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(E) Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and now Brenda Brkusic wins CINE
By Nenad N. Bach | Published  06/25/2005 | Awards | Unrated
(E) Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and now Brenda Brkusic wins CINE

Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and now firstCroatian,


24-Year-Old Local Filmmaker Wins Prestigious

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brenda Brkusic

Los Angeles: CINE is pleased to announce that FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR, a film produced, directed, and edited by 24-year-old BRENDA BRKUSIC has won a prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. The CINE Golden Eagle Awards, distinguishing excellence in professional and amateur works, are recognized internationally as symbols of the highest production standards in filmmaking and videography. CINE has, since its founding in 1957, been dedicated to discovering, rewarding, educating, and supporting established and emerging talent in film and video. Among great talents whose first major awards included the CINE Golden Eagle, are Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, and such great documentarians as Ken Burns, Charles Guggenheim, Stanley Nelson, and Frederick Wiseman.

In the Spring 2005 Competition, over 300 judges viewed and evaluated hundreds of distinguished entries. Experienced professionals in the field of film and video production, as well as subject matter experts, serve in a volunteer capacity. They judge the entries using standards of overall excellence, evaluating such criteria as writing, sound, editing, creativity, visuals, insights, and the extent to which the film meets its stated goals and communicates with its intended audience.

CINE conducts two competitions each year, and the current one began in February 2005. In addition to the Golden Eagle awards, CINE has established two levels of competitive awards. All of the competitive awards will be presented at the Annual CINE Awards Ceremony, to be held in Washington, DC in April 2006. Prizes and awards worth over $25,000 are associated with these awards.

BRENDA BRKUSIC started creating her award winning film FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR when she was just 21 years old and a full time college student attending Chapman University. Winner of the Best Documentary Award at the New York International Independent Film Festival, the Viewer’s Voice Award at the Cinequest Film Festival, the Golden Reel Award at the Tiburon International Film Festival, and now the CINE Golden Eagle Award, FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR is a riveting, feature-length documentary that introduces us to a 20th Century freedom fighter – who happens to be Brkusic’s father.

Having risked his life to flee on foot to Italy from a Yugoslav regime that punished independent thought and suppressed Croatian culture, Kruno Brkusic made his way to America in 1957 to make his dream of a free life a reality. However, almost forty years later, as he sees his homeland ravaged by war during the dissolution of Yugoslavia, he raises his voice to defend his people’s freedom. His courageous journey takes him from street demonstrations to the bastions of mainstream media and to the halls of Congress, to challenge a President and alert the world to the massacre allowed to take place while the world looked the other way; and America, his adopted land of freedom, supported the tyranny of two of the world’s bloodiest dictators, Josip Broz Tito and Slobodan Milosevic. Through testimonies from expert eye-witnesses, the film examines the role the Communist government of Yugoslavia and their foreign allies had in allowing the slaughter of more than 250,000 people in the Croatia and later Bosnia-Herzegovina. By revealing that which was never shown in the American mainstream media, the filmmaker pieces together a shocking world that lay silenced with a generation of survivors for the past 50 years. In this celebration of culture, democracy, and the strength of the human spirit, we see Kruno Brkusic’s work help heal a nation, with courage, faith, and an overwhelming desire to fight for FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR.

With stirring archival footage, narrative recreations, moving interviews including 2004 Presidential Candidate Congressman Dennis Kucinich, narration by actor John Savage (CANRIVALE, THE DEER HUNTER), voice-overs by Michael York (AUSTIN POWERS, CABARET) and Beata Pozniak (JAG, Oliver Stone’s JFK), Brenda Brkusic has made a film that has won awards at many film festivals as it touches and inspire audiences everywhere it plays.

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