The Artist's Guide

Pula Film Festival 2019

For movie-lovers, nothing beats watching some of the year’s biggest hits at a film festival. But what if I told you that you could do all that from inside an ancient Roman amphitheatre beneath a starlit sky? They may not be the blockbusters playing at your local cinema, but if you happen to have a week off in mid-July and a passion for independent filmmaking, we definitely recommend heading down to the Adriatic coast, at the base of the Istrian peninsula, for the 66th annual Pula Film Festival!


Since its inception in 1954, the festival held in Pula has been put on to recognize the accomplishments of the people involved in the local film scene. Originally used as a way to showcase the best and brightest from the Yugoslav film industry (that is, until 1991 when Yugoslavia separated), it now serves the dual purpose of both film festival and awards ceremony for the Croatian film industry. For a week, the city of Pula plays host to the biggest names in Croatian cinema. Locals and tourists alike can enjoy the year’s newest movies in a number of venues, including the Pula Arena, one of the few Roman amphitheatres that remain intact today.


While moviegoers are being captivated by all the festival has to offer, critics and industry members are busy putting in their votes for a number of categories on either side of the camera, from ‘Best Film’ to ‘Best Editing’. Winners go home with the coveted Golden Arena Award. And, although the festival has in the past made an effort to show only Croatian films, the limited number of local productions required that they rethink their format and open their doors to international titles. Since then, their diverse programme has attracted a broader range of viewers from all over the world.

For those planning to attend the 2019 Pula Film Festival, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Footsteps, Family Stories from the Balkans: A documentary about the athletes who competed in the Olympics for Yugoslavia, and what happened to them and their families after the country broke up.
  2. Extracurricular: A dark comedy involving a disappointed father, a gun, a cake, a school, and a Mayor looking to take advantage of the situation. We’ll leave it at that, but it looks well worth the watch.
  3. The General – Perhaps the most recognizable face appearing in any of the local films, Goran Višnjić (best known as Dr. Luka Kovač in ER) plays the role of the film’s titular character, General Ante Gotovina, who was charged with war crimes for his significant involvement in the war leading to Croatia’s independence. A must-see for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of Croatia’s political landscape at the end of the 20th century.

For more information regarding this year’s titles, check out the festival’s official website. Whether you’re going to catch a few movies, or visit some amazing Roman architecture, the Pula Film Festival let’s you do it all! So, save the date and book a unique Croatia vacation rental so you’re never far from the next screening!

The Stella

Author The Stella

More posts by The Stella

Leave a Reply