Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Croatia to Participate in 58th Venice Biennale

ZAGREB, April 30, 2019 - Croatia's pavilion at the Venice Biennale Arte 2019, the 58th edition of the international visual arts exhibition, will be officially opened on 8 May presenting a work of multi-media artist Igor Grubić which has been described as one of 16 exhibits that are a must-see at this year's Biennale.

Croatia's participation in the Venice exhibition is being organised by the Moderna art gallery under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture. Croatia's pavilion of 300 square metres will be located in the immediate vicinity of the Fondazione Prada, in Calle della Regina.

Addressing a press conference on Monday at the Culture Ministry, Assistant Minister Iva Hraste Sočo said that the venue was a 16th century palace that was later converted into a carpenter's workshop and that this was the first time that it would house a national pavilion at the Biennale.

The ministry has allocated 750,000 kuna for the national pavilion and an additional 80,000 kuna to adapt the premises.

The exhibition's curator, Katerina Gregos, said that Croatia deliberately did not chose the Arsenal for its exhibition because it would probably be lost among the multiple exhibitions at the Biennale and added that the choice of the site for Croatia's exhibition was one of the key decisions made.

Igor Grubić is one of Croatia's best known, highly acclaimed and internationally recognised modern artists, Gregos said.

More culture news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Book Night 2019 Launched

ZAGREB, April 23, 2019 - The eighth edition of Book Night, an annual event aimed at promoting reading and books, was formally inaugurated at the National and University Library in Zagreb on Tuesday amid alarming reports about a sharp decline in book reading from the previous year.

The latest survey of reading habits, carried out by the Kvaka agency, revealed a decline in book reading in Croatia in the past year, from 56 percent in 2017 to 42 percent in 2018.

The opening ceremony was addressed by Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divljak, who highlighted the importance of book reading and its impact on social development.

Nenad Bartolčić, a member of the organising committee, spoke of negative developments in the country, noting that both the number of people who had read at least one book last year and the number of people who had bought at least one book in the last three months had dropped. He also drew attention to a decline in book production and "a chronic shortage of quality releases."

"This a long-standing negative trend which we are trying to stop and even reverse, through this event as well. That will require far more activities from all sector stakeholders because one or several events are not enough," Bartolčić said.

Book Night is held to mark World Book and Copyright Day, which is observed on April 23, and Croatian Book Day, marked on April 22. It is being held in 175 cities and towns across Croatia, with over 800 programmes. This year's theme is "Favourite Book and Comic Book Characters and Heroes".

More news about books can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Activities Planned for Year of Culture and Tourism in Croatia and China

ZAGREB, April 15, 2019 - In 2019, as the Year of Culture and Tourism in Croatia and China, various joint activities will be undertaken to promote the two countries, increase cultural and transport ties, exchange experience in special forms of tourism, and encourage investment, Croatian Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli announced in an interview with Hina.

Some of the activities were agreed last week during a visit by a high-level Chinese delegation, such as the signing of a memorandum on cooperation in special forms of tourism, which was preceded by a meeting with Chinese Culture and Tourism Minister Luo Shugang.

"It was his second visit in a short time. Last September he visited a China+16 conference on tourism in Dubrovnik. This time too we reaffirmed the good cooperation, and Minister Shugang invited us to China in the autumn to be special guests at their international tourism fair which will involve 100 countries," Cappelli said.

Speaking of cooperation in special forms of tourism, the minister said that Chinese investors were interested in health tourism.

"The Chinese market is very important to us because Chinese tourists are not motivated by recreation, but by culture, cuisine and other special forms of tourism. Last year 234,100 Chinese tourists visited Croatia and generated 344,000 bed nights, which is an increase of 46 percent on 2017. Positive trends are expected to continue this year too," Cappelli said.

Among of the activities that were already carried out this year are the presentation of 20 Chinese artists in Varaždin in February, the conference "The Role of China in Southeastern Europe" in Zagreb in March, and the licensing of 33 Chinese nationals as tourist guides in Zagreb, which took place in January.

