The most important awards for the Croatian cinema in 2017 were: the Grand Prix of the national competition at the Pula Film Festival won by The Brief Excursion directed by Igor Bezinovic and produced by Studio Pangolin, the three main prizes (best film, best screenplay and best performance) received by Rajko Grlic’s The Constitution at the 2017 London Raindance Film Festival, the Special Mention in the Generation Kplus programme of the Berlinale and the Young Audience Award at the 41st Annecy International Animation Film Festival for Hedgehog’s Home by Eva Cvijanović and also the jury award of the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of North Rhine-Westphalia for The Just Come and Go by Boris Poljak and the Youth Jury award for Into the Blue by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović at the 63rd International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen.
Important awards were also received by minority Croatian coproductions, Dede by Mariam Khatchvani and Men Don’t Cry by Alen Drljević.
Hana Jušić’s debut feature Quit Staring at My Plate was chosen to represent Croatia in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 90th Academy Awards 2018.
In 2017, Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović became the first Croatian selected for the Cinéfondation residency in Cannes, where she developed her first feature film Murina (produced by Spritus Movens).
Total admissions increased by 2.93 percent in 2017. Admissions to domestic films decreased by 10.49 percent.
The list of Croatian films shot in 2017 includes projects by well-known directors as well as debut features of various genres. Most of them are supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre.
Antun Vrdoljak’s anticipated The General / General, starring Goran Višnjić as the hero of the Croatian War of Independence Ante Gotovina, started shooting in Croatia in February 2017. The project includes a feature film and also an eight-episode series, and it is a Croatian/Bosnian coproduction between Kiklop film and Oktavijan.
The acclaimed writer/director Veljko Bulajic shot Escape to the Sea in 2017. The film stars the German actor Tom Wlaschiha and is a coproduction between Croatia’s Gral Film, Montenegro’s Dogma Studio and Macedonia’s Geyzer Production.
The children's film My Grandpa is an Alien / Moj dida je pao s Marsa by Drazen Zarkovic and Marina Andree Skop was filmed in 2017 as a Croatian/Luxembourg/Norwegian/Czech/Slovenian/Bosnian coproduction produced by Studio Dim.
Writer/director Bobo Jelčić also shot All Alone / Sam samcat, a social drama about a divorced father, produced by Croatia’s Spiritus Movens Production in coproduction with Dokument Sarajevo from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, that supported it through its newly founded Montenegrin Film Centre.
Deep Cuts, an omnibus film about violence, directed by Filip Peruzović, Filip Mojzeš and Dubravka Turić, was also in production in 2017.
One of the most awaited debut features in 2018 is Awakenings / Samo zatvori oci by Jure Pavlović. Pavlović (who won the European Film Academy Award for the Best European short film for Picnic in 2015), produced through the Croatian company Sekvenca in coproduction with Slovenia’s Vertigo, Germany’s Monokel, Serbia’s Baš čelik and Novi Film from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Writer/director Barbara Vekarić also shot her debut feature Aleksi in 2017. This coming-of-age story is produced by Croatia’s Studio Dim in coproduction with Serbia’s FilmKombajn and Croatia's Motion.
Also shot in 2017 were Na zapadu, directed by Sara Hribar and Marko Šantić, and produced by Sekvenca d.o.o., Dom, directed by Dario Pleić and produced by Sekvenca d.o.o., and For Good All Times by Eduard Galić, produced by Missart.
Actress/producer Marija Ratkovic Vidakovic penned, produced and co-directed together with Dinka Radonic her first film, the autobiographical documentary In Search of a Lost Country / U potrazi za izgubljenom državom (working title). Shooting started in 2015 and wrapped in 2017. Marija Ratkovic Vidakovic is producing through the Croatian Film Association.
Dana Budisavljević continued in 2017 the production on Diana’s List, a documentary–fiction film about a distant kin, who was the greatest unheralded rescuer of children during WWII. Hulahop is producing.
