Picks 'n' Pans

Don't miss Freedom From Despair

By Staff

Thursday, August 3, 2006 - 3:01 pm

we recommend these Fullerton Film Festival selections:

The terrorization and extermination of Jews by the Nazis has been documented and dramatized in countless films. You’d think the Academy Awards bylaws forbid a ceremony unless the Holocaust is the theme in at least one nominated documentary. Not to denigrate the worthiness of focusing on that dark period in human history, but other dark periods in human history seem to suffer a resulting lack of cinematic exposure. Brenda Brkusic tries to correct that slight when it comes to the terrorization and extermination of Croatians with her eye-opening documentary Freedom From Despair, which she created while enrolled in Chapman University’s film school. Mixing archival footage with a talking-head roster of authors, historians and her own relatives, Brkusic lays out the long, sordid history of abuses against Croatians, who suffered most profoundly under Yugoslavia’s Communist dictator Josip Bronz Tito, and continued being terrorized into the 1990s under Slobodan Milosevic. Actor John Savage narrates, actors Michael York and Beata Pozniak provide voiceovers and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) pops up to talk about the larger issues surrounding the Balkan War. But Brkusic, who is now a KOCE producer, impressively layers in the incredible personal story of her father, Kruno Brkusic, who miraculously eluded Tito’s thugs to escape to Italy and eventually land in America, where he became a spokesman for Croatian freedom during the height of Milosevic’s murderous reign. (Sun., 7 p.m.) (Matt Coker)