Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Zagreb Pays Homage to John Lennon at Croatian National Theatre

April the 25th, 2023 - The Croatian National Theatre (HNK) in Zagreb recently paid homage to the English music legend John Lennon in the form of an opera written by no less than former Croatian President Ivo Josipovic.

Composers love to play with words, to listen to how they sound when set to music, to write and re-write the notes until they feel the ‘obtained’ amalgamate expresses an emotion, a situation or a story the way they see it in their never resting imagination. I myself think they hear the music constantly, like when walking around a shopping mall - not as a noise, but as some musical syllable or a theme. And so they make our lives indescribably richer and happier. Just try to imagine what we'd be listening to on the radio - news and more news, tales, just words, words, and more words. Imagine.

Zagreb, the capital city of all Croats wherever they may be located around the world, would maybe surprise you with the number of cultural and arts institutions it boasts, and, especially, with the number of cultural happenings every single day. It kind of reminds me, however on an immeasurably smaller scale, of my young days in New York when I wanted to see every single thing, every single day, and kept feeling unjustly deprived because I simply couldn't. The same happens in Zagreb, albeit proportionately.

Zagreb's very first public theatre came to be in the year 1834. The present imposing building of the Croatian National Theatre has been there ever since 1875. It's hard to imagine how many things have taken place there in that time. In the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, usually only ''big'' pieces of theatre, opera and ballet are performed, and they're not only big, but also so good that every opera evening over the last several months has been a total sellout.

I have a special affinity with that theatre's opera intended for kids up to three years old. It's praiseworthy and a big congratulations to the artists, and to the management, is due. I was surprised fairly recently when a teenager asked who (tf) Paul McCartney is after he released a song with Rihanna and Kanye West, realising how talented he is. That can easily transport us back to those days of a world blooming and flourishing in more sense than one, with The Beatles as an emblematic group of young men who ruled the world ( because they ruled our hearts).

If you weren't around back then, Google is your friend. It will tell you precisely who John Lennon was. Croatian composer Ivo Josipovic, who is also the country's ex president, was among the billions utterly shocked by the murder that suddenly put an end to John Lennon’s life at the age of 40. Intrigued by the psychological profile of Mark Chapman who shot
Lennon in the street while declaring himself to be  true fan, Josipovic felt the urge to dedicate a piece of performative work to Lennon and to his memory. It took years until it finally came out of the nib of his pen as an opera simply entitled ''Lennon''.

''Lennon'' is a big piece of theatre, involving a large ensemble of singers, dancers and a full orchestra. As expected, the music performed has nothing to do with the music of The Beatles. In a modern musical idiom, in brief, it tries to imagine what flashes bolted through Lennon’s mind between the moment he was shot and the moment he died. His grief for the mother, whom he lost when he was just 18, plays out, as do his ambiguous relationships with his first wife Cynthia and with May, his assistant, and the other three musicians from the band (where Paul McCartney appears as the closest to Lennon) and, particularly, naturally and throughout the piece, his relationship with Yoko Ono, his second wife, plays out.

In other words, the last seconds of his natural existence on this Earth play out, lasting for almost two hours, giving shape to his memories, emotions and, especially, to his feelings for the most important people in his life as he slips from this world into the next. Amongst it all, he occasionally alludes to how it is necessary to give peace a chance, the cause Lennon stood for so firmly and profoundly.

Yet another very interesting feature of ''Lennon'' is that it is sung in English. Josipovic's work was clearly a huge undertake, with beautiful artistic delivery among impressing stage sets and a masterful design of lights.

Thanks to the cooperation of the Zagreb Music Biennale and the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, this project causes feelings of warmth and reminds us that this small nation has always been a participant and a contributor to the artistic memory of the world.

For more, make sure to follow our lifestyle section.

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Vucedol Culture Museum and the City: Free Entry for Vukovar Residents

December 32, 2022 - Though it has been visited by more than half a million visitors from Croatia and abroad since its opening in 2015, the Vucedol Culture Museum remains one of Europe's most underrated museums. The stunning architecture, unique location, the modern exhibition and exciting events deserve all the attention. A place with a soul like that, though, will no doubt go a long way.