Eleven projects applied for tax incentives in Croatia in 2017. According to the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the local expenditure was almost 25.4 m EUR.
In 2015 ten international productions applied for incentives with a cumulative local expenditure of approximately 20.5 m EUR. In 2016 seven international productions had a local expenditure of nearly 10 m EUR. Through the incentives programme, 34 projects were filmed in Croatia between 2012 and 2016, with local spending of almost 54 m EUR / 400 m HRK.
Among the projects that applied for incentives in 2017 are: the BBC One series McMafia directed by James Watkins (serviced by MP Film Production) and the 10-part AMC series The Terror directed by David Kajganich and Soo Hugh, produced by Ridley Scott and serviced by Embassy Film, as well as Robin Hood by Otto Bathurst (with Pakt Media servicing) and The Guardian Angel by Arto Halonen, with MP Film Production coproducing.
Also benefiting from the tax incentives scheme in 2017 were Ol Parker’s Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Universal Pictures’ sequel to its 2008 hit musical, which was shot in Croatia for 24 days (the film was serviced by Pakt Media), the Dutch/Belgian/Croatian coproduction Rafael by Ben Sombogaart with Croatia’s Nukleus film as minority coproducer, the Danish feature film Lifeboat, directed by Josefine Kirkeskov and coproduced by Croatia’s MP Films, the TV series Kiss Me First and the feature film Ibiza, directed by Alex Richanbach.
The White Crow, a film focusing on the Russian ballet dancer and choreographer Rudolf Nureyev and directed by Ralph Fiennes, was shot in Croatia in 2017, as well as Intrigo: Death of an Author directed by Daniel Alfredson, and also Pawel Pawlikowski’s Cold War / Zimna Wojna shot in Croatia for a few days.
”Just the fact that Croatian cities can play the roles of major global metropolises as well as themselves, shows that the local infrastructure and local communities are ready to offer all that is necessary for top quality productions at the highest level", Daniel Rafaelić, director of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) said in a statement.
In 2017 Filming Europe - European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN) placed two locations in Croatia, Dubrovnik and Kaštel Gomilica (Kaštilac), on its list of the 11 most beautiful European locations of the decade, competing for a European Film Location Award.
A total of 228 films were distributed in cinemas in 2017, of which 210 were new openings. Sixteen domestic films were released in 2017, including 13 new releases and three films released in 2016.
The biggest domestic distributor is Blitz, followed by Continental Film.
The Constitution / Ustav Republike Hrvatske by the acclaimed Croatian director Rajko Grlic was picked up for US Distribution by Synergetic and was released theatrically in 2017.
In 2017 the ,Croatian TV series Rest in Peace expanded onto the American market as a ‘Walter Presents’ project, a partnership between Channel 4 and the British firm Global Series Network, which bought the UK rights. Rest in Peace, which was developed with the support of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and produced by Ring Productions for the Croatian Radio Television (HRT), was acquired by the Belgian Flemish Radio and Television (VRT) in 2015, becoming the first series developed by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre to be broadcast in Western Europe. The series created by Dario Vince and Koraljka Meštrović was also the first Croatian series to be sold to the U.S. at the beginning of 2014, when Lionsgate bought remake rights.
The High Sun by Dalibor Matanić was released in Spain by Surtsey Films in February 2017. Matanić’s film had its world premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard section, has been screened at more than 100 international festivals and won 30 awards. In its first year of screening it was sold by Cercamon to over 30 countries and in 2017 it was distributed in the United States and China. The film is a Croatian/Serbian/Slovenian coproduction between Kinorama, SEE Film Pro and Gustav Film.
