Seize this Day with Me! 07 - 2009

Uhvati sa mnom ovaj dan 07 - 2009.The seventh annual Seize this Day with Me! International Film Festival, dedicated to the lives, activities, and achievements of people with disabilities, was held from October 7-18th 2009, in Novi Sad.  ONO – Youth Non-Governmental Organization and Organization CAO “Parnas” from Novi Sad organized the Festival in cooperation with: The Italian Cooperation for Development in Serbia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy, the Goethe Institute – Belgrade, the Cultural Center of Novi Sad, the Regional Muscular Dystrophy Association of Southern Backa county, and the Students’ Cultural Center of Novi Sad. Technical support was provided by students from “April 7th” Medical High School in Novi Sad who volunteered their time, the “Daniel Print” printing company, and the Sports/Business Center of Vojvodina (SPENS).

Members of the “Vukovar Sparks” Association from Vukovar (Croatia) were special guests of the Festival. After the screening of their films, they gave a musical stage performance.

Through this project, we wanted to create a general picture of how to become (and remain) more tolerant of one another. Through film screenings, discussions at forums, and by socializing afterwards, we realized that we had facilitated a shift in understanding within the people around us. Over 1000 people had watched the films presented in the main program (4 were rescreened and 21 competed in the main program). 5 forums/discussions with filmmakers and actors, 6 educational journalists, 11 attendees of a three-day workshop of “Basic film language” (five of whom were people with disabilities), an exhibition of photographs titled “Incredible Stories of Invisible Lives” a large number of volunteers, interesting suggestions and positive comments in the guest book, an excellent media following, the inclusion of new donors in the project coupled with the support of previous ones, all together show that this Festival continues to grow in quality and significance of our area.

The Festival was supported by: the Telenor Foundation, the Provincial Secretariat of Culture of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, the Department of Culture – the City of Novi Sad and Erste Bank.

I had the great satisfaction of sharing not only one, but several wonderful days with the films’ protagonists, creators, and audience. I believe that encouraging and creating films dedicated to people with disabilities is both very important and unusually useful. My impressions suggest that taking part in filmmaking and this festival strengthens the idea that a society is as strong and democratic as the first among the weak is strong. I am certain this festival is useful to fragile beings desirous of approval and company. – Mrs. Jelena Stamenković, jury member.

Film program

This year Film festival lasted ten days with several portions:

INFORMATIVE/REVIEW PORTION
October 10-13

In conjunction with Italian Developmental Cooperation, two films were screen:
Un Silenzio Particolare (75'), director: Stefano Rulli, 2004
Ivo il tardivo (107’), director: Alessandro Benvenuti, 1995.

In conjunction with Goethe Institute, two films were screen:
Kroko (92‘), director: Zilke Enders, 2003
Mondscheinkinder (87‘), director: Manuela Stake, 2006

OPENING CEREMONY
October 12

Guests were:
-Mrs. Ana Zambrano, director of Italian Developmental Cooperation
-Mrs. Ivana Dujmović, coordinator of exhibition
-Mr. Zvonimir Kaprocki, director of SPENS
-Mrs. Sonja Konakov, Erste bank
-Mrs. Ljiljana Žižić, director of Film festival

After a brief introduction, the seventh annual Film festival was officially opened and a film was shown, which was followed by an exhibition of photographs by the Rome Office of Italian Developmental Cooperation in Belgrade, under the same name of "Unbelievable Stories of Invisible Lives." At the end of the film screening, there was a festive cocktail and mingling with guests and media representatives.

MAIN PROGRAM
The main program was held from October 14-18. The films which were screened had arrived in response to the call for films which was announced in February of this year. After each day of film screening, the audience had the opportunity to attend panel discussions featuring filmmakers, directors, actors, jury members, representatives of organizations that bring together people with disabilities, people from the world of film, etc…On the last day of the festival, prizes were awarded to the best films of the year.

 

Film program:

October 14th
SORRY, BECAUSE I WAS LATE – Ljiljana Dugalić, Belgrade
AN EPITAPH FOR DREAMS – Filip Čolović, Beograd
LOOK TO THE SIDE - Filip Čolović, Beograd

October 15th
IN THE LAND OF THE LITTLE PRINCE – Blagoje Lupa, Beograd
LIVES, ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENT OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES – Tamara Milenković, Obrenovac
LEARN ON THE SPOT – Tamara Paroški, Novi Sad

October 16th
Films screening – Denis Pilepić, Rijeka/Croatia
HIDDEN CORNER 2008
LOOK BEHIND THE CLOSED WINDOW
G4EVER
HIDDEN CORNER – BRANKA
VIDEO GAME

Films screening – Zoran Cikovac, Vukovar/Croatia
MUSIC WORKSHOP
LAUGHTER AS A TREAT
SNOW WHITE AND CINDERELLA

October 17th
THERE WAS NOTHING BEFORE… – Mirko Pot, Novi Sad
HAPPY END – Aleksandra Berec/ Akoš Žolnai/ Ištvan Lejkauf, Senta
STAY AND SURVIVE – Group of authors, Topola
FROM THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE – Silvija Pašajlić, Čačak

October 18th
MEDIA TIM – Vojislav Prkosovački, Bečej
BOŠKO BUHA SCHOOL, 45 YEARS OF WORK – Beograd
ABOUT A RAINY DAY – Nikola Radin, Beč/Austrija

Award-winning films

1.) Look to the Side, Filip Čolović, Belgrade – award for best cinematic achievement
Jury Comment: Extraordinary photography and good editing.  An unbalanced personal plan and social/political plan. Unlike photographs, careful lighting, the music remains in the domain of "nice" covers/curtains. The alienation of the individual who comes from a natural urban environment based on social-realist architecture - in which everyone should be equal, healthy and moving in a straight line, and alienation that comes from disappointment in society – topics which are discussed only reluctantly.
The film impressively, quietly, simply and warmly tells about a group of young people who, thanks to the enthusiasm of their parents and the help the state spent the day at the "Our House" daily center in Zvezdara. With confidence in Philip Čolović, their soldier on civilian duty, young people openly and freely talk about themselves, love, beauty, courage and justice. One of the young people - Spas Spasov, announced that the Center has helped him to overcome loneliness and alienation. While watching the film, people with disabilities become closer to us, do not turn our eyes away.  This film, in a clever yet at the same time serious way, presents a group of young people who find a way to function in today's world full of prejudices and barriers.

2. In the Land of the Little Prince, Blagoje Lupa, Belgrade – award for best scenario
Jury Comment: The film has several levels concerning: the process of working with participants in the story, The Little Prince, the demystification of the process, the creative potential of the participants in the process,  and of technology to create animated films.  The value of the film is in the incorporation of all these levels in an artistic-documentary manner.
Blagoje Lupa skillfully connects Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's famous story "The Little Prince" with the actual events in the lives of people with Down syndrome, using his knowledge and experience in the field of animated film, and their creativity and imagination. The film is a multi-layered and expressive, symbolizing friendship and love. It reminds us that all the young adults were once younger, and only a few remain forever young at heart.  This is an extraordinary story, full of emotion and rhythm that attracts us and draws us into their lives. "One sees clearly only with the heart.  Anything essential is invisible to the eyes” - say the actors, citing the Little Prince.

3. Happy End, a group of filmmakers, Senta – award for the best example of inclusion
Jury Comment: The film addresses the fact that anyone can become a person with a disability (that is to be found in a state of disability), and then require a sensitive environment for new / different situations which  will open the way for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in social activities. The value of this film is that it was made by a group of young people, in a context where film production is not sufficiently supported, and in which the study of filmmaking is not an adequate part of the educational system.
A group of talented students from Senta uses simple and unobtrusive cinematic language. The film contributes to the development of awareness about the value of the individual - not their assimilation, but the acceptance of diversity. Throughout the film runs the thought Miroslav Antić: "We are all in the same way different".

4. From the Brighter Side of Life - Silvija Pašajlić, Čačak – award for most stimulating film
Jury Comment: The film highlights the importance of family support to the development of people with disabilities. Through a fluid sequence showing family members and the main character discussing problems and ways of solving them (whether they relate to everyday activities or school aspects of the main character's life), the film paints optimistic picture of life. Its message to us that it is possible to realize the wishes and ambitions with willpower and support of loved ones.

5. About a Rainy Day, Nikola Radin, Austria – award for the most emotional film
Jury Comment: The film weaves reality and the metaphysical, and builds upon it with elements of meta-emotionalism which urges viewers to reflect on the importance of every individual in a universal constellation - each is important for everyone "under the stars." The atmosphere that a poet/ward of the Home in Veternik brings deconstructs common stereotypes about people who are consigned to this or similar homes. On one hand, we are introduced to residents of the Home, and their specific characteristics, and daily activities.  On the other, we get a glimpse of the emotions on both sides which arise from many years of living and working with the manager of the Home, Mrs. Mira Radin - who has built a deeper emotional connection with residents by devoting herself to working with them.
A work that openly shows genuine love. The children in the Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities in Veternik love life, people, animals and their offspring. In the film, raindrops fall in the rhythm of the excited heartbeat of children who go to visit the former director, whose family home was often theirs as well. The film is filled with emotions, accompanied by powerful music, and thought-provoking moments which from time to time, brought us to tears ... The film is also a tribute to a woman (the manager of the Home) and its powerful, moving and human struggle for the children who reside there.

AWARD-WINNING FILMMAKERS

1.Filip Čolović, Belgrade, Serbia – award for a contribution to a film dedicated to people with disabilities
In the films An Epitaph for Dreams and Look to the Side, filmmaker Filip Čolović takes powerful steps into the world of disability, showing that we are all different in the same way, that every being is a champion, who only a true master can access.  The award for contribution to a film dedicated to people with disabilities a good and capable young man with a gentle soul.  Those who fulfilled their military obligation through civil service, thus making it possible for Filip to dive into that special world (and take us there with him) also deserve a similar award.

2.Denis Pilepić, Rijeka, Croatia – award for achievement in film
Denis submitted 15 films on the topic of the rights and lives of people with disabilities, five of which were shown during the festival.

3.Tamara Milenković, Obrenovac –  award to the festival's youngest participant for the first steps in filmmaking.
The award serves as a welcome to a group of young people, who despite their lack of skill, bravely tried to capture the world around them, and the people with disabilities in it.

Additional program

PHOTO EXHIBITION
This year’s film festival was officially opened with a travelling exhibit of photographs by Mario Boče titled: “Unbelievable Stories of Invisible Lives”, which was organized by the Office of Italian Developmental Cooperation in Rome and Belgrade (the head office for Development Cooperation of the Italian Department of State). The concept for the exhibit was inspired by the “initiative week” observed in March in Belgrade, which was dedicated to disability and social inclusion. This beautiful exhibit attracted a great deal of public attention because it tells the stories of the unnoticed and invisible lives of people with disabilities in a remarkable way – through faces, some moments in the lives of, and thoughts of children with disabilities who now no longer live in residential centers or institutions. The exhibit was followed by a documentary film which is the result of cooperation between Emanuele Cicconi from the Experimental Cinematography Center in Rome, and Jelena Rosić, from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. The program came to be as a result of a “Week of initiatives for sensitivity in society on the topic of disability” and concerns speeding up the process of social inclusion of people with disabilities in Serbia, and strengthening the network of activists in that field. During this “Week of initiatives” plans for a future project: “Supporting the deinstitutionalization of children, especially those in the Republic of Serbia: strengthening the continuum of services at the national and local levels” are announced.  The project will be financed by the Italian government. The program: “Unbelievable Stories of Invisible Lives” was organized by the Office of Italian Cooperation in Rome and Belgrade (www.cooperazione-italiana.org.rs).

SEMINAR FOR JOURNALISTS
The first events of the seventh film festival were a press conference and information session for journalists at the media center of SPENS in Novi Sad. The goals of the seminar were to inform journalists of the proper approach when addressing the topic of the lives of people with disabilities, using politically correct speech, and conducting sufficient preparation to carry out an interview with a person who has a disability.  The information session was conducted by Čedomir Cicović and Ljiljana Žižić, and was attended by: four journalists from TV Panonija, one person from the public relations department at SPENS, one person from the public relations department at the Cultural Center of Novi Sad, the editor of the Film Department at the Cultural Center of Novi Sad, and three students from the April 7th Medical High School in Novi Sad.   

FILM WORKSHOPS
Film workshops have become an integral part of the festival. This year, they were held from October 16-18. The topic of the workshops was “The Basics of Film Language through Theory and Practice”. The workshop took place at the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Southern Backa, and was led by Dejan Petrović, an assistant professor at the “Sava Mrmak” Film Academy in Belgrade. Eleven people (five of whom had disabilities) attended the workshop. Attendees were presented with basic information about film language, scene composition, the history of film, film terminology, i.e. film time, plans, scene, film space, book or recordings etc…The workshop was divided into two parts: theoretical and practical. Attendees could put their newly acquired knowledge to use through exercises with a camera, which they during the afternoon hours in small groups.