On the other hand, the Croatian National Tourist Board organised two workshops and two webinars for about 200 Chinese travel agents and tour operators in Beijing and Shanghai in February and March, and the Zagreb Tourist Board promoted the Croatian capital in Beijing in March.

Until the end of the year, the Croatian Tourism Ministry plans study trips for Chinese media and tour operators, workshops, cultural events, and presentations at travel shows.

More news about relations between Croatia and China can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 8 April 2019

After Renovation, "Europa Cinema" Will Remain Art Cinema

ZAGREB, April 8, 2019 (Hina) - Europa Cinema (Kino Europa) will remain an art cinema after the necessary renovation, the Office of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić has said in a press release which was prompted by announcements of Cinema Europa's management which said that the movie theatre in downtown Zagreb would be shut down as the lease for the premises has ended and the City of Zagreb was taking it back.

"After the necessary renovation, Kino Europa will remain an art cinema. The lease awarded to the current tenants ten years ago has expired and under the law and in accordance with the lease agreement, the current tenants need to leave the facilities by June 1. Apart from ownership, the city needs to be in possession of the facility to be able to carry out the renovation," the press release said.

More than 2,000 people gathered in front of Cinema Europa in Zagreb on Saturday afternoon to show support for the cinema’s management, as the future of the Zagreb movie theatre Europa Cinema (Kino Europa), which is the oldest active cinema in Croatia, seemed uncertain.

On Friday, the cinema’s management announced that they would close the cinema this weekend after they received notice from the City of Zagreb that they would need to exit the premises on 1 June 2019 due to renovations.

Cinema Europa management said in a statement that the City was using the guise of the renovations to get rid of the cinema’s current management and bring a new tenant in.

However, on Saturday afternoon, the Zagreb Film Festival director Boris T. Matić admitted that their reaction a day before was a result of their shock and surprise. He said that 10 years ago when they were awarded the lease, the cinema was in a state of dilapidation. Matić insisted that under the concession agreement, they were supposed to invest two million kuna, and they had invested five million kuna to date.

On Saturday afternoon, the city authorities said that the renovation of the premises was necessary and refuted allegations that there were plans to repurpose the building, located in Zagreb's Cvjetni Square.

Matić said that he would hold a news conference on Tuesday to inform the public about the the details of the investments the current management had made so far.

Croatia’s Minister of Culture, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, on Saturday morning also raised her voice against the closure of Europa Cinema. She called on the two sides to show their good will and reach agreement on the future functioning of the cinema.

The City of Zagreb said in a statement on Saturday that the current management’s lease expires on 1 June and the premise would remain a cinema after renovations are complete.

Mayor Bandić accused the current tenants of exerting pressure on the city, adding that he expected a public apology over untrue claim that the cinema would be converted into a night club.

Europa Cinema, which turns 94 years old this month has been extremely successful over the last ten years, holding over 14,000 projections with over one million visitors. In 2016, Cinema Europa won the European Best Cinema Award. The cinema is a protected cultural heritage and national treasure of Croatia.

Europa Cinema said a second protest would be held on Tuesday, 9 April at 5:30 pm outside the cinema.

Zagreb Film Festival director Boris T. Matić said on Sunday, responding to a statement from the City of Zagreb, that he never said the city planned to convert the Europa cinema into a nightclub and that he had heard this from hospitality circles, and once again apologised to the Jewish Film Festival for his "hasty act."

"I never said the City of Zagreb planned to open a nightclub, but that I heard from hospitality circles that they want to convert the cinema into such a venue," Matić said in a press release, adding that in his statements to the press he had voiced his doubts about that.

"I doubt that and believe it's some malicious imputation both against us and the city structures, but it troubles us that we still haven't received a concrete answer about the future of the cinema... I heard this story from hospitality circles two years ago. I think it's an imputation against us and the City of Zagreb because the cinema is protected cultural heritage," Matić said.

He once again apologised to the Jewish Film Festival, which had to be relocated from the Europa cinema to the Student Centre on the eve of its opening.

Speaking to the press before the opening of the festival, Mayor Bandić slammed "those disparaging city institutions and the mayor," saying they were "shamelessly using spins to realise personal interests, but they won't succeed."