The most important awards for the Croatian cinema in 2017 were: the Grand Prix of the national competition at the Pula Film Festival won by The Brief Excursion directed by Igor Bezinovic and produced by Studio Pangolin, after its premiere in Rotterdam; the three main prizes (best film, best screenplay and best performance) received by Rajko Grlic’s The Constitution at the 2017 London Raindance Film Festival; the Special Mention in the Generation Kplus programme of the Berlinale and the Young Audience Award at the 41st Annecy International Animation Film Festival for Hedgehog’s Home by Eva Cvijanović; the jury award of the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of North Rhine-Westphalia for The Just Come and Go by Boris Poljak and the Youth Jury award for Into the Blue by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović at the 63rd International Short Film Festival in Oberhausen; the Heart of Sarajevo for best short film received by Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s Into the Blue and the Special Mention received by Zdenko Jurilj for his documentary Home at the 23rd Sarajevo Film Festival.
Also the Croatian minority coproduction Dede by Mariam Khatchvani won the Special Jury Mention in the East of the West programme at the 52nd Karlovy Vary IFF, while the minority Croatian coproduction Men Don’t Cry by Alen Drljević won the Europa Cinemas Label and the Young Audience Award at the 23rd Sarajevo FF and a Special Jury Mention in Karlovy Vary.
The Sarajevo Film Festival Partners’ Award went to another Croatian minority coproduction, When Pigs Come by Biljana Tuturov (coproduced by Croatia’s Kinematograf). The minority coproduction In Praise of Nothing, directed by Boris Mitrović and coproduced by Anti-Apsurd, premiered in Locarno.
The documentary My Life Without Air by Bojana Burnać premiered at HotDocs and was in the documentary competition in Karlovy Vary.
Toma Waszarow’s Red Light (a Croatian minority coproduction) won the Audience Award at the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival.
Hana Jušić’s debut feature Quit Staring at My Plate was chosen to represent Croatia in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 90th Academy Awards 2018. The film is the first Croatian/Danish coproduction between Kinorama, the Croatian Television and Beofilm.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
In March 2017 Blitz-Cinestar opened its 13th multiplex in Croatia, the Kaptol Boutique Cinema & Bar in Zagreb, the first laser cinema in the region. In December 2017 Blitz-Cinestar opened CineStar 4DX Mall, its14th multiplex in Croatia, its second multiplex opened in Split, the largest in the Dalmatia region. Blitz-CineStar is the largest and most successful exhibition company in ex-Yugoslavia.
In 2017 total admissions were 4,637,287 and total gross 18,398,215 EUR / 136,778,122 HRK, according to estimates provided by Continental Film.
The most popular Croatian films in 2017 were: The Mystery of Green Hill / Uzbuna na Zelenom Vrhu by director Cejen Cernic , produced by Kinorama and distributed by 2iFilm, with 68,642 admissions, Anka by Dejan Aćimović , produced by DA Film and distributed by Blitz Film&Video, with 30,885 admissions, and Neparožderi by Galina Miklinova, produced by Filmosaurus Rex and released by Blitz Film&Video, with 15,764 admissions.
Total admissions top ten 2017 is composed of: Despicable Me 3 (with 162,554 admissions), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (132,540 admissions), Fast &Furious 8 (125,334 admissions), Fifty Shades Darker (116,810 admissions), Boss Baby (107,813 admissions), It (107,032 admissions), Wonder (99,163 admissions), Smurfs: The Lost Village (85,989 admissions), La La Land (85,388 admissions), Thor: Ragnarok (79,778 admissions).
In 2016 the most watched Croatian film in the cinemas was Igor Šeregi’s ZG80 (Kinoteka) with 65,685 admissions.
Total admissions increased by 2.93 percent from 4,505,139 in 2016 to 4,637,287 in 2017, according to the estimations made by Continental Film.
Admissions to domestic films decreased by 10.49 percent from 147,205 admissions in 2016 (including minority coproductions) to 133,219 in 2017 (including the three films released in 2016 and still in distribution in 2017).
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
The most important film institution is the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), founded in January 2008. HAVC operated with a total annual budget of 9.11 m EUR in 2012, a total budget of 9.30 m EUR in 2013, of 9.03 m EUR in 2014 and 7.99 m EUR in 2015. HAVC’s total budget for 2016 was 8.67 m EUR and 10.15 m EUR in 2017.
