Wongar wins the Belgrade Documentary and Short Film Festival
by Vladan Petkovic
- Andrijana Stojković's film has been crowned Best Feature Documentary, and The Other Side of Everything has picked up Best Editing and Sound Design
Belgrade's Documentary and Short Film Festival has undergone numerous changes in its 65 years of existence, especially in the last five years, when it went through three different teams and concepts, introducing or removing various categories of awards and changing its international scope.
In its current iteration, set up last year by festival director Marko Popović and Boban Jevtić as special consultant, with its international competition limited to short films, the event is officially called the March Film Festival and this year took place from 28 March-2 April. Decades ago, this was its colloquial name, used to differentiate it from Serbia's biggest film festival, the Belgrade FEST. The two gatherings share their main source of funding, the Culture Secretariat of the City of Belgrade and, for the last couple of years, the complicated umbrella organisation CEBEF, tasked with taking care of the Serbian capital's festivals, including dance, music and theatre events.
The national documentary competition is now split into two categories: up to and over 50 minutes’ running time. The winner of the latter was Wongar by Andrijana Stojković, which world-premiered at the festival. The jury, consisting of producer Lejla Dedić, director Ognjen Glavnonić and editor Vanja Kovačević, gave it the main Best Documentary Award, ahead of The Other Side of Everything [+see also:
film profile], in an arguably correct decision to highlight a less prominent title, while Mila Turajlić's IDFA winner received Best Editing for Aleksandra Milovanović and Best Sound Design for Aleksandar Protić.
Wongar is a minimalistic portrait of a Serbian immigrant in Australia, Sreten Božić (aka B Wongar), the first author to publish stories of the mistreatment of the Aboriginal population through the government's uranium mining and nuclear tests. In 1977, his collection of stories The Track to Balgu was published in the French magazine Les Temps Modernes, but was supressed in Australia until 1991, when he finally found a publisher. Wongar had an Aboriginal wife and two children who were never allowed to live with him in Melbourne and disappeared in 1974 in the cyclone that devastated Northern Australia.
Stojković films Wongar's everyday life, which mostly consists of caring for his dingo dogs and finishing a new novel, and she alternates this footage with impressive excerpts from an Aboriginal stage play, and Wongar's own writing, delivered via a voice-over.
Other awards at the festival included a Special Achievement in Directing and Best Experimental Film, which went to Marko Grba Singh's short Stars of Gaomeigu, and Best Animated Film, which was bestowed upon Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak's Berlinale title Untravel.
Here is the full list of award winners:
Best Documentary over 50 Minutes
Wongar - Andrijana Stojković (Serbia)
Best Documentary up to 50 Minutes
The Same - Dejan Petrović (Serbia)
Best Short Film – Serbian Competition
The Wine - Ivan Djurović
Best Short Film - International Competition
Would You Look at Her - Goran Stolevski (Macedonia)
Best Animated Film
Untravel - Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak (Serbia)
Best Experimental Film or Video Art
Stars of Gaomeigu - Marko Grba Singh (Serbia/China)
Aleksandra Milovanović - The Other Side of Everything
Igor Marović - The Wine
Special Achievement in Film Directing
Marko Grba Singh - Stars of Gaomeigu
Living Pictures Post-Production Award
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