Friday, 15 November 2019

Officials Express Condolences After Passing of Branko Lustig

ZAGREB, November 15, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday expressed condolences to the family of film producer Branko Lustig, who died on Wednesday at the age of 87, stressing that the artistic work of Croatia's most successful film producer and associate of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was marked by the tragedy of the Jewish people and his suffering as a former inmate of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen as well as the suffering of his family.

"I was deeply saddened to learn about the passing of the great Branko Lustig, the most successful Croatian film producer, actor, prominent collaborator of the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, collaborator of the world's biggest film directors, president of the film Festival of Tolerance, Croatia's only two-time Academy Award winner, winner of the Golden Globe award and an honorary citizen of Zagreb.

"His entire artistic work was marked by the tragedy of the Jewish people, his suffering as a former inmate of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen and the suffering of his family, killed in concentration camps.

"The life mission of Branko Lustig, as he said, was defined forever by the last words of his fellow sufferers - to tell the world how they lived and how they died. And he did it in the best possible way, with his impressive work on Schindler's List, one of the greatest Holocaust films of all time for which he deservedly won his first Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe award," Plenković said in his letter of condolence to the Lustig family.

He recalled that Lustig gave his Academy Award to the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Israel and initiated the establishment of a foundation dedicated to collecting recordings of interviews with Holocaust survivors.

"Branko Lustig tirelessly made movies and he also held lectures at Croatian and international universities and schools for decades, focusing on the education of young people. One of his messages that we must remember is that weapons of mass destruction are not bombs but hate among people, intolerance and blindness and if one forgets that, it would mean that evil has won.

"The truth is that Branko Lustig has won with his artistic and human mission," Plenković said in the letter of condolence.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on Thursday extended her condolences to the family of film producer Branko Lustig, her special advisor on the Holocaust, who died on Wednesday at the age of 87, stressing that he had dedicated his life to spreading the truth about the past and teaching new generations that respect for the dignity of every person was the only right way to live.

Lustig was born to a Jewish family in Osijek in 1932. During WWII he was detained in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Most of his family were killed in concentration camps all over Europe.

"It was with deep sadness that I learned of the death of Mr Branko Lustig, a world-renowned film producer, two-time Academy Award winner, president of the Festival of Tolerance, a man who dedicated his life to the mission of spreading the truth about the past and teaching the new generations that respect for the dignity of every person is the only right way to live."

Grabar-Kitarović recalled in her letter Schindler's List, an Academy Award-winning film about the fate of the Jewish people during Nazism and individuals who had the courage to oppose it, which Lustig produced.

"It was his way of addressing the issue of those who during the Holocaust perished before his eyes, of protecting them from oblivion, a testimony and warning to all that hate is a tragedy of humanity," Grabar-Kitarović said in her letter.

"He was a convinced humanist... as my special advisor on Holocaust issues, he was a valuable associate, notably in joint projects such as one to erect a monument to victims of the Holocaust, to be implemented in cooperation with the City of Zagreb," the president said in the letter of condolence.

Croatian Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek on Thursday expressed her condolences to the family of film producer Branko Lustig, stressing that his role in the Croatian society was great and that his death was a huge loss.

The prominent film producer and two-time Academy Award winner Branko Lustig died in Zagreb at the age of 87 on Wednesday.

Lustig was born to a Jewish family in Osijek in 1932. During WWII he was detained in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Most of his family were killed in concentration camps all over Europe.

Lustig was a great name in the Croatian and international cinematography, an Academy Award winner and much more than that, Obuljen Koržinek told reporters outside the government offices.

"He had an important role in society in recent years. He promoted the culture of remembrance, he launched the Jewish Film Festival and later the Festival of Tolerance, testifying with his life about the importance of never forgetting the horrible crimes that he survived, but he also sent a message of inclusiveness and tolerance, saying that he had forgiven but not forgotten."

More news about Branko Lustig can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Croatian-Born Movie Producer Branko Lustig Dies

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.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Film Producer Branko Lustig Becomes Honorary Citizen of Zagreb

ZAGREB, May 31, 2019 - Film producer and two-time Oscar winner Branko Lustig said on Friday that he was very moved by being awarded the title of an honorary citizen at a special meeting of Zagreb City Assembly on Zagreb City Day observed on May 31.

