First Cherry Pop Film Festival Recap 2022

The Cherry Pop Film Festival, a new festival dedicated to exploring sexuality in all its forms and manifestations, took place 2-4 June at the space of creation Urania in Zagreb, Croatia, as well as online, giving an opportunity to a worldwide audience to experience films exploring sexuality and gender identity, as well as their interrelation with social norms, the digital world and violence.

Atmosphere from First Cherry Pop Film Festival
BAFTA winner Bob Bently during Q&A session following his film.

The best film in the International Program was selected by a jury consisting of Lana Barić, Sonja Tarokić and Boris Bakal. The Sweet Cherry for Best Film was awarded to Tobias Rud for the animated film “I’ll Be Your Kettle.”

Jury statement: “An excellent animated film which shows in a fun, cruel and innovative way the lows to which we are willing to lower ourself in an effort to mold ourself to fit what another wants us to be, to fit prejudices and expectations. The film is also a cathartic hymn to freedom which everyone can draw on to reflect on themselves and their own need for fulfilling roles imposed on them. With a humorous approach to this still very current and relevant topic, the director shows us how funny we are in our sadness, but also that it is precisely that sadness that can serve as a trigger that leads us to becoming aware of our values and the strength that we have to walk away from those that do not see or appreciate us.”

I'll Be Your Kettle is short animated film by Tobias Rud and it's a winner of First Cherry Pop Film Festival
Tobias Rud, author of winning short film I'll Be Your Kettle thanks jury and audience via video call

Special mentions were awarded to Rock Brenner for “Some Kind of Humanity,” Naïla Guiguet for “Dustin,” and Jérémy van der Haegen for “Stories Keep Me Awake at Night.

Jury statement on “Some Kind of Humanity“:

“Every search is a legitimate one, especially if it ends in another question mark. At a time when the plurality of knowledge about the historical human experience leads to a strong feeling of being lost, this film confronts us in a humorous way with the peculiar choices of people who know what they want and who go to extremes in search of pleasure. Although these choices are at first hard to understand, the author’s perspective leads the viewer to ask that key question of all questions – who am I and to whom do I belong? This is a film one thinks about with a certain apprehension long after the first viewing, always concluding that it in fact served as a form of existential medicine.”

Jury giving a statement about winners from international competition on Cherry Pop Film Festival

Jury statement on “Dustin:”

“This film about a nightclub outing of a spontaneous trans party girl leaves on the viewer a strong impression of an intimate and authentic experience. It is a film which reminds us how many shades of gray a story of a broken heart can have, especially in a world of subculture and subversion where the idea of “acceptance” itself is sometimes too easily taken for granted. The audience is slowly captured by the magnetic charm of the protagonist whose awakening at the “afterparty” leads in stages to a psychological clarity and a gentle realization that the search for the real self will often bring loss.“

Jury statement on “Stories Keep Me Awake at Night“:

Although it leaves the audience with more questions than answers, this story with its gentle tone nevertheless draws us into the emotional dilemmas faced by a family of a (possibly) transgender child. By means of strong visual signals, the film aims to conjure up that indescribable feeling of a “childhood wound,” which we spend our adult lives fruitlessly trying to close by rational analysis. A stylistically consistent, tranquil and underplayed atmosphere of an isolated rural household becomes a place of nocturnal transformation, posing the question of whether mythic stories of metamorphosis are only regarded as scary stories for reasons of social convention and whether they may not in truth be seen as subjective, psychological and liberating.”

Jérémy van der Haegen won special mention for "Stories Keep Me Awake at Night."

The best film in the Student Program was selected by a jury consisting of Dalija Dozet, Dina Pokrajac and Tajana Bakota. The Sour Cherry for Best Student Film was awarded to Isidora Vulić for the animated film “Orange Peel.”

Jury statement: “Once a cherished experience passes it is in our nature to try to regain it, to recapture it by using the tools we have at our disposal, cinema being the most powerful one. Peeling away the layers of memory as if they were a citrus fruit this young filmmaker uses animation, drawings, diary entries, poetry excerpts, Cyrillic typography, and sound recordings to transpose the viewer into her emotional state and a formative episode stuck in between coming and returning, growing and withdrawing, adventuring and settling down. Gorgeously crafted and subtly relived this cinematic notebook skilfully mixes genres (animation, documentary, video-diary) to share with us a feeling, a passage in time which can never return – do we remember, or have we already forgotten? Andalusian bard Federico Lorca might be dead and gone but here he is a revered companion, while train tracks become interconnecting timelines between what was and what will yet be. The jury was particularly impressed with the subtle and intuitive emotional grading devoid of affectation, the rich texture of the animation as well as the innovative use of sound.”

Isidora Vulić won Sour Cherry in Student competition for short animated film Orange Peel
Isidora Vulić, winner of Sour Cherry on Cherry Pop Film Festival saying thank you to jury and audience via video call

Sara Grgurić received a special mention for “In the Woods.”

Jury statement: “A gratifying and well-crafted film, depicting a couple in isolation, away from their usual environment, all alone, with considerable time on their hands. Whispers from the “real world“ and its current problems, as well as their fading love and attraction for one another, create an enduring anxiety for both the protagonists and the audience. The film centered around the female protagonist resonates with the viewers, not only because of its storyline and the experience of non-existent attraction between the couple, which many have witnessed in their own lives, but also due to all the other elements – beautiful cinematography, authentic set design, associative editing – altogether resulting in a complete film. Finally, both protagonists are in their own separate worlds, they’re in too deep, they’re in the woods, so can they go back and get out?”

Sara Grgurić won a special mention for her film In The Woods

The Festival also featured two lectures; one on the work of Japanese filmmaker Kenji Mizoguchi (by Tanja Vrvilo), the other on the evolution of gender roles in Hollywood (by Krešimir Košutić). In addition to this, a masterclass on networking in the film industry aimed at current and future film professionals was given by Sanja Drakulić from Duart.

Festival partner Duart awarded a one month professional membership to all the filmmakers who participated and a one year membership to all prize winners. Duart is a platform that helps film professionals network and look for jobs – essentially a LinkedIn for the film industry.

Gift packages for our guests were prepared by Cannabis Museum Zagreb and Štampar Winery but the most sought-after gift of the Festival was the Lelo package. The winners also received Davor Rostuhar’s book Love – Around the World.

The Festival’s visual identity was the work of design duo Lucija Sever and Petra Kovačević and the Sweet & Sour Cherry sculptures were hand-made by Karlo Glogoški of TreWolo.

Sanja Drakulić from Duart during Masterclass lecture
Handcrafted awards made by Trewolo team

The first edition of the Cherry Pop Film Festival was organized by the Academic Film Club and FPS Media, and supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Center and Michelangelo Labs – Fine Art Sculptors.