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Nebojša Slijepčević’s The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent in Cannes FF official competition; minority co-production When the Light Breaks opens Un Certain Regard

Short film directed and written by Nebojša Slijepčević and produced by Katarina Prpić and Danijel Pek (Antitalent), The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent, to have its world premiere in the official short film competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. In addition, feature-length minority co-production, When the Light Breaks, directed by Icelandic director and writer Rúnar Rúnarsson to appear in the competition programme Un Certain Regard. The film’s Croatian co-producer is Igor A. Nola (MP Film Production). 

“For five years, we worked on making one of the most difficult war stories of the 1990s into a film. In collaboration with Nebojša, who has once again demonstrated that he is one of the most influential Croatian filmmakers of today, an amazing cast, masterful crew, and dedicated co-producers, we believe we have succeeded in making the film that we wanted. We need to thank everyone who participated in the film’s making and everyone who supported us. Entering the running for a Cannes Palme d'Or is a huge recognition for all of us, as well as for Croatian filmmaking”, said the producer of The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent, Danijel Pek

Based on real-life events, the script is penned by Nebojša Slijepčević. The cast is headed up by Goran Bogdan, along with Alexis Manenti, Dragan Mićanović, Silvio Mumelaš, Lara Nekić, Priska Ugrina, Dušan Gojić, Nebojša Pop Tasić, Mijo Pavelko, Martin Kuhar, Jakov Zovko and Robert Ugrina.

The film follows a passenger train traveling from Belgrade in Serbia to Bar in Montenegro. The train is stopped by armed Serbian paramilitary forces at a small station in Štrpci in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Having received a tip off that there are Muslim passengers on the train, they found 19 of them, took them off the train, and executed them shortly after the train departed. About 500 passengers witnessed the event, but no one dared to stand up to them, except for one man, a retired military officer Tomo Buzov, on his way to visit his son.

The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent is produced by company Antitalent, with producers Katarina Prpić and Danijel Pek. Co-producers are Katya Trichkova for Bulgarian Contrast Films, Noëlle Lévénez for Les Films Norfolk from France, and Boštjan Virc for Virc Studio from Slovenia. The film was created with support funds of the Croatian Film Centre, while its sales representative is French company Manifest. 

Nebojša Slijepčević’s fiction short is only the second Croatian film since Croatia’s independence to be selected for screening in the main Cannes competition, or in the Short Film Competition. Before this, the only Croatian title to find itself in this programme was Ciao Mama directed by Goran Odvorčić (Propeler Film) in 2009. 

There are 11 titles competing in this year’s official Short Film selection, while one of the short films jury members is Vladimir Perišić whose fiction feature Lost Country, created in co-production with Croatia (Ankica Jurić Tilić, Kinorama), in 2023 also screened in Cannes, at the parallel festival section, Semaine de la Critique. The same programme last year also featured the world premiere of fiction short The Real Truth about the Fight directed and written by Andrea Slaviček, with producer Katarina Prpić (Antitalent).

When the Light Breaks opening Un Certain Regard

In addition, Icelandic director and writer Rúnar Rúnarsson’s fiction feature When the Light Breaks will inaugurate the competition programme Un Certain Regard, screening on Wednesday, 15th May, at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.  

The film was co-produced by Croatian company MP Film Production, having received support, among others, from the Croatian Audiovisual Centre. Its Croatian co-producer is Igor A. Nola, with French company The Party Film Sales as sales rep. 

“This is my third time working with director Rúnar Rúnarsson. We first collaborated on his feature ‘Sparrows’, which was also supported by HAVC, followed by ‘Echo’, which we supported independently as MP Film Production, while his third feature is now opening Un Certain Regard. This is an exceptional honour for Croatian cinema and my colleagues who’ve worked on the film,”, said Nola on the occasion. 

When the Light Breaks is a story about Una, a young student who encounters love, friendship sorrow and beauty from one sunset until same time the next day.  

Details about the films screening at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, held 15th – 24th May, can be found here.

Cover photograph: visual from The Man Who Could Not Remain Silent 

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