"I am very touched by this attention and so many of you here. I didn't expect this... I am touched and cannot express what I feel for Zagreb, for this community and particularly toward Mayor Milan Bandić because I always feel that he is not just a mayor but a friend who would do anything for me when it is hardest but also when I fell well," Lustig told reporters after the award ceremony.

Lustig was awarded with the title for his exceptional contribution to promoting the values of a democratic society, the art of film and a culture of understanding between those who are different and in that way Croatia and the City of Zagreb will be in his debt forever.

Lustig was born to a Jewish family in Osijek in 1932. During WWII he was detained in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, weighing only 30 kg when he was freed. Most of his family were killed in concentration camps all over Europe.

He won the Academy Award for best producer in 1993 for Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List" and in 2000 for Ridley Scott's "Gladiator". He donated his "Schindler's List" Oscar to the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem in 2015.

“My number is A 3317. I am a Holocaust survivor. It is a long way from Auschwitz to this stage. I saw many people die and their last words were, ‘Be a witness to my murder. Tell the world how I died Remember,’ Lustig said when he received the Oscar for "Schindler's List," in 1993.

Zagreb is not the first Croatian city to have named Lustig an honorary citizen. Osijek did so in 2010 and Čakovec in 2017. Former Croatian president Franjo Tuđman decorated Lustig in 1994.

In 2014, Lustig was decorated by the president of France and ranked the 29th best film producer of all times by the eminent magazine The Daily Beast.

Since 2008, Lustig has been the president of the Festival of Tolerance - Jewish Film Festival Zagreb.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Film Producer Branko Lustig Becomes Honorary Citizen of Zagreb

The Zagreb City Assembly has decided to name the prominent film producer and double Oscar-winner Branko Lustig as the honorary citizen of Zagreb. Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić submitted the proposal, reports Jutarnji List on April 23, 2019.

Lustig received the tribute for “an extraordinary contribution to the promotion of the values of a democratic society, film art and culture, and mutual understanding.” The proposal also points out that Lustig is the only Croatian winner of two Oscars.

HDZ’s assemblywoman Dubravka Brezak Stamać noted in the debate that Lustig should have been honoured much earlier, and SDP's assemblyman Matej Mišić also supported the decision.

This is not the first such honour for Lustig. He was named as an honorary citizen of Osijek in 2010 and honorary citizen of Čakovec in 2017. In 1994, Lustig was awarded the Order of Trpimir for promoting the international position and reputation of the Republic of Croatia.

In his career, he has received a number of significant international awards. For example, in 2014, the French president awarded him with the knightly order for arts and literature, and he was included among the top 50 best filmmakers of all time.

“My number was A3317. It is a long way from Auschwitz to this stage. Those who died obliged me to keep talking about it," Lustig said after winning Oscar in 1993 as a producer of Schindler's List.

He was born in Osijek in 1932. Because of his Jewish origin, he was detained in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps during the Second World War. Most of his family members perished in concentration camps across Europe, including his grandmother who was killed in a gas chamber and father who was killed in Čakovec. He managed to survive the horrors of the camps. His experience from the camps was embedded in Schindler's List, a film by Steven Spielberg, which convincingly portrayed the painful scenes from concentration camps.

Lustig graduated as an actor at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb in 1955 and started his professional career in Zagreb's Jadran Film, at that time a large film production and distribution company. He was involved in almost all foreign film productions in the former Yugoslavia. He worked as a location manager, assistant director, production assistant and producer, and has played smaller roles in several movies.

In 1988, Lustig moved to the United States, where he continued to build his film career, primarily as a producer. He worked closely with prominent directors Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott and produced many acclaimed and award-winning films, such as Black Hawk Down, Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster.

Two films from that period – Schindler's List and Gladiator – brought him Oscar and BAFTA awards. He has donated his Academy Award for Schindler's List to the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem.

Since 2008, he has been president of the Festival of Tolerance in Zagreb, which was known until a few years ago as the Jewish Film Festival. It is organised every year in Zagreb, as well as in towns of several other countries of the region.

Translated from Jutarnji List.

More film news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Holocaust Museum to Open in Zagreb

The new museum might open as early as the end of 2018. 

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