short films – Monte Carlo Film Festival Wed, 16 Mar 2022 16:55:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 short films – Monte Carlo Film Festival 32 32 ‘Murina’ Director Talks Career and Upcoming Projects Following Cannes Win Wed, 16 Mar 2022 16:55:03 +0000

A testament to her fearless nature and boundless determination, Croatian-American filmmaker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović was nine months pregnant when she traveled from New York to present her first feature film “Murina” at the Cannes Film Festival.

At the end of the festival, Kusijanović organizes a 12-hour road trip with her husband to her native Croatia, where she gave birth to her first child Petrus, just before winning the golden camera award at Cannes with “Murina”, a double feast. which earned her newborn son a lifetime festival credential.

Eight months later, she sat down with Variety to tell us how her life has changed since winning the coveted award and looks back on her journey to achieve it. Vibrant, luminous, restless and powerful like her debut feature “Murina”, Kusijanović wasted no time. She is already well advanced in her second release, a daring English-language film she co-wrote with Yinuo Wang (“90 Days”) and which she will shoot in Mexico. As with “Murina”, one of the dominant themes of her next project will be motherhood.

Recently acquired by Kino Lorber, “Murina” will bow at the opening night of the First Look Festival at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image on Wednesday. A tense and sensual coming-of-age tale, the film follows Julija (Gracija Filipovic), whose urge to break free from her oppressive father and isolated existence on the Croatian coast is sparked by a visit from a family friend. Filipovic also received critical acclaim with her performance and was one of the 10 Shooting Stars at that year’s Berlinale.

Kusijanović was signed by UTA on the heels of her Cannes win and began reading scripts, as well as making appointments with US studios and top producers for other projects.

Unlike many young writer-directors, Kusijanović has a solid background in production, having worked as a producer on numerous projects in Croatia. She has also gained extensive knowledge of the American film industry since moving to New York at the age of 22 and working for several film companies.

Martin Scorsese’s involvement as executive producer (via his Sikelia banner) on his first film underscores Kusijanović’s pedigree. His short film “Into the Blue” was nominated for a Student Academy Award and won awards at Berlin and Sarajevo, among other festivals.

Like her protagonist in “Murina”, Kusijanović grew up in Croatia with a desire to pursue her big dreams and knew that would not happen back home where she felt limited by patriarchal expectations. Although she always wanted to become a filmmaker, she assumed it was not an option even though she was a child actress in Croatia from the age of 6.

“There was no place for a woman to make films in Croatia when I was younger. Even now, after winning the Camera d’Or, people in Croatia say, ‘Who is she and where? did she learn directing and how come she can make films?” said Kusijanović. Although “Murina” was the first Croatian film to win a major international award at an recent history, he was not selected to represent the country in the race for the Oscars.

She continued acting until her late teens and graduated with a degree in production from the Zagreb Film Academy, where she produced many short films, TV formats and commercials. It wasn’t until she moved to New York and forged deep bonds within the local film community that she realized she had the ability to become a director within her.

Kusijanović’s first adventure in film began unexpectedly with a rodent. “Every day, on my way to school or to work, I saw a big puffy rat and I was very intrigued. I decided to produce a documentary about it and realized there was a war with the construction union and the non-unions, which was very comical,” she said.

As no one wanted to direct the documentary because “everyone was afraid of the construction union”, Kusijanović started shooting it herself but eventually had to abandon the project after being attacked and threatened by union members. “The police came to the scene and they said to me, ‘you are very young and beautiful’. And there are many other different things you can photograph, for example photographing the windows of Bergdorf Goodman or the flowers from Central Park,” she laughed.

From this strange and perilous experience, Kusijanović realized that she really wanted a direct film. “I showed my draft to a dear friend, Dylan Leiner (of Sony Pictures Classics), who said, ‘You’re a director. You should study directing,” and I took his advice and enrolled at Columbia where I got a master’s degree in screenwriting and directing.

Reflecting her dual nationality, Kusijanović combines the sensibility of a European auteur with the focused approach of an American filmmaker, giving her a competitive edge in gaining critical and commercial recognition.

“European directors often say that they don’t care about the audience, but I think that’s not true because if you don’t care about the audience, you can just write poetry, paint or do whatever what else doesn’t require millions of dollars and hundreds of people to support your vision,” she says.

“It’s important to have an audience in mind when you’re making a film – and every good European film does – because if you have an idea, an emotional state that you want to express, you want to make sure that other people can follow this.” and reach that emotional place,” she added.

A perfectionist at heart, Kusijanović also attaches great importance to the script to give his narration a solid base and a particular rhythm. “I don’t believe in the first idea. I always believe in rewriting an idea over and over again to find the essence of the first idea,” she said. For “Murina”, she wrote countless drafts and explored multiple variations of the story.