As Glas Slavonije writes, the archaeological site of Vučedol is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Europe. For visitors of all generations who want to experience something new, beautiful, and interesting, the Vucedol Culture Museum offers a new universe of discovery and inspiration, with an incomparable and unrepeatable combination of location, architecture, pleasant atmosphere, and, above all, archaeological and historical values presented in a contemporary way.

It is not surprising that from the day it opened, the museum became an important place in the tourist offer of Vukovar, so many domestic and foreign tourists who visit the city on the Danube do not miss the opportunity to learn something about the locality itself and the history of the area. The museum employees help with their knowledge and presentation of the exhibition. Furthermore, they pointed out that a few changes await the citizens in the first days of 2023 and shared some good news for the residents of Vukovar.

"From 1st January, entry to the museum will be free for all Vukovar residents. It is enough to present an identity card as proof of residence. During the seven years since the museum's foundation, many fellow citizens have visited us, so we would like to thank them for supporting us. Also, the people of Vukovar visit the museum together with their guests and remain the best promoters of their city", pointed out the head of marketing Darko Bilandžić.

Since its opening on June 30, 2015, the museum has been visited by more than half a million visitors, making Vucedol one of the most visited museum institutions in Croatia.

During that period, it received several awards for its work and many activities in Croatia and abroad. Not so long ago, the first international scientific and professional conference on the meaning of Vučedol culture was also held in Vukovar.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Art Caffe - Croatia's World of Arts Brought to Life Through Interviews

June the 21st, 2022 - Art Caffe, an initiative of Unimedia owner Nikola Mihaljevic and former Dubrovnik Summer Festival director and war veteran Miso Mihocevic, aims to shine the spotlight on those involved in the Croatian arts scene through a series of interviews.

Anyone who has spent any time whatsoever in Croatia can see that this country is awash with culture and arts. From theatre to painting, and from painting to sculpting, and then again from sculpting to acting, singing and the world of performance - this small country packs a punch. 

What better way to get to know the names and faces behind some of Croatia's arts scene than through a series of personal and light interviews held in the perfect surroundings and ambiance of the Croatian National Theatre (HNK) in the heart of Zagreb?

The initial idea for the Art Caffe concept came from Nikola Mihaljevic and his Unimedia Studio, who was inspired by the permanent need to talk about arts and culture, to point out just what this country has to offer in that regard - which is abundant. While the galleries and the performances themselves are well known, much less is known about those who stand behind them, the artists, singers, actors, their assistants, their education and professions. Their lives.

Art Caffe's overall concept is to present those individuals and their work, their slot in the rich world of art, their inspirations, artistic and life philosophies, struggles and achievements. The idea was enhanced and its materialisation accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, when artists, especially those who freelance, had their entire existence seriously called into question in a manner that could never have been predicted.

ArtCaffe was offered as a chance to give them opportunity, a voice, for better visibility in the country's collective consciousness. 45 minutes offers time enough for one person to say a lot, indeed - the opportunity very few people are lucky enough to have, but one each person involved in Croatian arts deserves.

''The title is descriptive in its own merit - sitting in a cafe and talking about arts. It's as simple as that,'' explained Art Caffe's anchor, Miso Mihocevic, who has spent all his life in both arts, and in cafes.

''I'm a big fan of talk shows (if done well and without pretensions), I've watched thousands over the years. By watching them, I was involuntarily learning and preparing for something I never thought I'd do. When I was offered to anchor Art Caffe, I was slightly anxious and had lots of questions roaming in my mind, however, I knew I was ready. To try, I mean. It turned out pretty well from the start, which encouraged me and made me want to talk more and more with those lurking behind the scenes.

Art Caffe is simple as a format, and so am I as its anchor - there are no pre-prepared questions. Questions must arise from the conversation, in order to get something logical, smooth and easy going. My preparation is simple as well - God bless Google for some general (or even detailed) information, and a chat before the shooting.

The rest, as said, comes out of the conversation, the questions I ask are inspired by the interlocutor and nothing else. There are no agendas. I therefore see Art Caffe as a conversation, not as an interview. With that warm feeling of giving a chance to people to introduce themselves by saying precisely what they, and not what you, want.

In this world obsessed with the pandemic, the war, the economy and oil prices, an artist can hardly make the news through any contact with the public, and to an audience without whom the arts make no sense whatsoever.

