Something you might not know about me is that I'm a big movie buff. I have been really interested in movies and the movie industry since I was kid, so it was my pleasure to have the opportunity to watch some of this year's documentary movies at ZagrebDox.

Today I'm bringing you content that is a little bit different from my usual content. However, I'm still showing you outfits I wore haha, so it counts. All jokes aside, I have always wanted to visit this film festival in my city, but I just never got the chance before. It was refreshing to watch some documentary films that you don't usually get a chance to watch, since they are not played at the cinema, or major streaming platforms.

What is ZagrebDox?

ZagrebDox is an international documentary film festival taking place in Zagreb every year. Launched in 2005, the festival is intended to provide audiences and experts insight into recent documentary films, stimulate national documentary production and boost international and regional cooperation in co-productions. ZagrebDox is a specialized festival that presents the best creative documentary films whose imaginative form and choice of topics make it unique in Croatia and Europe. Since 2022 ZagrebDox is the only Croatian film festival whose winner is automatically nominated for the European Film Academy annual award.

The documentary films I watched

I watched 4 films all together at ZagrebDox this year; 2 on Wednesday, 1 on Thursday and 1 on Saturday. There are dozens of films being shown each day, so it's quite difficult to choose which ones to watch. I have a full time job and other obligations, so that meant that I could only go in the evenings most days. I read a bit about all the movies that were being shown at times I could attend, and I chose the ones that sounded the most intriguing to me.

Magic Mountain

My rating: 3/5
What happens to us when we try to erase our past because we fear societal stereotypes? After recovering from tuberculosis Mariam has a recurring nightmare, that lasts seven years, about being kept high up in the mountains, in the middle of the forest in an old palace called Abastumani where outcasts live. One day, Mariam goes to meet the secret community to overcome her fear. Working on this film, the directors realised that Abastumani wasn't just hiding a small society, but was also a Pandora's box of Georgia's past. The building shares a forgotten story that was never told, and the ghosts of the past reveal something much more sinister than Mariam’s personal nightmare: they expose the nightmare of a whole country.

My thoughts
After reading the description of this movie, I somehow thought it would be something completely different from what it actually was. I thought we would follow Mariam's story, her journey with tuberculosis and how her story relates to this hidden hospital in the Georgian mountains. However, she had never been there before filming this movie, and the story actually shows the lives of all the people who live there because they have not been able to get cured from tuberculosis. The film was very interesting, as I never knew something like this existed, and I think it does a great job at setting the grim, unsettling atmosphere from the beginning. 
The people living there are 80% older men from the edge of society, some of them criminals, and generally not very pleasant people. It was unnerving watching how some of them treat other people and animals. 
What I think is missing from this movie is context. I know people can still get tuberculosis today, but it's very rare to see this in developed countries, especially in Europe. We didn't really get an explanation about why there are so many cases of tuberculosis in Georgia. Is it something that's still happening? Is it specific for the region where the film was shot? Why is it happening? I felt like we were just dropped into this dystopian hospital in Georgia that is specialized in tuberculosis as if it was the most normal thing, when I think most people would be surprised a hospital like this even exists in this day and age.

High & Low - John Galliano

My rating: 4.5/5
From the mid 1980’s until 2011 John Galliano, the flamboyant, iconoclastic head designer at Dior, was considered one of the most important fashion designers in history. But in February 2011 a video emerged of Galliano spewing anti-Semitic slurs in a Parisian bar. He was fired by Dior, berated by the Jewish community and ostracised from the fashion world. He lost everything. And then he tried to make amends. Directed by Academy-Award winning Kevin Macdonald and featuring candid interviews with Galliano and others, including Sidney Toledano, Kate Moss, Boris Cyrulnik, Penelope Cruz and Charlize Theron, the film is not only the story of a troubled and talented man but also poses a question: do we ever truly know what’s going on inside our own minds? 

