Croatian-Born Movie Producer Branko Lustig Dies

By 14 November 2019

Croatian media reports that Branko Lustig, an Academy-award winning Hollywood producer passed away in Zagreb this morning. He was 87.

Nacional weekly wrote an obituary of the famous producer. He was born in Osijek in 1932, in a Jewish family which was heavily persecuted during World War II. Branko himself was a prisoner in both Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen as a child, and his grandmother and father were killed in concentration camps. Lustig started his movie career in Zagreb, in then-famous Jadran film, where he worked in a series of roles, making movies and TV series (including some of the international hits, such as "Don't Look Back, My Son" and "Kozara") before his move to the US in 1988.

Soon after his move to Hollywood, the fame came for Lustig, as one of the first movies he was involved with was Schindler's List, one of the biggest hits of the decade and a movie which won 7 Academy Awards. Lustig was one of the producers of the film, along with Steven Spielberg and Gerald Molen. He also played a small part in the film, which is also said to have some of his and his family's experiences included in the story. He donated his Oscar figurine to Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, for eternal safekeeping. His other Academy Award came for Gladiator in 2000. He was the producer of many other Hollywood hits, such as The Peacemaker, Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down and others.

In his later years, he gravitated back to Croatia and Zagreb, and although he split his time between Zagreb and Los Angeles, he told the Croatian newspapers "But more and more, slowly, I am returning to Zagreb. I'm coming back." In Croatia, Branko Lustig served as a director of the Festival of Tolerance - the Jewish Film Festival.