Croatian film Armin represented at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival
By Katarina Tepesh
New York, May 6, 2007 - For the second year, the Republic of Croatia was represented at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival with a feature film, Armin, by director and screenwriter, Ognjen Svilicic. The annual festival helps to showcase the talent, diversity and stories of outstanding filmmakers from around the globe. Responding to a casting call from a German film company looking for child actors for a film about the Balkan conflict, Ibro, played by excellent actor Emir Hadzihafizbegovic, takes his 13-year old son, Armin, played by Armin Omerovic, from their small village with unpaved road in Bosnia & Herzegovina to Zagreb, Croatia. Confident that his boy will get the part, Ibro considers the trip a promise of better times to come.
Arriving at the cold, modern hotel in Zagreb, however, they are faced with a world that is totally foreign to them, even though they have traveled only a few hundred kilometers from home. Armin, taciturn but perceptive, seems ambivalent about his prospects from the start, but Ibro maintains an obstinately pushy approach that constantly embarrasses his son and is totally at odds with the smooth efficiency of the productions company's operations. When Armin catches the attention of the German director because of a strange health condition he has, like epilepsy seizure - an oblique allusion to the legacy of the war in the former Yugoslavia - Ibro faces a difficult choice in how to proceed with his ambitions for his son's acting career. Director Svilicic focuses on small gestures and glances, and gently develops sympathy for the morose pair as they uneasily navigate elevators, hallways and lounges. Their awkwardness in the sleek but impersonal spaces of the first-class hotel provide moments of subtle humor that accentuate their quiet disillusionment of not getting the part in the movie. However, German director offers Armin to sign up for a film about Armins health condition which father and son refused, considering it a private matter, not to be talked about. Armin is also the story of the beginning of a new relationship between father and son. www.armin-the-movie.com
The talented director with a bright future, Ognjen Svilicic, was born in Croatia in 1971. He graduated with a degree in film directing from the Academy of Drama Arts in Zagreb, and has gone on to make three feature-length motion pictures. His first, Wish I Were a Shark, was awarded the film critics' prize for Best Croatian Motion Picture at the national film festival in Pula in 2000, and subsequently became a box office hit. In 2004, his superb second feature, Sorry For Kung Fu, had its World Premiere at the 55th Berlin Film Festival and went on to play at 30 film festivals, picking up several international awards along the way. Director Svilicic answered several questions from the audience, including inquiries regarding great scenery in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Svilicic explained how the story of Armin was mostly true. He met the family while scouting for location and potential actors working for another Croatian film director. Americans wanted to know about the terrific actress Barbara Prpic who was perfect for the role of a sophisticated, totally professional interpreter. She switched easily among the languages of Croatian, German, and English. Among other Croatians, Nenad Bach attended with his family and asked about the cooperation of the international cast and about the background music.
The Tribeca Film Festival www.tribecafilmfestival.org
was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff as a response to the brutal attack on the World Trade Center. Rosenthal said, "We have attracted more than one million visitors to Lower Manhattan, helping to lift both the economy and the broken spirit of a neighborhood, while screening an incredible range of films from over 40 countries. This year, as we celebrate our sixth festival, we have the occasion to reflect upon our beginnings, celebrate our achievements, and remain true to our commitment to the community and our mission to bring filmmakers and their films to the widest possible audience." In celebration of the Festivals 6th anniversary, the Empire State Building was illuminated with signature festival colors. Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljić
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