My thoughts:
I have been a fan of John Galliano since I was a kid, and when that scandal happened in 2011, I really didn't know what to think of him anymore. I was appalled by what he said, and then he just disappeared and became a persona non grata in the fashion industry. I didn't really follow the case later and had no idea about the details of the case, and what happened later. After I watched this movie, I realized I actually didn't know that much about him. The documentary does and amazing job in exploring his early life, his fashion beginnings, his rise to fame, as well as his downfall. 
I was impressed by the amount of people Kevin Macdonald managed to interview for this film - he showed us what John's friends think, as well as the people he hurt with his words and actions. Even though it's obvious he has done a lot over the last 10 years to redeem himself, and he has started working and designing again, the film leaves it up to the viewers to decided whether they think he should be forgiven or not. This is what I like about this film - it doesn't feel like you're forced into forgiving him or not; it's totally up to you. He is certainly a very complicated person, as most of us are, and the story is not black and white. If you get a chance to watch this film somewhere, I highly recommend it - especially if you're a fashion lover like me!

A Storm Foretold

My rating: 3.5/5
Trump's longtime adviser Roger Stone maneuvers in and out of filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen's grasp in this jaw-dropping portrait of a puppet master tangled in his own strings. The film captures the combination of toxicity, duplicity and candor that makes Stone such an influential and dangerous figure on the US political landscape. It’s an important, remarkable, at times terrifying, film. It reveals that Stone and his set play at presidential politics like it’s their private game. And not the 3D chess they’d like you to believe, but something far less strategically sophisticated — a round of kids’ Monopoly, perhaps, in which the only things for sure are that Roger Stone always plays as the top hat and he always gets out of jail free.

My thoughts:
I went into this film knowing it would piss me off, and I was not wrong. As someone who doesn't support Trump at all, I find his political games behind the scenes absolutely revolting. I'm not American, so I try to stay neutral, but it's difficult to stay neutral about someone like Trump and all the people he surrounds himself with. This film was shocking to watch at times. I wasn't that surprised by all the games and manipulation, because that is to be expected in politics. Still, seeing how far this goes in the US, is absolutely wild. Two things shocked me the most: the absolute hell that that director went through to create this film (he even got caught up in the January 6 riots!), and the fact that Roger Stone thought of the whole "stolen election" tactic several years before the 2020 election! This was the narrative he wanted to spin for the 2016 election in case Trump loses, but since he won, Stone kept that idea for another time. 2020 came, Trump lost, and they decided to use this vile and desperate tactic to try to convince the country how the election was stolen somehow.
It's horrible to see what these politicians are capable of doing. However, the movie was intriguing to watch. I wish we got a better ending, and managed to find out what happened with Stone after it all ended. Of course we can Google it, but it would have been nice to have a closure in the movie.

Another Body

My rating: 3/5
Another Body follows American college student Taylor’s search for answers and justice after she discovers deepfake pornography of herself circulating online. She dives headfirst into the underground world of deepfakes, and discovers a growing culture of men terrorizing women—influencers, classmates, friends. More than just a cautionary tale about misused technology and the toxicity of the online world, this documentary transforms the deepfake technology weaponized against Taylor into a tool that allows her to tell her story and reclaim her identity. Through candid video diaries, synthetic media, and 2D and 3D animation, the film takes you into her online and offline worlds, humanizing a vast social issue in a compelling personal story. 

My thoughts:
I chose to watch this film because the topic is very current, and frankly - really scary. I recently had a conversation with a friends about AI and deepfakes, and how scary it all is. It can be used for good and bad, just like any other technology, but we have reached a point where it's all getting really scary. Even though this film was intriguing to watch (and terrifying!), I thought it lacked depth, and it was a bit all over the place. The first part of the movie was quite slow and boring at times, which is weird since the topic is so crazy. The film felt very home-made and amateur, which I know it was, but it fel like it could have been someone's school project. Maybe that was the point - however I expect a bit more from a documentary film being shown at a film festival. It felt like I was watching a vlog on Youtube or something. The pace picks up in the second part of the film, and a famous Youtuber Gibi ASMR gets involved, as they made porn deepfakes of her too. I was shocked to see her, as I know her videos very well. The second part was a lot more interesting, and somehow seemed more professional. 
To conclude, I think this is a very important topic that should be talked about. It's good that this film was made to raise awareness and give the girl who has experienced this a voice to tell her story. However, I also think it could use some improvements.

My outfits

ZagrebDox is a very chill and low-key film festival. People dress in casual clothes, and it's rare to see someone dressed up. I chose to wear chic dressy outfits, because that's my style, and I think this is appropriate for an occasion like this. Even though I wouldn't say my outfits were fancy or anything, I can tell you I was a bit overdressed every day I went haha! I don't mind though, I'm used to it. That's just who I am, and how I dress. This is the beauty of fashion - everyone can express themselves how they want to.

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