Croatian American Times, May 17, 2005
Brenda Brkusic - Person of the Week
The film "Freedom from Despair" by young Croatian American Brenda Brkusic continues its successful travels to film festivals accompanied by exceptionally positive critiques from film critics and public officials. While voices in Croatia are heard for the rehabilitation of communism, Brenda Brkusic's film is founded upon the shocking experience of her father who fled to freedom from this communism, giving an important reminder also to the American public about a communist system which some are trying to rehabilitate.
In one of a number of positive critiques Los Angeles Radio KXLU critic Michael Kogge remarked that her film is not a naked academic try to revise history but a true story how her father and his friends fled the totalitarianism and tyranny of Tito's Yugoslavia. Even though we already wrote several times about Brenda Brkusic and her exceptionally successful first film we want to also present her biography. Born in America as the daughter of Croatian immigrants, her mother Grozdana Ukas from Jezera on the island of Murter and Krunoslav Brkusic from Bogomolje on the island of Hvar, becoming one of the best students at Chapman University in Orange, California, she decided to film the documentary of her father's life story.
Besides the documentary material she filmed in Croatia, she also succeeded to engage such well known film personalities as Michael York and John Savage as well as politicians, such as presidential candidate and Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Congressman George Radanovich. One thing that is especially important about Brenda is her emotional relationship to the film and the justice for which her father fought. She remembers: "I was only ten years old when I was witness to my father's fight for justice and that will always remain deep within me." This emotional charge with which she made her first film Freedom from Despair is obviously felt by all who viewed her film and by the ones who gave it such positive critiques. In this sense and in this way, we also give Brenda Brkusic the deserved recognition and gratitude.