Last week I wrote about a punk rock festival in Tolmin, Slovenia, this week, I report from another festival in Slovenia, the Kino Otok Izola Cinema – the International Film Festival of Izola.
Izola, which means island, is a beautiful city on the Adriatic Sea, an old town in Venetian style, populated by fishermen and artists, surrounded by hills and invaded by tourists during summer time. The Film Festival in Izola started in 2004 and it takes place almost every year since then. The main point of the festival is to connect different authors and countries and engaging every year more and more associations and initiatives in order to present quality films, developing the film culture in the region and also to present films with an educational intent.
This year it was the 11th edition and I participated as an EVS volunteer. The festival took place between the 3rd and 7th of June around different spots in the city. The most suggestive and appreciate place of projections was Manzioli Square in which an open-air cinema was built up for the entire duration of the festival and in which were projected the most high-rated movies presented by his/her author or a “godfather”, usually an expert of cinema who introduced the movie according to his/her own opinion. The other principal venue was the Art Kino Odeon, an art cinema in which the film projections were followed by a talk with the director.
The main programme is usually accompanied by a section called “Video on the Beach” and, as the name suggests, it takes place every year near the beach. This section is entirely devoted to shorts, whatever they are experimental, documentary or animated. The last venue of the festival is devoted to children, with special projections and workshops for the young ones, in the House of Culture.
This year programme, selected by Lorena Pavlič, director, Varja Močnik, programme selector and Tanja Hladnik, programme coordinator, brought to Izola movies from Chile, France, Italy, Russia, Arabic Emirates and many other countries giving not only an international atmosphere to the festival but also different points of view and bringing different cultures to the attention of the audience. Among the many movies projected I absolutely suggest to watch Theeb by Naji Abu Nowar, the story of a young Bedouin and his journey through the desert during the war; Chrieg, a Swiss film by Simon Jaquetmet, on a reform camp for youngsters; Živan Makes a Punk Festival, by Ognjen Glavonić, the true story of Živan Pujić who wanted to organize a punk festival in the little Serbian town of Tomaševac; Pearl Button by Patricio Guzmán winner at the Berlinale 2015, on the history of Chile described through water.
The short movies were hundreds, so it is very difficult to choose but if I had the opportunity to watch some of them again, I would choose The Silence of the Seagulls (Slovenia), Stolen Names (Slovenia), Other Than Our Sea (Italy), My Sister and I Are Alone (Iran), Re-Cycling Project (Italy) and Bread of Life (Portugal).
Apart from the high quality films, what really impresses of Izola is the atmosphere that the festival creates. All the population waits for the Festival, it attracts many young volunteers to be part of this event. Moreover, near the lighthouse, the organization built up a beautiful spot to chill, talk and listen to music sets every night after the projections. That was an absolutely lovely way to conclude the evenings.
What really makes the Kino Otok Izola Cinema –International Film Festival special is its simplicity, the way everyone feels to be part of a big movie family, the connections it creates and the satisfaction it leaves which let you say, oh, I will come back next year!