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Croatian films and filmmakers at Toronto festival

The ‘Short Cuts’ programme of the 41st Toronto International Film Festival, taking place September 8th to 18th, will screen the premiere of the short film Half a Man directed by Kristina Kumrić. The festival will also screen two Croatian minority co-productions: the world premiere of The Day My Father Became a Bush by Nicole van Kilsdonk, and Sieranevada by Romanian director Cristi Puiu.

Half a Man is the result of a national project ‘One Picture from the Homeland War’ whose aim is to artistically depict personal or very near experiences of the Homeland War, or, in this case, the traumas suffered by war veterans and their loved ones. The project was initiated in June 2013 by the Ministry of Veteran Affairs and the Croatian Audiovisual Centre in co-operation with HRT (Croatian Radio Television), the Croatian Writers Society, and the Vukovar Film Festival. Maja Hrgović’s story Povratak (Return) won, while in the second phase director Kristina Kumrić, screenwriter Maja Hrgović and producer Vanja Jambrović from Restart presented the winning filming project.

This story is set in the Dalmatian Hinterland in the fall of 1991 when 10 year-old Mia and 12 year-old Lorena are having a big and important day: their father Mirko is coming home after being released from a concentration camp where he had been held captive for the last three months. The film stars Janja Avdagić, Leonarda Živković, Franjo Dijak, Marina Redžepović, Nikša Butijer, Igor Hamer and Jelena Kordić. The cinematographer is Igor Zelić, the editor is Frano Homen, the sound engineer is Borna Buljević, the costume designer is Zorana Meić, and the art director is Ivana Škrabalo. The film is a Croatian-French co-production with production support from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, and the Île-de-France region, and is produced by Restart, and co-produced by Melocoton Films (France) and the Artist Organisation Kinoljetka (Croatia). Producers are Vanja Jambrović and Tibor Keser, and co-producers are Hélene Mitjavile and Hrvoje Osvadić.

The film will have its world premiere in Toronto and is scheduled for screening on Saturday, September 10th, Sunday, September 11th, and Friday, September 16th.

Two Croatian minority co-productions in TIFF Kids and Masters Programmes

The Dutch-Croatian-Belgian co-production The Day My Father Became a Bush (Toen mijn vader een struik werd) directed by Nicole van Kilsdonk will have its world premiere in the TIFF Kids programme. This is the film version of Dutch writer Joke van Leeuwen’s novel, also about war, seen through the eyes of 10 year-old Toda. When war breaks out in the South, Toda’s father has to go defend his country. He sends Toda to her mother in a neighboring country, which is not a simple journey in the middle of war…

The film is produced by Holland’s Lemming Film and co-produced by Nukleus Film (Croatia) and Minds Meets and A Private View (Belgium), and was fully shot and filmed in Croatia, in Zagreb and Varaždin, through the Film/TV production incentives program. Along with co-producer Siniša Juričić, the Croatian team includes production designer Ivan Veljača, costume designer Zorana Meić, make-up artist Snježana Gorup, camera operator Mario Vargović, production manager Nikolina Koceić, sound mixer Hrvoje Petek, and actors Jan Kerekeš, Hrvojka Begović and Damir Poljičak. The film stars Celeste Holsheimer as Toda, while the supporting cast includes Matsen Montsma, Anneke Blok and Noorthe Herlaar. Nicole van Kilsdonk wrote and directed the film, while the cinematographer is Gregg Telussa, and the editor is David Verdurme. Producers are Leontine Petit, Fleur Winters and Eva Eisenloeffel, while co-producers are Siniša Juričić, Dries Phlypo and Tomas Leyers. Screening is scheduled for Saturday, September 10th, Sunday, September 11th and Saturday, September 17th.

The Masters programme brings the best of relevant art-house film directors, and will this year screen the Croatian minority co-production Sieranevada by Romanian director Cristi Puiu. The film is a five-country co-production: Romania, France, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia. The Croatian co-producer is Spiritus Movens and the producer is Zdenka Gold. Petra Kurtela plays a supporting role in the film. Sieranevada will have its North American premiere in Toronto on Thursday, September 8th, and will also be screened on Tuesday, September 13th and Saturday, September 17th.

Also, producer Anita Juka from 4Film will participate in the 7th Producers Lab Toronto platform aimed at connecting film professionals from Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The Lab will be held from September 6th to 9th during the 41st TIFF.

This year, the Toronto International Film Festival will screen 397 films, 296 of which are feature films and 101 are short. The selection was made from 6933 entries. The films come from 83 countries around the globe and the festival expects at least 100 000 viewers. More information about the festival can be found here.

Cover photos: Half a Man; The Day My Father Became a Bush; Sieranevada

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