Asked about the importance of the festival for Zagreb, he was it was "inestimable" because it made the city a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional European capital.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Book Night to Be Held on April 23

ZAGREB, April 8, 2019 - The eighth edition of Book Night, an annual event aimed at promoting reading and books, will be held on April 23, and the main theme will be fictional characters and heroes.

Book Night will be organised in bookshops, second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, libraries and various institutions throughout Croatia. Its aim is to provide a creative impetus to reading, promoting books and discussing the status and importance of books in contemporary society.

This year's theme "Favourite Book and Comic Book Characters and Heroes" was prompted by several anniversaries that are marked this year, such as 180 years since the publication of Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov’s novel "A Hero of Our Time", the 80th anniversary of the launch of Marvel Comics, 50 years since the first publication of Alan Ford, an Italian comic book hugely popular in Croatia and ex-Yugoslavia, 90 years since the first appearance of Popeye the Sailor, and the 50th anniversary of the birth and 20th anniversary of the death of Edvin Biuković, an influential Croatian comic strip artist.

The event coincides with World Book and Copyright Day, which is observed on April 23, and follows up on Croatian Book Day, marked on April 22.

More news about books in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Picture Book Launched in Bid to Preserve Istro-Romanian Language

ZAGREB, April 6, 2019 - A group of researchers and enthusiasts have recently joined forces in their efforts to preserve two varieties of the Istro-Romanian language that is on the brink of extinction in Istria, and published a picture book under the title "Scorica de lisica si de lupu” ("A Story about the Fox and the Wolf)" in those dialects called Vlaški and Žejanski.

The picture book was launched within the week-long campaign promoting children's books in Rijeka, and the project about the preservation of Istro-Romanian is being led by linguist Zvjezdana Vrzić who collects material about this endangered language and is the director of the project called "Preservation of the Vlaški and Žejanski Language". She is also president of Traces, a non-profit organisation which promotes the documentation, description and maintenance of the languages and dialects of her native Istria and Kvarner.

Also, in recent years an enthusiast Adijana Gabris has been conducting language courses for children in the Istrian villages where these dialects Vlaški and Žejanski are still spoken.

"The Vlaški and Žejanski language (Vlashki and Zheyanski, also, Istro-Romanian) is spoken in two separate areas in the northeast of the Istrian peninsula in Croatia: The first is the northern village of Žejan/Žejane, which is located in the mountains off the road leading from Rijeka to Trieste. The second comprises several villages with their adjoining hamlets south of Žejan/Žejane, around the northern edge of Čepićko Polje, just off the road leading from the Učka Tunnel to the town of Labin. The villages are Bardo/Brdo with several hamlets, such as Kostarčan/Kostrčan(i) and Zankovci, Letaj/Letaj, Nosolo/Nova Vas Sušnjevice/Šušnjevice/Šušnjevica, and Sukodru/Jesenovik," according to the information provided on the website dedicated to the preservation of that language.

In Europe, there are 24 languages right on the brink of extinction, and three of them are from Croatia, the British Telegraph daily reported in late 2014.

Among those 24 tongues that at risk of falling out of use, the three that are from Croatia are Istro-Romanian, with an estimated 300 speakers left, Istriot (400) and Arbanasi (500). They ranked 13th, 16th and 18th respectively on a list of critically or severely endangered languages, and this ranking was topped by the Livonian language used by some 50 people in Latvia as their second language, while the last person who had Livonian as her mother tongue died in 2013, according to the report the British newspaper published in November 2014.

Istro-Romanian, an Eastern Romance language, is spoken in a few villages in the north of the Croatian peninsula of Istria, while Istriot, a Romance language, is spoken in the west of Istria. Arbanasi, a dialect of Gheg Albanian, is spoken by some 500 inhabitants in the Croatian coastal city of Zadar.

Croatian philologist August Kovačec explained in an interview to Hina a few years ago that Istro-Romanian is a variety of the Romanian language, but this dialect has not had any contact with Romanians for nearly a century.

