As many as three Croatian feature films are to screen in the main competition program of the 21st Motovun Film Festival. They all deal with the subjects Croatian society hesitates to face – nationalism and xenophobia, war crimes and war episodes left unpunished or unresolved, young people lost in the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
One of these features is probably one of the more important documentaries we will have an opportunity to see this year. With the prestigious Doc Alliance award under its belt, the film will have its Croatian premiere in Motovun. Of course, it is Srbenka by Nebojša Slijepčević. The film follows the preparations and rehearsals for Aleksandra Zec stage play by Oliver Frljić. A number of Croatian war veterans protested against the play, asking why Frljić did not write plays about Croatian children killed in the war. This question was one of the things discussed by the stage director and his actors, who had a hard time rehearsing amidst all the hatred. At the same time, personal traumas and family histories emerge in the often dramatic moments of the film which much more than just another “making of”.
The animated documentary Chris the Swiss by Swiss filmmaker Anja Kofmel also deals with taboo subjects. She is trying to cast some light on the never investigated death of her cousin, who died on the frontline in Croatian Slavonia in the early 1990s. The film premiered in Critics’ Week program in Cannes. This film also stirred controversies in Croatia even before it was shown. Again there were reactions of some war veterans, not happy with the way the Homeland War was interpreted in the film.
In January 1992, Swiss journalist Christian Würtenberg was found dead, wearing the uniform of a mercenary unit. More than 20 years later, his cousin and filmmaker arrives in Croatia in order to find out what really happened. After following some leads, she concludes he was killed by his fellow combatants from the unit commanded by the Bolivian volunteer Eduardo Flores Chico.
As a step back from the ghosts of the past, Aleksi, the debutant film by Barbara Vekarić, will close the festival. The film, permeated with Mediterranean colors and starring Tihana Lazović, corresponds with the common thread of the Berlin – Partner Country program: it analyzes what makes Berlin so attractive for young generations. Aleksi wants to go to Berlin although she has no idea what to do with her life. Her dilemmas and uncertainties make her a typical member of the generation of “twenty-somethings”. Aleksi does not have to leave for economic reasons – she has wealthy parents, a big house and winemaking business. Still, she thinks a meaningful life is elsewhere. In the meantime, she becomes involved with three totally different men, complicating her life for no real reason.
Made in the sun-bathed landscapes of Orebić, the film has an impressive cast (veterans Neda Arnerić and Aljoša Vučković, as well as Goran Marković – again a special chemistry can be felt between him and Tihana, like in The High Sun). It addresses the serious generational problems in a cheerful and breezy way, with bright-colored humor, music and photography. Another thing that makes the film special in the context of Croatian cinema is the fact that it does not mention war at all.