanovic from Bosnia and Herzegovina is recognized internationally by her awarded strong documentaries. ENFF also screened her fiction feature debut ‘Our Everyday Story’. Her latest film THE SON, that opened last year’s Sarajevo FF, is a dramatic account on a Bosnian couple, whose adopted teenager son starts violently acting out.
MARE by Andrea Staka, the Swiss-Croatian director whose fiction feature ‘Das Fraulein’ we screened at ENFF, digs deep in the dissatisfaction of a married middle-class woman with a seemingly comfortable, “normal life” and features the brilliant performance of Croatian actress Marija Skaricic.
In the Serbian film AJVAR, the debut by Ana Maria Rossi, a woman has a strong voice too and a will of her own. It is a bitter-sweet drama of a married migrant couple that deals with mid-life crises and nostalgia, spiced with well-balanced Balkan humour and strong actors’ performances.