Announced as the edition dedicated to the audience and filmmakers, the 70th Pula Film Festival could not have had a more beautiful and emotional opening – more than 5,500 people in the sold out Arena opened the Festival in complete harmony, filmmakers told personal anecdotes from the Festival and thought back to beautiful moments, and Hotel Pula, directed by Andrej Korovljev from Pula, had its premiere.
“You have responded in the best possible way – in such large numbers. Thank you for coming to celebrate this jubilee with us and for coming to support Andrej and the great crew of Hotel Pula. I would like to see each of this week’s evenings be just like this one and for everybody to celebrate the 70th edition of Pula Film Festival in such a wonderful way,” said artistic director Danijel Pek.
Tanja Miličić, director of Pula Film Festival Public Institution, thanked the audience and filmmakers for their great response and for sharing so many anecdotes from the Festival’s history. “I was touched the most by this one: ‘My daughter wanted me to buy her mascara. She was only five years old. I asked why she wanted it, and she said for a birthday party, New Year’s Eve or the Festival’. I think that sums it up best. Those are the three most important dates in the life of people in this Pula,” said Miličić.
Actress Nives Ivanković, this time acting as president of the jury, said it was a great honour and pleasure to celebrate the wonderful, finely aged lady Pula that is always magical and that will see 20 phenomenal films in competition for its birthday. “It is interesting to see the diversity in the competition programmes – documentary, animated, and fiction film, but incredible things happen and Pula Film Festival deserves them for its 70th birthday.
The envoy of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Minister of Culture Nina Obuljen Koržinek, also attended the opening ceremony and said that whoever watches a film at the Arena knows it is a special experience. “I am happy to see a sold out Arena for the opening of the 70th edition of Pula Film Festival. The people of Pula have shown how much the Festival means to them,” said Obuljen Koržinek.
Pula Mayor Filip Zoričić could not hide his satisfaction with the fact that a film from Pula was opening the Festival. “I like to say that it is Pula’s festival first, and then national, Mediterranean, European, and global festival of film. It is lovely to see so many young people here, as well as seeing the Festival finding its way to its former glory,” said Zoričić. Istria County Prefect Boris Miletić recalled his childhood and walking along Verudela hoping to see famous actors or actresses. “It was really something. And it still is today,” said Miletić.
The opening ceremony was directed by Patrik Lazić and hosted by Ida Prester. Istrian singer/songwriter Elis Lovrić sang the Croatian national anthem and the Istrian anthem, as well as the Festival anthem, Film Under the Stars, performed for the first time.
Announcing the Festival’s abundant film programme, the presenting couples of filmmakers took turns on the stage and recalled their early days at Pula Film Festival: producer Ankica Jurić Tilić and actor Goran Bogdan, director Goran Marković and actress Lana Barić, actress Eva Ras and director Rajko Grlić, actress Jadranka Đokić and former director of the Festival Gorka Ostojić Cvajner.
“It was 1974, and I was a debutant who brought his first film to the Arena. The sound check was the night before and the sound was great, as well as the picture. The screening started, and we had your fathers and mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers here. I was extremely nervous. The picture was great, but there was no sound. A minute passed, then two, three, four, five minutes and there was a buzz from the audience, I panicked and started running around to the projection box only to find the two master projectionists sitting there playing chess. Stunned, I shouted: ‘Sound! Give me sound!’ One of them turned around and said: “‘Oh, sorry!”’ and turned the volume knob. The Arena filled with sound, the whistling subsided, and I want back to the film rolling normally. After the screening, an older colleague asked me: ‘Did you take whisky up to the projection box?’ ‘No,’ I said. And he told me: “‘Well, remember to do that’. Twenty years after that, the director of Centar film told me this: ‘You have to have good sound, so you avoid what happened in Pula.’ I looked at him and said: ‘That wasn’t you, was it?’ ‘It was,’ he said. That’s how I learnt the lesson for 11 of my subsequent films at this Arena. I brought whisky up for each one,” said director Rajko Grlić and received a big applause. He continued to say that he hopes that the director of Hotel Pula Andrej Korovljev checked everything ahead of the screening of his feature debut for his hometown audience.
“When I was a kid, we all used to go together and jump the fence to sit up there on the grass. My friends all thought I was a bit weird because I soaked the films in and watched all of them, feeling them deeply. If someone had told me then that I was going to stand here on this stage, in front of such a big audience and present my debut film, I would had told them they were completely mad. I would like to greet the audience, cinephiles, my crew behind and in front of the camera, who have poured their heart and soul into this film. I would
The opening ceremony finished with a playful laser show on the walls of the Pula amphitheatre and heralded an exciting film week of more than 80 films, hundreds of filmmakers, and a number of side programmes, as well as the indispensable concerts at the Home of Croatian Veterans.