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Croatian shorts at 67th Berlinale: Into the Blue and Hedgehog’s Home selected into Generation programme

Two Croatian short films will have their world premieres at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival: Into the Blue by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović will screen in the Generation 14plus, while the animated film Hedgehog’s Home by Eva Cvijanović will screen in Generation Kplus.

Generation is a competition programme at the Berlinale screening films that are thematically and esthetically aimed at children and youth. The programme consists of two parts: Generation Kplus and Generation 14plus. The winners receive a Crystal Bear and a monetary prize and the programme attracts more than 65 000 viewers each year.

Generation 14plus will screen Into the Blue, a short film by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović. The film is produced by Motion (Croatia) and Blade Production (Slovenia). The film is about thirteen year-old Julija and her mother who, running from an abusive home, come to an idyllic island where Julija spent time when she was young. Julija is desperate to become close again with her best friend Ana. But Ana is in love and Julija is no longer important to her. Her rejection opens up old wounds for Julija.

‘An element which is so excellently apparent in working with kids is the exploration of the story through the eyes of the characters (without a wealth of experience in front of the camera). Child actors are actually unaware of acting and it is sometimes easier to guide their intuition into an authentic portrayal which documents the child’s everyday routine,’ stated the director.

The film is written by Christina Lazaridi, and stars Gracija Filipović, Vanesa Vidaković Natrlin, Dominik Duždević, Andro Režić, Nataša Dangubić and Marija Kohn. The cinematographer is Marko Brdar, the editor is Minji Kang, the sound engineer is Julij Zornik, and the music is composed by Ivan Marinović. The producers are Barbara Vekarić and Vlaho Krile (Motion), along with Zoran Dževerdanović (Blade Production). The film is supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, and as a project was developed at the Short Film Station in the 2016 Berlinale Talents programme.

Generation Kplus will screen the animated film Hedgehog’s Home, an adaption of the well-known fable written by Branko Ćopić, who, through the meeting of a hedgehog and other forest dwellers – a fox, a wolf, a wild pig and a bear, speaks about the importance of home. ‘This is a story about a basic and universal concept which is incredibly important in the modern context of the global village: home can be a place, but it can also be a state of mind we share with others. The experience of local surroundings is common in all cultures and generations and is always equally important. That space, which serves not only as a shelter but a reflection of our identity, is a key element in human existence. It is the reason that today, when I have had so many different homes, this story still lives within me just as strongly as it did in very different circumstances, when I had first heard it as a child,’ said director Eva Cvijanović.

Hedgehog’s Home was created using the stop-motion animation technique and is a Canadian-Croatian co-production. The film is true to the original fable written by Branko Ćopić, and is narrated in three languages: the Croatian narrator is Rade Šerbedžija, the English narrator is actor Kenneth Welsh (Twin Peaks), and the French narrator is actress France Castel. The music is by Darko Rundek. The animators are Ivana Bošnjak and Thomas Johnson (Simulacra) who also modelled the figures along with screenwriter and director Eva Cvijanović. The renowned animator Tim Allen, who collaborated with Tim Burton and Wes Anderson (Corpse Bride, Fantastic Mr Fox), was the puppet and animation advisor. The cinematographer is Ivan Slipčević and the editors are Eva Cvijanović and Iva Kraljević.

It is interesting to note that Hedgehog’s Home is the first collaboration between Canada’s National Film Board and any Croatian production company in the last 40 years. The producers are Jelena Popović (NFB) and Vanja Andrijević (Bonobostudio), and the film is supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and the City of Zagreb Office for Education, Culture and Sport.

In 2015, the Generation 14plus programme screened the multiple award-winning film Picnic by Jure Pavlović, which won a European Film Award for Best European Short Film, while last year, Zrinko Ogresta’s feature film On the Other Side had its world premiere in the Panorama programme.

The 67th Berlin International Film Festival will be held from February 9th to 19th, 2017. The film programmes and accompanying film market attract nearly half a million visitors each year. For more information please visit the festival’s official website.

Materials from Into the Blue are available here, while those from Hedgehog’s Home are available at this link.

Cover photos: scenes from Into the Blue and Hedgehog’s Home

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