Apart from Istro-Romanian speakers in several villages in Istria, there are also people living in New York and some other parts of America and Australia who can speak this language. Their ancestors left Istria in the 1970s due to an economic crisis.

Istriot is used in the south-western corner of the Istrian peninsula, particularly in the towns of Rovinj and Vodnjan, and its roots date back to a period before Venetian rule. Istriot has been rather italianised, according to the Croatian linguist's explanation. The term Istriot was coined by the 19th century Italian linguist Graziadio Isaia Ascoli.

The Italian community in Istria has published dictionaries of Istriot dialect variants, Kovačec told Hina.

"Atlas of the Istro-Romanian Speeches" and "Atlas of Istriot" by philologist Goran Filipi have been published.

More news about Istria can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

12.5% Tourists Visit Croatia Solely for Culture

ZAGREB, April 6, 2019 - Of all the tourists arriving in Croatia, 12.5% do so solely for the culture, and Croatia is full of excellent combinations of culture and tourism, Tourism Minister Gari Cappelli said on Friday at a panel on cultural heritage and the development of tourism.

The panel was held in Miljana Castle in Krapina-Zagorje County and was attended, among others by Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Finance Minister Zdravko Marić, and Slovenian Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.

Obuljen Koržinek said the development of culture was a driver of tourism, notably in small communities. She highlighted the Vukovar-Vučedol-Ilok project in the eastern Slavonia region "as the most complex post-war reconstruction project" as well as the Zagorje Museums and the Krapina Neanderthals Museum.

Minister Cappelli said about 40% of tourists planned something to do with culture on their travels. Speaking of how culture contributes to Croatia's tourism, he highlighted Klis Fortress and the Apoxyomenos Museum. He underlined the importance of combining culture, tourism and gastronomy, notably in continental Croatia, to make tourists stay for more than two days on average.

Minister Marić said tourism was a strong and propulsive industry with high potential and that it "can and should support" agriculture, the food industry and construction. Culture "is another very propulsive, promising and potent industry" and that "we must not forget creative industries either," he added.

Minister Počivalšek said culture was one of the more important products in Slovenia 2017-21 sustainable tourism development strategy, and that the country was being promoted as a five-star healthy and cultural destination. Twenty percent of tourism revenues come from culture and the goal is to raise it to 30%, he added.

More news about culture in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Renaissance Masterpiece to Be Exhibited in Zagreb for Next 8 Years

For the next eight years, Zagreb and its Museum of Arts and Crafts (MUO) will be a unique destination for international art lovers. The MUO has become the temporary home of a Renaissance masterpiece made by great Croatian-Venetian painter Andrija Medulić Schiavone, "King Saul being greeted in triumph after David's defeat of Goliath”, reports Večernji List on February 17, 2019.

It is an oil on wood painting made in Venice in 1540 which has never been publicly presented. Even the Medulić's 1980 monograph says that the work had been seen only in photographs. The dimensions of the painting are 92.5 x 109.8 centimetres.

During its rich history, the painting has changed many owners, from the London antique dealer Martino Colnaghi, through Prince Paul of Karađorđević in the 20th century, who sold it in 1969 together with the furniture of his villa, to a private collector in Italy, from where it appeared after 50 years at Christie's in London.

This is when Andrija Kojaković, the Dubrovnik-born entrepreneur, ambassador and collector, bought the painting. After being hidden for centuries, he decided to lend it to the MUO so that art lovers would have an opportunity to enjoy the work of the great Croatian painter. “Others who have such artworks should give them to the museums too and present them to the general public because enjoying something alone is a bit selfish,” said Kojaković at the MUO where he was joined by art historian Flora Turner-Vučetić and MUO director Miroslav Gašparović.

“I never wanted to compete at an auction when a Croatian institution or museum would be involved because I thought it was not fair. If more similar paintings appear in the future, I will certainly continue with my efforts,” said Kojaković, adding that he was just a person who enjoys things connected with Dubrovnik; he also owns a collection of old Dubrovnik money. He is also interested in paintings by British artists who painted Dubrovnik and old maps depicting the Dubrovnik Republic. “While I worked as an ambassador, I had to prove that Prevlaka is part of Croatia, and on all the old maps that is shown very clearly. That is why they are so interesting to me,” Kojaković said.

