CIFFT Circuit 2022 – A look inside the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival
by CIFFT on 26 May 2022
CIFFT Circuit 2022 – A look inside the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival
by CIFFT on 26 May 2022

Video is one of the most powerful and popular marketing tools nowadays. Through the effective use of audiovisual content, brands can reach, engage and captivate the audience.

Video can directly influence how people perceive a tourism experience and, consequently, their decision-making process. The Tourism Industry has increasingly betted on authentic and innovative strategies to promote its attractions through audiovisual content and attract more visitors and investments. The advertising, film, and tourism industries are more connected than ever.

In Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, the best tourism promotional videos are recognized and awarded in a unique event: the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival. Founded in 2011, the event is organized by BALDUČI FILM, a production company with long expertise in the film industry.

The festival intends to educate and motivate the Tourist Industry players to promote particular destinations, products, and services using video. The competitiveness and quality of the festival make tourism boards, audiovisual producers, creative agencies, and tourism companies participate annually. For this year's edition, entries are open till May 31st on the festival website.

Zagreb is a modern and vibrant city, and festival participants have the opportunity to experience its charm while participating in the festival’s activities for professionals in the tourism audiovisual sector, including forums, workshops, networking meetings, and a memorable award ceremony.

Since 2011 the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival is an official member of the International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals (CIFFT), which brings together the World’s Best Tourism Film Festivals from four continents at the most prestigious awards and recognition initiative for the Travel Video Marketing Industry - the CIFFT Circuit.

To find out more about the history of the festival, who is behind it, and what the 2022 edition reserves for its participants, we spoke with Spomenka Saraga, director of the Zagreb Tourfilm Festival.

Who is Spomenka Saraga? (Short Bio)

Filmmaker for almost 40 years, travel journalist, photographer,  Zagreb Tourfilm Festival´s director, and avid adventurer. I travel to the most exotic corners of the world.  My film experience, gained in the famous Jadran Film Studio - referred to at that time as European Hollywood – was won through holding highly responsible financial and production posts and making films together with famous directors, actors, and other producers. After that, I founded my own company, BALDUČI FILM, producing many successful documentaries, feature, and tourism promotional films. I have been awarded numerous prizes in Croatian and International Film Festivals and I am a Member of the Croatian Association of Film Workers, the Croatian Producers Association, and the World Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers. Member of the Jury at the Deauville Green Awards, Baku International Tourism Film Festival, ART&TUR Portugal, SILAFEST, Cappadoccia Tourism Film Festival, South Africa, among others.

Could you briefly tell us about your career so far and what led you to the Travel Video Marketing Industry?

My love for films was determined by the place I was born. I was born across the road from the legendary Jadran Film production company and from early childhood, I saw actors and later I would see them on TV. So in a way, they were my neighbors. At that time Jadran Film produced a lot of American films. It was of course Yugoslavia back then, and when the actors went to buy some things, a lot of people didn't recognize them. People lived more relaxed lives back then and when they walked around the town in those costumes it was very interesting to see. I started working in Jadran Film and soon decided that documentary film was the niche that interested me. Within documentary films, I started to love tourism films and that love has lasted until the present day. Then the love for tourism films became a love for travelling.

Direktorica Festivala Spomenka Saraga

What inspired you to found the Zagreb TourFilm Festival? What were the main challenges in creating an international tourism film festival?

Organizing such an event is not that simple. We owe a debt of thanks to Amelia Tomašević, the previous director of the Zagreb Tourist Board, who saw potential in the promotion of tourism through such festivals. In a way, she was a co-organizer. My experience at other festivals allowed me to see what is good and bad. In the first year, we set the bar very high, so later it was really hard to surpass that. I think we had a great festival. Every guest praises the festival, as it can be seen in the reaction of the guests, who come for the first time, or have been here. Also, ambassadors in Croatia show satisfaction with the festival. They are amazed how their country gets promotion through the festival, they are happy that their film was shown to the Croatian people. The benefit of these festivals is that journalists in countries that won the award are writing about them. We have a lot of articles abroad, for example in Japan. We recently got information that fifty portals have written about a film and its director who won an award in Zagreb. So that is the promotion of the town and country abroad. Sometimes people come to the festivals for three days, but they often extend their stay for a week or even more.

What has been your most rewarding experience as a festival director?

Of course, happy people who come to the ZTFF. Sometimes people come to the festival for just three days, but they often extend their stay for a week or even more, or they come back to Croatia with family and friends for holiday.

In your opinion, what makes Zagreb a good destination for the festival? How do the attributes of the place contribute to the attendees’ experience? 

Zagreb is the capital of Croatia, a small but nice city. Everything here is very close. The airport is only 20 minutes from the center of town, so coming here by car or plane is very easy. Croatia can be proud of its festivals and hospitality. Festivals always offer people to stay, and food, they make great organizations and welcome them. From day one, we want to make their stay very beautiful. Some people are shy and we make sure to connect them to other people, so they don't feel bored or left out. We always want to feed our guests well (smile).


Why should people enter Tourism Videos in the Zagreb TourFilm Festival?

According to the evaluation and comments of our guests, the people who submitted their films to our festival, ZTFF is well known for its highly acclaimed elegant award ceremony.  We think that's a good reason, do you agree? All awarded films can be watched during the days of the festival and you can meet with those who have created or commissioned them. That is an extra promotion for the country that entered the film.

What kind of videos are you looking for, and what should they have to become winners?

We are looking for films, which represent the country in the best possible way, but also which have something special and be different. Don’t be afraid of taking a risk. Because if you are too cautious, you might miss the opportunity and you might not have a second one. Victory tastes very sweet and there are many advantages to winning, as the harder the win was, the sweeter the taste of victory is.  You start feeling better about yourself and you improve your confidence and you boost up your morale.

ZTFF 2019

What can we expect from the Zagreb TourFilm Festival in 2022? Could you share some of this year’s highlights?

We hope to hold the festival live this year, that this situation with the Corona will not make it difficult or postpone the festival. Our plan is to hold a panel on "How do we better prepare the tourism sector for future pandemics?” and “Film induced tourism: Destination image formation and development”, excursions to Zagreb County, B2B meetings, film screenings, parties with good food and wine, and of course, a nice Awarding Ceremony in beautiful Esplanad hotel. As you know the Croatian capital in 2020 was hit by the biggest earthquake in the last 140 years, causing damage and injuries, and we are still trying to fix it. We need a promotion to bring tourists back to our city.

To finish, as a Tourism/Travel passionate, how do tourism videos impact you?

Most consumers say that watching videos of products gives them more confidence when making a decision, before booking. Because online shopping is quite a risk sometimes, especially in the tourism industry, since it is not the same as purchasing an item that can easily be exchanged, than booking your holidays. Personally, I am addicted to films and travel videos. I watch some films a few times. Very often after that I go to that country and look for places I saw in the film. If I already was there it's nice to see it again.

By producing creative videos, customer testimonials, and demonstrations of customized products, video marketing in tourism has a key role in all stages of a traveler's journey.

Video content drives more engagement compared to other content types and according to some studies, 83% of consumers would consider sharing a video with their friends if the content was relevant to their specific interests. I’m one of them.

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