On the contrary of Cannes or Hollywood, Belgrade is not known as one of the big cinematographic centers. Nevertheless, the capital of Serbia welcomes two famous films festivals, FEST and Festival Slobodna Zona. A must-go for all cinema lovers in the Balkans.
Two festivals, two backgrounds
No doubt that both festivals, Slobodna Zona and FEST, are quality film festivals. Both programs have been loaded with movies that have won prizes on several competitions and are widely appreciated. However, festival Slobodna Zona narrows down its choice of movies much more than FEST by focusing only on human rights issues. Every year a different and even smaller subject is chosen to be reflected upon through movies. Last year, for example, the subject in focus was the belief in man and his ability to change, a huge message of hope for Balkans’ youth. Even though Slobodna Zona was first held in 2005, its commitment is rooted in the tough years of war in the 90’. On the other hand the FEST, originating from 1971 – the glorious days of the Yugoslavia- is much more glamorous, showing amongst others also American blockbusters. During the years of war the festival was struggling to survive but the end of the conflicts brought it to a new beginning.
The contrast of aims
The entertaining value of FEST and the serious issues covering program of Slobodna Zona is additionally reflected by their organizational differences. Slobodna Zona is held in the Belgrade cultural center and sponsored by cultural organizations. Contrarily FEST’s main sponsor is the state’s biggest gas company.
These two festivals offer to the Balkan audience entertainment alongside with a deep thinking on social and post-war difficulties. One has to be fast in order to get tickets as these festivals are a much needed and desired window to the outside.