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Goltzius and the Pelican Company by Peter Greenaway Began Filming in Zagreb

On Wednesday, 27 July, the filming of Goltzius and the Pelican Company by British director Peter Greenaway began in Zagreb. After dealing with Rembrandt’s biography in the first film from his cycle Dutch Masters (Nightwatching, 2007), this time he focuses on an episode from the life of Dutch painter, illustrator and one of the most acclaimed engravers from the turn of the 16th to the 17th century, Hendrik Goltzius.

Goltzius and the Pelican Company is co-produced by the Dutch production company Kasander Film, MP filmska produkcija from Zagreb, CDP from France and F&ME from the UK. The film was co-funded by HAVC (the funds were allocated after the public tender in the co-production category with minority Croatian share), and Netherlands Film Fund, Centre National du Cinema (CNC), Bankside distributer from Great Britain and Eurimages fund.

The story takes place in 1590, at the time when Goltzius negotiated in a castle on the Rhine with the rich Alsatian nobleman Margrave to ensure him the funds for a print press. Goltzius wished to print eroticised versions of illustrated Old Testament tales of Adam and Eve, Lot and his daughters, David and Bathsheba, Portiphar’s wife, Samson and Delilah, and the New Testament tale of John the Baptist and Salome. The nobleman’s castle, enthralled with Goltzius’ seductive tales, drenched in the motifs of incest, adultery, and rape, slowly sinks in the trap of aroused lust, and consequentially in a conflict with religious circles.

The role of Goltzius is played by Dutch actor and poet (the current Dutch Poet Laureate 2009-2012) Ramsey Nasr, and the film also stars American actor F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, All the President’s Men, Scarface), French actress Kate Moran, Italian actor Pipo Delbono, and Croatian actors and actresses Nada Abrus, Katja Zubčić, Goran Grgić, Enes Vejzović, Duško Valentić, Milan Pleština, Tvrtko Jurić, Vedran Živolić, Samir Vujčić and Goran Bogdan. The creative part of the crew includes around 60 Croatian filmmakers.

Peter Greenaway is the author of one of the most exciting film works of today. Film devotees remember him by the extraordinary classic The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover from 1989. Since then he has acquired the cult status thanks to his films The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), The Belly of an Architect (1987), and Drowning by Numbers (1988). Considering the fact that in the early 1980s the use of the remote controller definitely killed the cinema experience, Greenaway has lately turned to multimedia projects (such as the cycle The Tulse Luper Suitcases), i.e. combining literature, historiography, exhibitions and film with interactive internet platforms. His digital analysis of the painting The Wedding at Cana by the mannerist painter Paolo Veronese was screened at the Venice Biennale in 2009. A New York Times critic called it one of “the best art history classes of all times”.

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