“As much as I allow improvisation, only structure can give me that confidence and precision to lead the audience and build the beat to convey the sensuality you see in the film,” the director said.

While making “Murina” at her home in Croatia, Kusijanović also experienced maturity as a feminist, coming face to face with what she described as “misogyny, chauvinism and violence” perpetrated by both men and women. women.

Still, Kusijanović said she didn’t make “Murina” “to attack men, politics or tourism, even though the film kind of does all of that”, but rather to “remind each of us of the resilience and faith in life you have as a boy or girl of 16. It was at this tender age that she got her first taste of life abroad, as a student exchange in a college in a sub-arctic region of French Canada “where it was -40 degrees Celsius every day”.

Another event that had a profound impact on her was a close encounter with war and death. She will always remember that day when she was with her family looking for a Christmas tree and they found themselves in the middle of a huge car explosion.

“We were in such close proximity to an explosion, almost in its bubble, strangely nothing happened to us but I don’t know how anyone survived that, because around us there was only a crater left in the ground, the person driving the other car was burned to the decapitated engine, it was really an image that will never leave me,” Kusijanović said.

She said that trauma defined her way of thinking about life and her work. “I won’t do any project or film if I don’t think it’s an important story to tell in the face of death,” she said, adding, however, that she “believes you can also find that in the work and adaptations of other people”. “as long as you have that ‘visceral connection’.

Is this the most pirated short film in the world? Mon, 14 Mar 2022 00:38:53 +0000

Could award-winning Australian-Greek director Kosta Nikas’ narrative short UTOPIA be the most pirated short film in the world?

There was a mad rush of netizens to translate and subtitle it into their own language; a phenomenon generally observed for feature films, not for short films!

Filmed in 2016 and released in 2019, Utopia was officially selected by Omeleto, one of the biggest platforms in the world, for its online world premiere in March 2021 where a year later, in March 2022, it recorded almost a million views.

Home to the next generation of great filmmakers: Sundance winners, Oscar nominees, and critically acclaimed filmmakers of all genres; Omeleto has over 5 million followers on its social media platforms, with tens of millions of viewers monthly.

“After completing our international festival circuit, we were pleasantly surprised by his selection of Omeleto and have happily signed a deal to share it online with moviegoers around the world,” said writer-director Kosta Nikas.

‘Utopia’ won two international awards – Best International Narrative Short at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and Best Short Film (Comedy) at the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival, which also screened at the Athens International Film Festival, in Greece, while also receiving an Orpheus Award nomination for Best Short Film at the Los Angeles Greek Film Festival.

The award-winning film also received an invitation from the prestigious UTOPIAL science fiction festival in France as one of the 35 best science fiction short films for its 2020 programming.

Utopia constructs a compelling world that seems steps away from our phone-saturated society, telling its cautionary tale in an ironically casual way,reads a statement from Omeleto.

But the 878,065 official views it has recorded Youtube are only half the story. It is estimated that the total number of views to date is closer to 2 million, after an army of netizens started pirating the film, adding subtitles in their own language and sharing it on all kinds Facebook and social media groups and platforms.

It is an incredible phenomenon to observe. Embarrassing but flattering at the same time. I don’t mind if they “steal” it; after all, we make movies so people can watch them,Nikas said.People actually spend time, money and resources to dub or add subtitles in their own language and then distribute them.adds the filmmaker.

Utopia has been pirated in French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Serbian, Russian, Croatian, Romanian to name a few, a rare phenomenon in the short film business but rather something you see with feature films.

I think it touched people because of the timing of the pandemic, even though I shot it in 2016; completed exactly one year before the covid-19 outbreak.adds writer-director Kosta Nikas.

Interestingly, Utopia was published as an educational resource on the website of the prestigious Times Educational Supplement that connects to 13 million teachers worldwide.

Unlike other dystopian stories where the government is “Big Brother” engaging in control and power via a vertical hierarchical relationship with its citizens, Nikas explored a “horizontal” relationship, i.e. citizen – against citizen.

Today, thanks to mobile technology, WE are each other’s “Big Brother”, surveillance and snitches of each other!” explains Nikas.

“In ‘Utopia’, I go one step further by showing that citizens are incentivized to be complicit with the state, through a commission payment system. It’s a much more dangerous society, where we are our own enemy.

You can fight an outside enemy, but how do you fight yourself?

Meanwhile, Nikas has just wrapped filming another narrative short, again inspired by the past two years of the pandemic, titled BORDELLO, which he hopes will have the same public appeal as Utopia.

Currently, BORDELLO makes the circuit of international film festivals.

UTOPIA: Audience of some of the pirated copies*:

French pirated copy: 502,000
Portuguese pirated copy: 27,252
Greek pirated copy 1:225,000
Greek pirated copy 2: 13,000
Russian: 22,474

*Greek City Times will not publish the links of the pirated version of the film. We encourage viewers to visit the official Omeleto channel on youtube: