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Catalina Review

FIPRESCI Warsaw Critics Project 2017 2017-10-23


Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, 2017
Director: Denijal Hasanovic
98 min.

Denijal Hasanović’s debut feature Catalina, screening in the 1-2 Competition at the 33rd Warsaw Film Festival, tells the story of an eponymous Colombian girl (Andrea Otalvaro), who after failing to extend her visa in France, moves to Sarajevo to work on a project related to the Yugoslavian War Crimes Tribunal. She believes this study will help her get a job and legal residence at her university in Paris. In Bosnia and Herzegovina she meets interpreter Nada (Lana Barić) and her married lover Marek (Andrzej Chyra), whose lives have also been affected by wars. Denied access to the Sarajevo Mission’s archive, Catalina stays at Nada’s place, while trying to figure out her life again, and the two become friends. Just like Nada and Marek, Catalina has dealt with war in her home country and feels alienated.

Hasanović, who moved to Poland from Bosnia in the 1990s, has previously shared writing credits on Polish film Retrieval (2006) and the Icelandic drama Thicker Than Water (2006). Catalina, a Polish-Bosnian-Croatian co-production, tells a story of three emigrants, who all live with war traumas to some extent, despite coming from different countries and cultural backgrounds. All outcasts, these characters form an interesting kind of bond, helping each other out in unexpected ways. The film starts with Catalina being thoroughly checked for contraband at the airport. We feel the humiliation of the procedure. After the scene, though the audience might expect Hasanović to proceed with such overtly political issues, but he leads the story into another direction and avoids these aspects, instead concentrating on the relationships between his characters.

At one point in the film, Nada asks Catalina: “Why war crimes? Nobody’s interested in them anymore.” And Hasanović, as director, presents an involving study not so much of such crimes as their long-term consequences. However, Catalina is not a deep treatment of its subject, but a slice of an emigrant’s struggling life. Hasanović, perhaps intentionally, avoids giving the audience more context. We never fully find out Catalina’s and Marek’s backgrounds, unlike with Nada.

Newcomer Andrea Otalvaro is credible and easily arouses empathy among the viewers as naïve Catalina. But it is Lana Barić’s Nada who truly steals the movie. The Croatian actress expresses a wider range of emotions and her heroine is strong and vulnerable, rough and compassionate at the same time. The picture might have also been called Catalina and Nada, as the female characters are equally developed, and it is their relationship that lies at the core of the film and moves the story forward. Andrzej Chyra doesn’t get as much time as his colleagues but has his moments in few, but important scenes. As Nada’s mother, Serbian actress Mirjana Karanović proves once again that some actors don’t really need much screen time to demonstrate their greatness.


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FIPRESCI Young Critics Warsaw Project

Monika Gimbutaitė, Lithuania
Monika Gimbutaitė, born in 1993 in Lithuania, graduated from Vilnius Academy of Arts, Art Theory and History programme. For three and a half years she held the position of a programme coordinator at European Film Forum Scanorama. She is currently working as culture journalist for, the second biggest news website in Lithuania.

Alexander Gabelia, Georgia
Georgian film journalist and activist. He's a political refugee from Abkhazia. Alexander studied history of cinema and Cinematography at Ilia State University. He writes about cinema and culture in various prints and online outlets including LIBERALI.GE, AHA.GE and he’s a cinema reviewer for on-line magazine – He’s been also involved into Tbilisi International Film Festival and Cinedoc Tblisi.
Arman Fatić, BosniaArman Fatić is Bosnian film critic/journalist currently based in Maribor, Slovenia where he is studying philosophy at Faculty of Arts Maribor. He is a writer for several websites/magazines across balkans some of which are, and His main fields of interest as a film critic are society problems in general and philosophical/religious symbolism in movies. 

Jakub Wanat, Poland
Film-lover, cinema-goer, festival-fanatic. Both cinema and writing are my biggest passions, so I decided to combine them, which basically means I killed two birds with one stone.  It all started with MAGIEL, Poland's biggest students' magazine, where for almost two years I was the head of the film column. I was chosen as a Polish representative in the Venice Days jury at the 2017 Venice Film Festival. I'm also the LUX prize ambassador and a proud member of the Scope100 project. I had a chance to write for Cineuropa, naEkranie and regularly for my blog. I'm studying both e-business and film studies, also having some time to work at a Polish start-up. 

Mikhail Morkin, Russia
Moscow-based film journalist. He is a chief editor and critic for His work has appeared in The Hollywood Reporter Russia, RussoRosso and Film Sense. He also worked as programmer assistant at 2morrow Film Festival. Born in Moscow in 1991, he holds a specialist’s degree in Linguistics from MSPU and is currently studying for master’s degree in Transmedia Production from HSE.

Mina Stanikic, Serbia
24 year old film and theatre critic based in Novi Sad, Serbia. Although finishing medicine studies, she took up career as a cultural journalist, starting in Kultur!Kokoška, a culture-dedicated web magazine, slowly becoming focused on film and theatre criticism. Her articles have been published in various cultural magazines, mostly in Serbian language. Mina is alumna of 11th Talents Sarajevo, where she took part in Talent Press program, writing and publishing in English. In film criticism, she has particular interest in debut films, and the following transition from short to feature filmmaking.  Mina works as a PR for the Film Front, International short film festival in Novi Sad, Serbia. 

Romanita Alexeev, Moldova
Romanița’s relationship with the film world isn’t limited to her fascination for it. It also extends to her fascination with other people’s fascination for it. She has started her journey in this industry by studying film production and acting at the University of Salford, United Kingdom. Later on, she returned to her home-country, Moldova, where, at the present moment, is directing and an online/tv series about Moldovan film industry.