If you understand Croatian, you can follow Art Caffe on YouTube by clicking here.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Cinemas See 70% Drop in Number of Visitors in 2020

ZAGREB, 1 April (2022) - The national statistical office has released data on cinematography in 2020, which confirm that cinemas and films were the part of the culture and art sector most affected by the coronavirus pandemic in the first year of the pandemic.

Compared to 2019, the number of screenings in 2020 was down by 48% and the number of visitors by 70%. Due to the closing down of all cultural and educational institutions, as many as 51% of cinematographers worked from seven to ten months in 2020.

The number of screenings and visitors dropped significantly in all counties, except for Karlovac County, where it grew compared to 2019.

The six open air cinemas that operated in 2020 saw an increase of 108% in screenings and a 53% increase in the number of visitors, which shows that epidemiological restrictions prompted a much larger number of visitors to watch films in the open.

Cinema operators in 2020 also saw a significant drop in ticket sales, with their total gross revenue down 70% from 2019.

Open air and mobile cinemas saw the smallest drop in revenues, of 11%, from 2019.

Seventy-five cinematographers operated in 2020, with 46 operating one screen and 22 more than one.

There were 18 independent cinematographers and 57 that operated as part of other business entities.

A total of 6,382 films were shown at 99,106 screenings, of which 2,422 were screenings of Croatian films. There were 1,503,306 viewers, of whom 31,953 watched Croatian films.

The number of cinema employees dropped 14% from 2019.

For more, check out our business section.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Optic Show Exhibition: Perspective and Women's Socks in MSU Zagreb

October 8, 2021 - The Optic Show Exhibition by Predrag Pavić set to be held at MSU Zagreb is a critical, interactive, and really fun artistic experience that is critical of today's consumerism habits.

From Sisak photographer Miroslav Arbutin Arba's exhibition to the education of young people who want to become museum curators, the Zagreb Contemporary Museum (MSU Zagreb) constantly has an interesting offer for its visitors.

One of them is the recently opened ''Optic Show'' exhibition by Predrag Pavić. Opened on October 6, the exhibition will last until October 26.

MSU rated Pavić as a type of artist who is becoming more and more in this day and age. He's an artist who turns his work into a game that is subversive, intriguing, and from time to time, even not all that serious. Pavić's work is already noted for being critical of consumerism and the modern society in which ''every weird little thing'' can earn the status of a fetish. The ''Optic Show'' at MSU Zagreb is no different, as it is a light show installation featuring an archive of no less than women's socks.

''It's true that women's socks entered the erotic-fetish domain long ago, but Pavić has since turned them into an art project which keeps being developed and added to, just like any archive. All the while, he amazes people with performance, participation from the visitors and his end effects,'' writes MSU Zagreb on its website.

The women's socks from Pavić's archive are placed within reversal films frames. The texture of a woman's sock becomes magnified and unclear in terms of what exactly it is from the observer's point of view. Observers are invited to pick through the archive, select reverse films, and put them into the projector. From that point on, what the exhibition brings, is everyone's guess and it differs from individual to individual.

''Predrag Pavić is one of the most interesting Croatian authors of his generation (born in 1982 in Zagreb). He freely expresses himself in various forms and mediums, from sculptures, installations, videos all the way to multimedia work, with his conceptual spirit being the starting point. In the process, his themes are the acceptance of the absurdity of the social surroundings in which he lives and works, and always with a discrete dose of humor,'' concluded MSU.

Learn more about Croatian Art Galleries in Zagreb, Dalmatia, Istria & Slavonia on our TC page.

For more about art in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Monday, 4 October 2021

The Storkman Movie: Origins of Famous Malena The Stork Online

October 4, 2021 - The Storkman Movie is a documentary about rescuing the famous Croatian stork called Malena, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

Croatian and international animal lovers were sad due to the tragic loss earlier in July of 2021when the beloved stork Malena (a Croatian word that can be roughly be translated as little one when talking to/about a female) passed away.

As many already know, Malena was the stork Guillette to Klepetan, a male stork who would always return to her in the Slavonian village of Brodski Varoš, located not too far from Slavonski Brod.

The love birds filled Croatian and global news outlets for nineteen years and it all started with Brodski Varoš resident Stjepan Vokić. He found Malena in 1993. Her wing had been shot through, and Vokić rescued her. Vokić's nurturing saved her life, but Malena couldn't fly anymore and, unlike many storks flying south every year, had to stay in the village forever. This makes Klepetan's return every year after the two first met in 2002 all the more interesting, showing animals have both love and loyalty humans could learn a lot from.

