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History Film Festival is a unique international festival which brings together and appraises the production of historical documentary films, a genre which lately attracts more and more followers. 

Films of all lengths and years of production are divided in two main categories:

  • Independent production documentaries
  • Documentaries produced by TV companies.

History Film Festival is founded and organized by Istra Film, an art association from Rijeka (Croatia).

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Click here to download the History Film Festival 2017 catalog.

Photos showcasing all four conference days

Festival awards ceremony

Cruise along the Kvarner

info@historyfilmfestival.com     /     +385 92 133 1310


By Boris Ružić


If the fiction film is meant to tell us fantastic stories and power our imagination, documentary films are regarded as films that educate us, reveal hidden truths and empower us to act. Sometimes, you have films that do both – fuel our mind with fantastic imagination, images and sounds, and persist as a powerful reminder of past events, telling the unknown truths. Few do both, while moving us personally. In the category for best film, the award Grad Prix goes to a film that does all of that, and more, telling a story of Holocaust, war and losing, but at the same time a story about love, persistence and hope – Touch of an Angel.


This award goes to the creator of one of the most memorable and impactful stories regarding human life, its suffering and joys. The director is a person that needs to fit everything together, and this film presents itself to the audience as a personal testimony, and intimate confession and as a universal story. Because of that balance, the award goes to Marek Pawlowski for Touch of an Angel.


The award goes to Klaus Stanjek for the film Sounds from the Fog, for delivering an important human story, a story that combines detective genre of a fiction film and inspired documentary writing on struggles of gay people in WW2, as well as the thin line between political partisanship and dictatorship.


For masterful camera work, beautiful photography and a vision of how to balance the need of documenting one of most important events in the 20th century while maintaining the magic of the film as a visual medium, we are awarding Jacek Januszyk for the film “Touch of an Angel”, directed by Marek Pawlowski.


We are awarding a film that manages not only to keep the viewers’ attention, but to engage him or her in what is ultimately a highly moving, inspiring and important story regarding women in popular culture and show business. By masterful editing, structuring of the narrative and building a cohesive and complex issues of sexism, proto-feminism and the long struggle of women for the control of their bodies and representation, we are awarding editor Rob Ruzic for the film League of Exotic Dancers.


Film is a medium that is hard to imagine without the dimension of sound. Even silent films weren’t silent, but had often been accompanied with live music performances. We are accustomed to sharing the visual and sound experience of a movie at the same time, but often film creators spend an incredible amount of time designing, recording and mixing those sounds. In this category, we are handing the award to the film that uses music not just as a background to the moving images, but as a strong element in narrating, experiencing and traversing the historic distance of a World War 2. If the images enable us to see, with the help of music, the audience can also feel a movie. It is for this reason that the award goes to Franck Marchal of D-Day Normandy 1944.


This award goes to a film important in scope, and the history it reveals to the audience. Film is not just a medium of entertainment, but also of learning. Production value of a film that deals with rather unknown side of a music history is hence double. It is an effort not only to show us the “rock and roll” side of the world, but also the silent, overheard part of the story. In courage to narrate that which is sometimes easier not to enunciate, this award goes to Rumble and its producers Catherine Bainbridge, Christina Fon, Lisa M. Roth, Linda Ludwick and Stevie Salas.


Sometimes, great stories can be right in front of us. Such stories need an inspired crew and a visionary author in narrating them to the wider audience. And television is still a powerful medium for speaking to the audience. Award in the category of a “Best TV-Film” goes to the incredibly contemporary topic and a cautionary tale. By superb pacing, immense archival work and a vision of how to communicate that which Hannah Arendt names “the banality of evil”, this film is at the same time a historic record never before explored to these depths, and a timely warning of the challenges of terrorism as something not always distant from us. The award goes to Oklahoma City by Barak Goodman.


The category of “Best Independent Film” is always an important one. It presumes a development of film outside the infrastructure of a big studio production. It can also denote a story that is personal and intimate to the author, but by no means „small “. Such is the film we are awarding here – personal in its approach, but universal in the theme it communicates. It shows us what truly is an independent cinema; courageous and visionary. The award goes to “RUMBLE: The Indians who Rocked the World” by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana.

Selected documentaries will be evaluated by an international jury.

Thematic conferences and seminars will also be included in the programme of the festival, such as those dedicated to mutual influences of film and history, to film production related to certain historical events and characters, to the status of film archives’ materials, to biographical film, etc. Besides historians and film authors, a significant role will be given to film magazines and their authors who will be offered to publish the discussions held at these meetings.

Film authors attending the Festival in Rijeka, will also be invited to participate in workshops with a view to presenting their approach to historical documentaries to the students of the University of Rijeka and to the general public.

Promotions of specialized and nonfictional books dealing with history and film will also be organized during the festival.

One day of the festival will be dedicated to the presentations of a selected TV company and its documentary production. By introducing the themes and the production methods used, it will offer an opportunity to the film authors to present their projects to the representatives of that TV company and to possibly establish business relations with it.

One day of the festival will be dedicated to the presentations of a selected TV company and its documentary production. 

History Film Festival rules

Find out all the details regarding content submissions and deadlines!

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Why Rijeka?

In a historical sense, Rijeka is one of the most exciting European cities of the 20th century, which is why historians often compare it to Berlin, Gdansk and Trieste.

This bold statement is substantiated with the fact that in the past century Rijeka was a part of as many as seven different states. Although a relatively small city, Rijeka contributed to world history several things that have changed mankind – the torpedo was invented here, in Rijeka D’Annunzio founded fascism, the implementation in surgical operations of tincture of iodine started in Rijeka, the first photograph of a supersonic flying bullet was also taken here, etc.

The first feature film made on Croatian soil was shot in Rijeka.

Rijeka has a high quality cinematographic, accommodation and transportation infrastructure which makes it an excellent host for both film authors and visitors of the Festival. Rijeka and its surrounding area have many historical locations where festival events could be held and thus symbolically connect film and history in yet another way.

Rijeka has been declared European Capital of Culture for the year 2020.

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