Thursday, August 28, 2003

Venice 60 Years Ago

Venice Film Festival celebrates its 60th anniversary. Croatian commentators note that there aren't any Croatian films competing for the prizes this year.

Well, some 60 years this wasn't the case. On the very first Venice Film Festival, Croatian cinema won its first major international award. Straža na Drini (Watch on the Drina), film directed by Branko Marjanović (Branko Marjanovic), got the Best Documentary award. The movie showed brave Black Legion, Ustashas, Home Guards and other Croatian military and paramilitary formations defending the eastern borders of Croatia (at time including today's Bosnia) from the Serb and Communist bandits and thus helping the cause of their German and Italian black-clad brothers in arms. I haven't watched the film, but the footage (some genuine, some staged) was subsequently used in former Yugoslav feature films and documentaries covering "Ustasha atrocities" during "People's Liberation War" 1941-45.

Interestingly enough, Marjanović continued his filmmaking career under Tito and made some feature films about Partisans fighting Ustasha.

Ten years ago, when Tudjman was around, newspapers, magazines and television were all over 50th anniversary of Venice and celebrated Marjanović's triumph as the "first instance of Croatia entered international arena as cultural power". Nowadays, with Tudjman gone, nobody mentions that anecdote.


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