5 Star review in Australian paper, The Croatian Herald Category: Movies, TV, Celebrities

 

Sunday, May 18, 2008

 

A film by Brenda Brkusic Independent Release

 

***** Despair delivers an inspirational story

 

Josip LONCARIC

 

The exceptional film by young American-Croatian filmmaker Brenda Brkusic, ''Freedom From Despair'', has just touched down in the country and is now available for purchase. With this debut film production, the talented young director, writer and producer has managed to provide a rarely seen insight into life during the oppressive former Yugoslavia regime.

 

Finally, after months of delay in securing rights to distribute the film on DVD, Brkusic, who was only 22-years old when she completed the multi award-winning documentary film, has had her masterpiece released throughout the world.

 

As seen by the many Croatians who witnessed the film a few years ago in the various Croatian centers in Australia, 'Freedom from Despair' is a feature length documentary that explores the untold history of Communist Yugoslavia through first hand interviews, stock footage, news reels and narrative recreations shot in the United States and Croatia.

 

Portraying the incredible journey of Kruno Brkusic (Brenda's father), who risked his life to flee from a Yugoslav regime that punished independent thought and suppressed Croatian culture, Brkusic's 90 minute story is as disturbing as it is exhilarating, as it majestically travels through 50 years of contemporary Croatian and indeed, world history.

 

Whether the story is focusing on the creation of the second ill-fated Yugoslavia at the end of WWII, or the recent Homeland War in the early 90s, Brkusic displays much talent and flair to deliver a tale that is easy to understand and follow for both Croatians and non-Croatians.

 

Perhaps the most important aspect of Brkusic's film that is unique in films about Yugoslavia and Croatia is her portrayal of Comrade Tito - the now deceased leader of the former Communist Yugoslavia. Often regarded in America and Europe as an exceptional figure and even "good Soviet", Tito has only ever been portrayed as a hero and savior for the Yugoslav people.

 

Instead Brkusic, without any fear of consequence, shows viewers that Tito was in fact a cruel man, one that imprisoned and even killed any people or parties that spoke against him (or the state). Unlike many other cheesy documentaries, 'Freedom from Despair' is gritty, realistic and emotional in its content and execution.

 

A must-have addition to any Croatian household.  

 

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