The Magnificent Seven at the Griffoni Experience in Italy

July 17th until July 26th Italian city Griffoni is the host of the Griffoni Experience – one of the leading international film festivals for children and youth which became the leader in the events of this type around the work in the past 45 years and by spreading and creating a strong brand name created Griffoni Hollywood, Griffoni Macedonia, Griffoni Australia, Griffoni Brazil… The focal point of all the festivals held under the Griffoni Experience name is that the program is consisting of films for youth and children (so, movies made by professionals from the movie industry) which are being judged by children and youth. This practice attracts over 3500 children from across the globe to Griffoni in Italy each summer.

Last year was the first time that Croatia had representatives at Griffoni festival. Three children and mentors from Foto Kino Video Club Zaprešić and Kinoclub Karlovac won the trip as the award of accomplishments at the Croatian Children’s Film Festival and Youth Film Festival – national events promoting elementary and high school films, organized by Croatian Film Association. In one of the last year’s update from Griffoni, their mentor said: After really hard and excellent movie Croatian representatives were shining – Miran was commenting homosexual rights and Referendum about marriage while Rebeka professionally analyzed the way of filming and effect used in the film. I am the proudest mentor!

One of the rules of Griffoni is that the members of the judging panels are never the same (so that the biggest number of children could get a chance), except if they did an exceptional work last year. With that in mind, in the middle of April, Rebeka Čuljak and Miran Ratković (before mentioned last year’s participants) got the following letters: You have been selected as a SPECIAL MEMBER OF THE JURY for the new edition of Griffoni Experience which will be held July 17th – 26th 2015. This year your role is extremely important: keep the bar, which you raised last year, really high or even higher. Your attendance and opinion is really important to us and we want you with us this year so you could serve as an example and a leader to new young jurors. Success like this is just an additional confirmation that the Croatian Film Association picks some of the best representatives of young filmmakers to represent Croatia and Croatian children and youth films in the world, and that those same young filmmakers are being successfully educated and prepared for their careers, not necessarily in film industry, in clubs across the country.

Next to Rebeka and Miran, this year as regular members of the jury at the Griffoni will be Antonio Pleša and Marian Babić from Dugo Selo and Rin Ostrošić from Slatina – all of which are the winners on the before mentioned Children and Youth Film Festivals. Their mentor is Ana Đorić, professor of Croatian and media pedagogy, long term associate of Croatian Film Association. Marija Ratković Vidaković, coordinator of both of the previously mentioned Festivals also participated at Griffoni with the invitation by the festival director, Claudio Gubitosi.

A year ago Croatian Film Association introduced a praised new feature to both festivals – for children and for youth: winners of the Festivals as a reward for their work get to go to children and youth festivals around the world to participate either as members of children jury or to participate in different workshops. Children from Rudeš, Marija Jurić Zagorka and Većeslav Holjevac Elementary Schools from Zagreb, Katarina Zrinski Elementary from Mečenčani and Blank organization from Zagreb, Strahoninec Elementary from Strahoninec, Foto Kino Video Club from Zaprešić, Kreative Studio from Gunja, Kinoclub Karlovac from Karlovac and Creative Film Studio Vanima from Varaždin already participated in festivals and workshops in USA, Italy, Macedonia, Greece, Spain and Turkey. Croatian Film Association decided that this kind of an award is more valuable than money or equipment which is easily acquired these days. Is there anything better than creating in international surroundings and communication with your European friends? Film and media studies in general which aim to work in teams are the ideal surrounding for overcoming all cultural obstacles on one side and implementing direct and indirect knowledge and experiences on the other side.

Inclusion of participants of Croatian Children’s and Youth Film Festival and Four River Festival in events of this sort gives an extra value to Film festivals as well and puts Croatia on the world map of children and youth film festivals.

Children are always being followed by one or two responsible adults, chaperons or mentors. Croatian Film Association suggests mentors from different organizations so they could have a chance to see and compare children filmmaking from around the Europe. This is an ideal chance for communication and exchange of experiences and creating new partnerships with colleagues, media experts from other European countries.

It is unnecessary to say that Croatian delegation is already well known and attractive and not just when it comes to children jurors (which are eager to comment each film, participating in Q&A sessions and were selected the day before yesterday to spend time with Tom Felton – British actor best known for his role in the Happy Potter series which is an honor reserved for only few of the delegations), but also for presenting Croatian children and youth film in the world. In the past days first steps have been made in collaboration with Griffoni Georgia, Griffoni Albania, British Film Institute, children and youth festivals in Brazi, Tunis and India. There is nothing left to say except that Croatia became the top destination for youth filmmakers.