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Croatian Film-Makers Lobby Against Political Interference

Press releases 2017-02-21

Müller Hall, in Kino Europa (Cinema Europa), was packed on Monday with supporters of the initiative Puk’o nam je film (Croatian slang for ‘We’ve Had Enough’). The aim of the initiative is to protect Croatian cinematography from political influence and control. The initiative is a result of the negative audit conducted by the Croatian State Audit, leading to the resignation of long-time Croatian Audiovisual Centre director Hrvoje Hribar. The goals and key points of the initiative presented by Antonio Nuić, Dana Budisavljević, Nora Krstulović, Goran Navojec and Tamara Babun, highlight the importance of the independence of Croatian film, preserving the autonomy of the existing Croatian audiovisual model and continuity of current practices.

“The independence of cinematography from political pressure is a civilizational achievement and something that the Constitution and numerous European regulations bind the Republic of Croatia to. Cinematographic autonomy is the foundation of its success. The idea that ministers approve or deny financing for film production is absolutely unacceptable on many counts, mostly common sense, because why did the Ministry of Culture even establish the HAVC (Croatian Audiovisual Centre)?” said film director Antonio Nuić.

Producer and film director Dana Budisavljević addressed the part of the Croatian State Audit report that concerns the financial audit of the HAVC. “Within the HAVC system, after nine years, over a 1000 films made, and hundreds of festivals, the State Audit declared that it was all illegal. The report states that the HAVC is breaking the law because funding over 200,000 HRK should be signed off by the Culture Minister. This, in effect, means that almost every film shot in Croatia has to be approved by the Minister. In a system created to separate film from the Ministry of Culture, in accordance with European regulations, after nine years, the Croatian State Audit is diminishing the very idea of autonomy, the very reason why the HAVC was established. Since the HAVC was founded, there have been six different ministers, four meetings of the board of directors, and four directors of the HAVC, and they all functioned in the same way, the way the founder, the Ministry of Culture, had intended, though the State Audit claims otherwise.”

“We, stage and theatre directors, were overwhelmed to have an institution like the HAVC. The model upon which the HAVC functions has its flaws, as does any system controlled by people, but no other institution in Croatia has achieved the results the HAVC has,” said Nora Krstulović, stage director and Editor-in-Chief of teatar.hr.

“Nowhere in the EU do culture ministers sign off on films because it is an unacceptable form of censure and political control. This doesn’t happen anywhere else – from a total of 31 film funds in Europe, not one is controlled by the state, they are all completely independent from political influence,” said actor Goran Navojec, noting that the auditors are in no way competent to assess how, and in what way, approved projects contribute to Croatian cultural development.

In her closing statement, producer Tamara Babun, on behalf of younger generations of filmmakers, asked Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for protection. “From the moment the HAVC was founded to this day, more than a hundred young people have received funding for their film and festival projects in various phases of development and production. My colleagues from the Academy, Nevio Marasović, Čejen Černić, Jure Pavlović, Tiha Gudac, Antoneta Kusijanović, Luka Rukavina, and many others, who studied alongside myself just before the Centre opened, at the time did not think we would have the opportunities we received in this profession, nor the chance to complete our projects through international cooperation. At a time when so many qualified young people are leaving the country in order to find better opportunities elsewhere, I believe that it is crucial to Croatia that we are given the chance for further professional development in our homeland, in our language, among our people, free from politics and scheming. Therefore, honoured Prime Minister, please consider us, we need your protection.”

Over 200 leading Croatian film and culture professionals gathered at Cinema Europa in order to publicly support this initiative. To date, more than 600 people have signed the initiative’s manifesto.