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Bruno Anković’s Celebration world premiere in main programme at 58th Karlovy Vary

Director Bruno Anković’s feature debut Celebration, penned by Jelena Paljan and produced by Zagreb company Eclectica to have its world premiere in the main competition at the Karlovy Vary IFF. In addition, Croatian co-production Real of Ukrainian director Oleh Sentsov (Propeler Film) will also premiere at the Czech festival.

Celebration is an adaptation of the eponymous multi-award-winning novel written by Damir Karakaš.

It has been selected to screen in the main competition at the 58th Karlovy Vary International film Festival, held 28th June – 6th July, competing for the Crystal Globe alongside ten other fiction and documentary titles from across the globe.

“When I first read Karakaš’s novel ‘Celebration’, I was extremely impressed by the way that the very clear, yet factually sparse and indirect history of the region seemed to break through the intimate story of the main protagonist Mijo and his family; a region constantly spinning in a circle of wars, poverty and the tragic hope of better days. The film deals with the way politics and ideology, which always go hand in hand, shape our private lives, influence our intimate decisions and why they are impossible to avoid”, said Celebration director, Bruno Anković.

Celebration was filmed in authentic locations around the Lika-Senj County during the four seasons and follows twenty years in the life of its protagonist and his family in a humble village in Lika. At the end of World War II, tired and defeated, the soldier Mijo hides in the forest. From his hiding place, he observes his native village, to which he can never return. Mijo takes us on a journey into the past, and through three key moments in his life we discover the circumstances that lead to the rise of extremism in society.

Mijo is portrayed in the three stages of his life by Bernard Tomić, Lars Štern and Jan Doležal. Krešimir Mikić stars in the role of his father, while Klara Fiolić appears in the role of Mijo’s wife Drenka, alongside Tanja Smoje, Nedim Nezirović, David Tasić Daf and Izudin Bajrović in supporting roles.

Director of photography is Aleksandar Pavlović, the film was edited by Tomislav Stojanović, Julij Zornik did the sound design and mixing, the music score was delivered by Alen and Nenad Sinkauz, while production design was created by Bojan Drezgić, costume design was done by Morana Starčević, and the makeup artist was Snježana Gorup.

Celebration is an Eclectica from Zagreb production, with producers Tina Tišljar and Rea Rajčić.

“Having the film selected to screen in the main competition at Karlovy Vary comes as a confirmation that the story told in ‘Celebration’ is both geographically and politically a universal one despite the fact that Damir Karakaš’s novel and our film tell a story of an ordinary man from the heart of Lika. We are glad that the premiere is a validation of the efforts of everyone who worked on the film both in front and behind the camera and that all the hard work, time and care invested in creating this highly challenging film in terms of production have truly paid off,” say Celebration producers Tina Tišljar and Rea Rajčić of Eclectica.

The film is a Croatian-Qatari co-production, with the support of the Slovenian production house Pakt Media and co-producers Diego Zanco and Ira Cecić.

The project was financially supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Doha Film Institute, Creative Europe (Media sub-programme) and Croatian Radiotelevision. It was developed at the Ekran+ workshop organised by the Polish Studio Wajda, as well as participating in the First Cut+ workshop and being presented at the industry programme When East Meets West in Trieste and the industry event Qumra in Doha.

In addition, the programme Special Screenings brings the premiere of the feature documentary Real of Ukrainian director Oleh Sentsov. Sentsov was arrested in May 2014 during a protest against the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, and spent five years in a Russian prison. He was finally released following a legal and lobbying rescue campaign carried out, among others, by professional organisations such as the European Film Academy. Sentsov has been on the frontline in Ukraine since 2022, while the film Real presents real footage of one of the Russian attacks on his unit.

In 2023, the film was financially backed by the European Solidarity Fund for Ukrainian Films (ESFUF). Croatian producers are Boris Matić and Lana Matić for Propeler Film, with Mike Downey (Downey Ink.) as co-producer. The film’s head producer is Denis Ivanov (AT Films LLC).

Karlovy Vary is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in Europe annually screening more than 200 titles. The jury of the Crystal Globe competition is comprised of American producer Christine Vachon, world-famous Australian actor Geoffrey Rush, Icelandic screenwriter Sjón, Czech actress Eliška Křenková and Hungarian director and composer Gábor Reisz.

More information about this year’s Karlovy Vary IFF programme is available at the festival’s official website.

Cover photographs: scenes from Celebration

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