LOS ANGELES SHOWINGS
FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR A SUCCESS!
Milan & Sonja Vukovic, Brenda Brkusic, son Vukovic, John Savage, Nenad Bach at the St. Anthony's Parish screening.
On Sunday, October 3, 2004 The Croatian National Association and St. Anthonyâ€™s Parish Center of Los Angeles sponsored a screening of Brenda Brkusicâ€™s acclaimed documentary film Freedom from Despair. Three hundred people participated in Catholic mass before attending the screening, which was the largest attendance the church has welcomed since Easter. After mass the Croatian childrenâ€™s school sold over 200 delicious, hot lunches to the guests for their own fundraiser. Milan Vukovic, the President of the Croatian National Association opened the event with remarks about the film and why the Croatian National Association found it important to help Ms. Brkusic with this fundraiser and other fundraisers around the country. Mr. Vukovic urged those who were touched by the film to contribute tax-deductible donations after the screening to help Ms. Brkusic with the film. Ms. Brkusic was then introduced on stage and gave an emotional speech about the making of the film, thanking many individuals for entering her life, supporting her dreams and helping to bring justice to those Croatians who suffered under communism and during the recent war. She said â€śyou all are strong, beautiful, wonderful people, and you truly deserve to have a film dedicated to you.â€?
The largest donation of one thousand dollars came from a young woman who said that the film meant a lot to her because her father had passed away two years ago. With tears in her eyes, she remarked â€śI wish I could donate more. Our parents passed their stories of suffering onto us and that feeling lives in us through them. Now we must pass it on to our children.â€? This filmâ€™s purpose is to do exactly that while also educating non-Croatians of the Croatian struggle.
The audience was so captivated by the film that you could hear a pin drop in the hall and viewers cried, laughed, and even clapped during the film. One woman of non-Croatian decent commented to Ms. Brkusic after the film, â€śIt was moving to be in the company of Croatians. I could feel their pain as your father and others told their story. It took great courage and perseverance to make such a powerful film.â€? Ms. Brkusic would like to thank all of those who graciously attended the screening, made donations and reserved copies of the film. The screening was so successful that the Croatian National Association and St. Anthonyâ€™s church held a second screening on October 17, 2004 to accommodate more viewers. Also in attendance for the October 17 screening were renowned actor John Savage from the academy award winning film Deer Hunter and narrator in Freedom From Despair, acclaimed musician and composer Nenad Bach from New York who wrote the film score for Freedom From Despair, as well as Croatian Counsel General Sanja Bujas Juraga from Los Angeles and Croatian Ambassador Neven Jurica from Washington D.C.
On October 10, actor John Savage and Brenda Brkusic attend the ARPA International Film Festival Awards Gala after the filmâ€™s screened in the festival. On hand were photographers from Variety and pictures of Brenda Brkusic and John Savage can been seen on CelbrityPhotos.com at the following link
as well as at Getty Images.com at
On October 13 filmmaker Brenda Brkusic screened Freedom from Despair at Marymount College after speaking to the students about leadership and filmmaking. The students and faculty were enthralled by the film, posing many questions after the seminar and the film. Marymount College President, Dr. Thomas McFadden commented, "the film showing was greatly enhanced by having the author/director present and willing to respond to questions at the conclusion of the film. She brought a personal commitment and involvement that supplied a strong emotional impact for all those in attendance. The viewers were clearly caught up in the drama of the documentary, and raised significant questions about the history presented as well as the process of producing such an important film with little financial backing. The college students in particular received an important lesson in history, but even more significantly an important lesson in dedication to a project and what can be accomplished through such dedication. I was thoroughly involved in the documentary, and came away with an increased admiration for the Croatian people and their struggles to overcome both a Communist regime and Serbian domination. The film reinforced my sense of the power of a people to preserve its culture and political autonomy."
On October 15 filmmaker Brenda Brkusic, actor John Savage, composer Nenad Bach and Milan Vukovic, president of the Croatian National Association attended Heather Mills McCartney and Paul McCartneyâ€™s gala Adopt-A-Minefield fundraiser at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, while the night before the Oct. 3 showing there was a pre-screening party at a local LA tavern organized by Croatian National Association Vice President, Vido Artukovic. Croatians and friends filled the tavern in celebration of the film where Brenda was able to meet guests from Florida and Australia who flew out to Los Angeles to see the film. The film, which has been accepted to top film festivals around the world including the Amnesty International Film Festival, has recently been named a finalist in the Anti-Defamation Leagueâ€™s Dore Schary Awards.
Screenings of the film have been confirmed for New York for Sunday, November 21, 2004 at the Croatian Church in Manhattan at 1:30 PM and for Windsor, Ontario for Sunday, December 12, 2004 at the Croatian Church in association with the parishâ€™s annual appreciation dinner. November and December screenings for Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis and Seattle are in the process of being confirmed. For more information or if you would like to assist with helping to promote or organize the film showing in your city or if you would like to make a donation to support the film, please visit www.freedomfromdespair.com or contact Milan Vukovic at 818-610-3388.