67th/68th March Festival Opens in Belgrade Youth Center
Assistant Mayor Andreja Mladenović opened the 67th and 68th joint editions of the March Festival – Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival last night at the Belgrade Youth Center. He posthumously awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award to composer Zoran Simjanović and presented it to his wife Ljiljana Erić-Simjanović.
Mladenović, who is the president of the Festival Board, expressed his honor and satisfaction with the opportunity to open this year’s March Festival and emphasized that the beginning of this traditional event is also a message that life is slowly returning to normal as much as possible at this moment.
– Behind us is a difficult year, a year full of fear, which we would like to forget. The pandemic took a lot of lives and in a way brought us back to basic values, which, unfortunately, due to the “fast” lifestyle, we forgot a bit. Today, celebrating the “Days of Belgrade”, we open the 67th and 68th editions of the March Festival. Although the name of the festival clearly speaks of the date of its holding, this year we will open it in April and I hope that this is the last such case. As this year’s slogan “Days of Belgrade” says – Culture wins, the opening of this year’s March festival shows that it is true – said Mladenović.
He pointed out that a really extensive and rich program was prepared this year. Mladenović reminded that last year everything was ready for the 67th edition of the festival, but after the introduction of the state of emergency, it was clear that there must be a delay.
– After that, we announced a festival for the fall, but even then it was impossible to organize such an event, so the decision was made to have a “double program” this year. Finally, the pandemic was in full swing in March this year, hopefully for the last time, so the festival was moved to April. I hope that by April 25, we will be able to realize everything that was planned and that we will see all 95 films in the competition program – 54 from the program of the 67th festival and 41 from the 68th edition. Many materials from the revival part of the program have been prepared, many workshops, and I hope that we will use all the potentials that this festival offers us every year. We appeal to all young filmmakers, those who are at the beginning of their careers, to be as present as possible and use the opportunity provided to them through the rich program of this year’s festival – Mladenović emphasized.
According to him, the realization of the double festival this year was made possible by the main sponsors, primarily the Ministry of Culture and Information, Film Center Serbia and the Secretariat for Culture of the City of Belgrade.
– Without a great friend of the festival – Lukoil, we would not be able to do everything we planned. We also owe gratitude to all the other sponsors who made this year’s edition of the festival possible. We also owe a great deal of gratitude for our work and commitment to the artistic director Dejan Dabić, as well as to all selectors. I hope that the organization of this event, after 12 difficult months, will open the door for other events with a long tradition in Belgrade – said Mladenović.
He added that this year’s festival is dedicated to the composer Zoran Simjanović, as he said, a wonderful man, a great creator and a great artist.
– He is the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award and we made that decision last year. The postponement of the festival, last year’s, as well as this year’s for one month, did not allow Zoran Simjanović to personally receive the recognition he was very happy about. The terrible virus tore him away from us and we can only say thank you to him for everything he has done for film art in Serbia, as well as for culture in our country in general. That loss is so great that we will become aware of it only in the coming years. His great work remains and I hope that all the students he took on the right film path will continue where he left off – said Mladenović.
The artistic director of the March Festival, Dejan Dabić, said that the festival is intended for true film lovers.
– Tonight I am both happy and sad. I am happy because after the break, we managed to organize a “double” edition of the festival, which resisted even in the most difficult years, so for example, it was held in 1999 in the atomic shelter of the Youth Center. I am very sad due to the fact that the man who loved the March Festival very much and to whom we awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award last year – Zoran Simjanović, is no longer with us – said Dabić.
The March festival will last until April 25 and will present to the public a rich film program in several national competition categories: documentary film up to and over 50 minutes, experimental film and video art, animated film and short feature film – a category for which there is an international selection. The complete last year’s competition selection will be shown, as well as the films selected in the competition program on the basis of the new competition. Also, festival awards will be given for both the 67th and 68th editions of the festival.
In addition to the competition, the March Festival will have a traditional and rich revue film program divided into World Panorama, Regional Panorama and Domestic Panorama selections. The audience will have the opportunity to see films that have won at major world festivals, domestic, regional and world premieres, works by important domestic and international authors, as well as selections of works from important European short film festivals in Clermont Ferrand, Drama and Berlin.