ROUNDTABLES
Roundtables with filmmakers and actors were held each day during the main program portion of the festival. Guests were: Ljiljana Dugalic - Belgrade, Zoran Cvetkovic – Novi Sad, Filip Colovic – Belgrade, Blagoje Lupa – Belgrade, Tamara Paroski – Novi Sad, Zoran Cikovac and members of the “Vukovar Sparks” Association from Vukovar – Croatia, Mirko Pot – Novi Sad, members of Association “The hug” - Topola, Vojislav Prkosovacki – Becej, Mira Radin – Novi Sad, teachers from Bosko Buha school – Belgrade.

Moderators of panel discussions were: Jelena Stamenkovic, Ivana Indjin and Ljiljana Zizic.

A sign language interpreter (Ivana Marković) was present at all panel discussions.

Post-production

Every year, the post-production phase follows the review and main program portions of the festival. The post-production phase takes the form of a FILM CARAVAN. This year, we had the opportunity to screen films at the following locations:
- American Corner: Novi Sad – (during the English Conversation Club) on December 2nd and December 9th, the best films from this year’s festival were shown. After the screening, a discussion took place about the rights and position of people with disabilities in society, and the importance of using the proper terminology. During the discussion, the greatest emphasis was placed on what can be done to fix the situation involving people with disabilities, how we relate to them, and how we should. Participants had the impression that such films and discussions lessen social distance, and the notion that we are divided into categories such as “us” and “them,” because most importantly, we all have the same needs.  Jelena Popović and Ljiljana Žižić moderated the discussion with the assistance of the staff of the American Corner.
- The Cultural Center of  Bačka Palanka – in observance of the International Day of People with Disabilities on December 4th, four films are shown. After the screening, Ljiljana Žižić moderated a discussion to which Mirjana Radaković (a social worker) made an especially significant contribution.
- 200 flyers with information about how to talk to a person with a disability are left in the library of Mihajlo Pupin Electrotechnical High School. Per an agreement with the librarian, every student who comes into the library (because of a book, or otherwise) will be given a flyer. The school also expresses an interest in screening the films of the Seize this Day with Me! Film Festival during the next semester (and in having discussions afterwards)during the time normally set aside on Monday evenings for film screenings.
- Jovan Vukanović Technical High School, Novi Sad – On Wednesday, December 9th, during two civics classes at two departments (upholstery and graphic design) flyers were handed out to students, and an informative discussion on the topic of the lives, position in society, and activities of people with disabilities, and how to approach them, took place. The topic was well-received by the students, who took the opportunity to discuss their personal experiences involving people with disabilities. Korana Tanasić (school pedagogist) collaborated on the project, and the discussion was moderated by Branislav Trudić. 
- Radio Café, Novi Sad – on the evening of December 9th, the award-winning films from this year’s festival were shown at Radio Café in Novi Sad. After the screenings, Milesa Milinković, Milica Paskulov, Ljiljana Žižić and Nebojša Vujković Cvijin led a discussion with the guests of the café.  
- The best films of the 7th Seize this Day with Me! Film Festival were shown at the Euro IN Festival of European and Documentary Film.  Participation in this festival is very significant for the filmmakers of the award-winning films and for the Seize this Day with Me! Film Festival itself.
- On Thursday, December 10th at Jovan Jovanović Zmaj High School in Novi Sad, during mixed choir auditions, educational flyers were distributed among the students, and discussions took place on the topic of the position of people with disabilities in society, and how to approach them.  Jasmina Nešković, choral conductor and professor of music, collaborated on the project, and gave up a portion of the audition time. The discussion took place before 75 students, members of the choir. The students were enthusiastic, curious, and full of questions, which Branislav Trudić, a youth worker, tried to answer concisely and to the best of his ability. 
- In observance of Human Rights Day (December 10th), film screenings took place for students of two Novi Sad high schools: the “April 7th” Medical High School, and the Svetozar Marković High School of Economics. After the screenings, which took place during civics classes in four departments, Ljiljana Žižić moderated over a discussion with the students.