The Board of HAVC reappointed Hrvoje Hribar as Chief Executive for a second four-year term beginning in December 2014, but on 6 February 2017 Hribar handed in his resignation due to the negative audit conducted by the Croatian State Audit. As a result, representatives of the Croatian Film Director's Guild and the Croatian Producers Association launched the initiative We’ve Had Enough / Puk’o nam je, aimed at protecting Croatian cinema from political influence and control. The Federation of European Film Directors and the Association of European Film Agency Directors (EFADs) supported the initiative and praised Hrvoje Hribar’s contribution to Croatian and European film.
In February 2017 Daniel Rafaelić was named acting director and in May 2017 the director of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre for a four year term. Rafaelić told FNE: “One of my main tasks is to strengthen the Croatian Audiovisual Centre as an institution with a clear policy for the state fund management. It is relevant for Croatian film to be autonomous within the guidelines of the National Programme. The battle against piracy and the promotion of Croatian films abroad are also in the forefront of HAVC's work much more now than before.”
In May 2017 a total of 1,615,161 EUR / 12,004,100 HRK was distributed by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre as production grants and minority coproductions grants, and also for script and project development. Production grants were allotted to 17 projects including feature films, short films, long and short documentaries, animated films and experimental films. From among 17 applications for minority coproduction grants only two projects were selected – the feature film God Exists, Her Name is Petrunija by Teona Strugar Mitevska and the documentary Am Ziel by Želimir Žilnik.
In July 2017 the Croatian Audiovisual Centre allotted 118,730 EUR / 880,000 HRK to two feature films and one short film.
In October the Croatian Audiovisual Centre distributed 452,116 EUR / 3,395,000 HRK as production grants for minority coproductions, and script development and project development support for TV productions. Seven Croatian minority coproductions received 326,269 EUR / 2,450,000 HRK. HAVC also allotted 63,256 EUR / 475,000 HRK for the script development of 20 fiction, documentary and animated TV projects (series or independent works), while 62,590 EUR / 470,000 HRK went to the project development of 11 fiction, documentary and animated TV projects (series or independent works).
A total of 45 foreign productions have used the tax incentives scheme since its launch in 2012: five in 2012, four in 2013, eight in 2014, ten in 2015, seven in 2016 and 11 in 2017.
Under the cash rebate scheme, projects can claim back 20% of their qualifying expenditure, which is based on the cost of the Croatian cast and crew working in Croatia, as well as goods and services purchased in Croatia, with a cap of around 2.6m EUR per project.
The Istria Film Commission was launched in July 2015, following the example of the Zadar Film Commission in helping filming crews in location scouting, communication with public authorities and domestic producers and crew, obtaining filming permits and accessing databases. A new film commission, Kvarner Film Commission, opened in Rijeka in 2017.
Additional public support bodies are the Zagreb City Office for Education, Culture and Sport and the Rijeka City Office for Culture.
As stipulated by the 2007 Croatian Film Act, Croatian public broadcaster, the Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT), as well as all other Croatian broadcasters with a national concession (Nova TV, RTL) are obliged to contribute towards the funding of the HAVC in the form of a mandatory contribution.
As a public broadcaster, the Croatian Radiotelevision plays an important role in the promotion of national cinema through its two terrestrial and two digital channels, and is legally obliged to invest a minimum of 15% of its programming budget in works by independent producers.
In April 2017, the Croatian TV project Uspjeh by Marjan Alčevski was selected for development by HBO Europe from its HBO Adria First Draft Contest for original drama, out of more than 500 entries.
Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC)
Nova Ves 18
10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: +385 (0)1 6041 080
Fax: +385 (0)1 4667 819
MEDIA Desk Croatia
Ulica Kralja Zvonimira 20
10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: +385 (0)1 4655 434
Fax: +385 (0)1 4655 442
Ministry of Culture- Directorate for Performing Arts and Audiovisual Affairs
10 000 Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: +385 (0)1 4866 408
Fax: +385 (0)1 4866 438
Report by Iulia Blaga
Sources: the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Continental Film