The temporary donation is a great honour for the MUO since this painting is one of just 20 confirmed works by Andrija Medulić, two of which are already located in Zagreb. “This is really an act of charity, which is not common in our society, and therefore this sends a message of how we should all do good for the community," Gašparović pointed out.

The city authorities also thanked Kojaković. “With this generous act, the MUO permanent exhibition will be considerably enriched during the next eight years, and this will certainly help this museum to remain one of the most visited museums in Croatia,” said Jelena Pavičić Vukičević, the representative of the Zagreb Mayor.

Translated from Večernji List (reported by Jelena Ružić).

More Zagreb news can be found in the dedicated section.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

No More Cuts! Initiative Protests against Culture Funds Allocation

ZAGREB, February 5, 2019 - The No More Cuts! initiative, unhappy with the allocation of Culture Ministry funds, staged a protest outside the ministry on Monday and outlined their demands to Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek, who invited their representatives to talks, but they did not show up.

"We are asking that the culture budget be increased to 3%. We demand that the work of cultural councils be public, based on clear criteria and explanations of the decisions adopted," the initiative representatives said.

They said they also wanted to shatter the public perception of the field of culture as a hotbed of "idlers" and "sinecurists", adding that surveys showed that more than half of the country's artists and culture workers could not live off their work.

"That's why we are asking for conditions in which artists and culture workers can live off their work. We are asking for safety at work and social welfare," they said, adding that they had also had it with "shameful working conditions and insecure types of work which bring short term and uncertain project financing."

They are also asking for public financing of non-profit media as a space for investigative and critical journalism which, they said works in the public interest.

Minister says culture budget has risen by 300 million kuna since 2016

Minister Obuljen Koržinek told reporters she invited the initiative's representatives to talks to see what cuts they were referring to. "In this government's term, since 2016, the Culture Ministry budget has been increased by about 300 million kuna," she said, adding that this included original and European funds and that the increase in original funds was about 100 million kuna.

"For this year we announced the adoption of a new law on financing and a new law on cultural councils, which is a prerequisite for any serious reform of the financing system. We also envisaged the adoption of a new law on artists and artistic activity," the minister added.

She recalled that three new calls had been advertised for projects to be financed from the European Social Fund in the amount of 90 million kuna.

She also recalled that non-profit media were financed via the Electronic Media Agency from the media pluralism fund.

As for the status of artists, the minister recalled that, under this government, all public lending right debts had been paid and continued financing of artists' copyrights had been ensured.

Obuljen Koržinek said she could not accept claims that cuts were being made and that this could easily be verified, reiterating that funding had been increased in all activities.

She said the No More Cuts! initiative did not take into account all of the Culture Ministry's financing, including 70 million kuna in programme funds for all public institutions founded by the ministry.

More news on Croatia’s culture policies can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Italian Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro to Visit Zagreb

ZAGREB, February 4, 2019 - A famous Italian cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, an Oscar award winner who has worked with distinguished film directors including Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Ford Coppola, Warren Beatty, Woody Allen and Dario Argento will be visiting Zagreb on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Academy of Dramatic Art (ADU) said on Monday.

Storaro will hold a masterclass lecture on Wednesday at the F22 ADU hall for students, professors and interested public.

On Tuesday he will make an introductory speech in the Europa cinema as part of a cinema lecture programme dedicated to film classics ahead of a screening of the 1970 film, The Conformist.

Storaro's visit to Zagreb is being organised by the Italian Cultural Institute in cooperation with the Academy of Dramatic Art and Europa Cinema.

Vittorio Storaro was born in Rome in 1940 and was actively involved in photography from an early age. In 1956 he enrolled in the Experimental Film Centre as the youngest student in his generation.

This cinematographer has won several awards. He is a three-times Oscar winner - Apocalypse Now (1980), Reds (1981) and The Last Emperor (1988).

More news on the film and arts in Croatia in general can be found in the Lifestyle section.

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