I was not prepared for FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR
Bay Area Casting News
by Nina Hauptman
FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR
CINEQUEST Film Festival
I was not prepared for FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR. Honestly, I'm not sure it is possible to prepare one's self for documentaries such as these. Like most Americans, I was unaware of the full extent of terror that has plagued Croatia for the past 50 years or so, and certainly had never heard detailed personal accounts of living through it. Whether or not the Yugoslavian government was torturing and murdering Croatians in the name of Communism or Democracy (obviously skewering both ideologies), the stories of torture and concentration camps rival those of the Holocaust in their atrocity, if not in their numbers.
FREEDOM tells many tales of horror experienced in Yugoslavia-controlled Croatia, using interviews as well as stock footage and recreations to paint a picture of the oppressive lifestyle endured by the native people. While giving a broad picture, the film also closely follows the life of a man named Kruno Brkusic. After being repeatedly abused and persecuted by the government (he was imprisoned at the age of five!), Kruno finally made it to Italy where he was recruited from his refugee camp into the US army. Although he had managed to escape physically, his thoughts never strayed from his homeland and thus Kruno has spent his life fighting for the freedom of his people. He never thought that the battle would last as long as it did, but is now thankful that things are finally improving over there.
Almost as shocking as the carnage is the seeming indifference of the rest of the world. Though the Yugoslavian government tried its best to present a humanitarian front by hiding it's actions from the media, neither America nor the rest of the world can claim that it was unaware of what was happening. In fact, tens of thousands of Croatian refugees protested in front of the White House, receiving no media coverage whatsoever. As President Bush was invading Iraq on the pretense of preserving freedom in Kuwait, Croatians continued to suffer a fate even worse than those in the Middle East. However, there was no monetary incentive for the United States to place sanctions on the Yugoslavian government, so nothing was done.
This documentary is exceptionally well-crafted, giving a detailed account of both the situation in Croatia and the political mood in the U.S. at the time. Several American political figures were interviewed, including Congressman Dennis Kucinich. I strongly recommend this film to anyone who is ignorant of the full extent of the "ethnic cleansing" in Croatia, and I have a feeling that includes the majority of U.S. citizens.
The Viewer's Voice Award at the Cinequest Film Festival &
The Golden Reel Award for Best Student Film at the Tiburon International Film Festival.
I am grateful to the Freedom from Despair team and to these festivals for honoring the film.
Pasted at the end of this email is a great review of the film that was done by the Bay Area News after Cinequest. The film was also mentioned on Film Threat for being a Viewer's Voice Winner -http://www.filmthreat.com/FilmFestivals.asp?Id=1697 .
Thanks for your continuous hard work and hope you are all well.
www.freedomfromdespair.com - update in progress!