I shudder when I think of the consequences of NATO bombing


Romina Zanon from Italy, Artistic Director of the River Film Festival in Padua, was one of the members of jury at the 32nd International Festival of Ethnological Film, together with Aleksandra Tatić, winner of the last year’s festival’s Grand Prix Award, and Jury President Davor Borić, director from Croatia.


We interviewed Romina Zanon about this year’s selection, the Festival of Ethnological Film and few other things for the official website of the Festival.


-Our short film festival in Padua will enter its 18th year with the selection we are preparing for 2024. We have eight categories of short films, starting with the selection of student films, through a selection of modern local documentaries, animated films, but also LBGT films, VR films and films on climate changes, as well as tourist films. More categories mean a bigger, broader, different selection, and as I have that training I did not find participation in the jury of the Belgrade Festival to be too difficult. But in spite of all differences, our festivals share the drive to present various human communities and their peculiarities and challenges, throughout Europe and beyond.


In your opinion, what distinguishes the Festival of Ethnological Film in Belgrade, where you were a member of the Jury?


- What impressed me the most at the 32nd International Festival of Ethnological Film in Belgrade was the effort to show the power of the participating films to document, to testify, that power of the film to record the past. The power of the film to “capture” intensively the cultural heritage of our countries. These are the moments that make your festival stand out. It emphasizes the potential of cinematography to zoom in to something, that strong documentary power.


We don’t intend to “poke our noses too much” into the Jury’s activities, but how does that process work? How do the jury members work with each other?


- In spite of the different paths taken in our professional life, we share a certain artistic consensus, similar views on the selection of films in front of us, a degree of agreement, but it does not mean that any decision is made lightly or without deep examination.


What expressions will you take from this place?

- This is my first visit to Serbia. I was in Hungary and Romania, but never here. As a photographer, I find this part of Europe to be fascinating. The ancient lore is deep inside of life of these people, that strong connection between the past and the present with the everyday life. At the very introduction I noticed an abundance of contradictions, for example Belgrade is a huge city with people from all around the World, a big city rich in burdens of history, but a few kilometers away, as soon as you move a bit away from the capital, you can see a completely different image – rural environment, the crop fields. For example in the village Popinci where our hosts took us for a trip. In Italy that change of landscape is not that drastic. That difference in urban and rural mentality is not that strong where I live. Here you can see two completely different ways of life, well pronounced, while in Italy I never felt such sharp distinction between the village and the city. I would like to explore these impressions a bit more, I toy with an idea that it would be a great experience to visit for two weeks or so, rent a car, make a tour of the villages and film it all. As I walked around the village I came upon an abandoned church, but also upon a group of villages riding an open trailer pulled by a tractor, that is something that does not exist in Italy, and for someone like me who works in ethnology it is fascinating.


What touched you the most?

- The other day I walked a dozen kilometers through Belgrade with my camera, and I came upon the ruins from the time of NATO bombing. It was my first encounter with the consequences of modern war. Although I had an opportunity to take footage of war damage from the Second World War, these scenes have me goosebumps and I still feel the chills.


Olivera Stojimirović