So much so, it inspired a documentary film produced in 2020 and titled ''The Storkman''.

''The story of a retired and widowed man from Slavonski Brod amazed many, kept our hearts warm and returned a feeling of hope that man and nature still have sympathy for each other and that the love between humans and animals can withstand even the biggest obstacles in their way,'' reads the movie description on Culturenet.

The director of the film is Tomislav Jelinčić, whom the Croatian audience know best as a journalist, editor, and TV host at RTL television.

The movie premiered in Croatian cinemas back in May 2021, but now you can also watch it online with English subtitles on Vimeo on demand.

Taking the focus away from solely being about Malena and Klepetan's love story, the film promises to reveal more about the nurturing of Malena herself.

Storks are beloved guests at Lonjsko Polje. Learn more on our TC page

For more about animals in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Smoqua Queer Festival Rijeka: A Safe Space for Diversity

October 2, 2021 - The fifth edition of the Smoqua Queer Festival Rijeka is set to celebrate diversity from October 7-9.

Culture, art, and interesting content mixed with the advocation of rights for sexual minorities, citizens and visitors of Rijeka are once again in for a queer culture treat as the fifth edition of the Smoqua festival of queer and feminist culture will take place from October 7-9.

''With our hearts full, we're announcing the 5th edition of Smoqua that will win you over with its diverse content, inspiring people, and warm atmosphere. LORI, together with our dear partners PaRiter and GSG, invite all persons of goodwill, an open mind and heart to join us in the new edition of joint reflection, conversation, mingling…'' says the Facebook description of the event.

As in previous years, Smoqua reminds visitors that they are offering a safe space for people that are different. For those that don't fit into gender and sex norms and boxes, but also those who are in need of open conversations, discussions, gaining new knowledge, and are curious about new realisations.

The 2021 edition is lead by a theme titled ''Uncharted territories''. In that spirit, Smoqua's events will explore the boundaries of the physical and the material within patriarchal structures, with the question of the body being the starting point. Activists and artists from all over Europe (the UK, Greece, Serbia, Poland, and France, to name a few) will participate in the programme. You canssee the whole programme as well as the venues and locations of all of the events here.

''Let’s dive together into queer and feminist culture through performances, an exhibition, discussions, workshops, lectures, a theatre play, the Queer-UP! Party and other various activities,'' says Smoqua.

The main organiser, the LORI association, is a Lesbian Organisation from Rijeka. Founded way back in October 2000, the organisation aims to inform and sensitise the public to accept sexual and gender minorities, as well as eradicate prejudice and homo/bi/transphobia. In a nutshell, their aim is to totally eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender/sex identity and/or gender expression and secure full equality under the law.

As TCN previously wrote, Croatia is rated to be the 39th most popular country for LGBTQ visitors in the world. In the summer of 2021, a famous actor and gay icon, Neil Patrick Harris visited the lovely Croatian Island of Hvar. 2021 and 2020, however, were also sadly noted for homophobic incidents.

From burning a gay effigy during an Imotski carnival in February 2020, a physical attack in Zagreb's Maksimir Park against a gay man, as well as several incidents against the participants during the 2021 Zagreb Gay Pride, Croatia isn't without its issues in this regard.

Learn more about LGBT rights in Croatia and what LGBT tourists should know on our TC page.

For more about LGBT in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page

Friday, 1 October 2021

Croatian Toys Exhibition: Child Nostalgia Project by Zagreb Museums

October 1, 2021 - The Croatian Toys Exhibition "Toys-Childhood Forever", displays toys from as early as the 19th century. Numerous Zagreb museums took part in this project lead by the Ethnographic Museum.

The pandemic and earthquakes caused some setbacks to events and cultural happenings in Zagreb, but art and culture in the capital of Croatia quickly got back on its feet (as culture and art in Croatia are sadly used to harsh conditions).

True, some museums such as the School Museum still await reconstruction, but other museums not only slowly re-opened, a cluster even managed to pull off a suitable programme for International Museum Day earlier in 2021. Zagreb's Ethnographic Museum, along with other museums, continues to keep culture alive both for citizens and visitors.

''Toys-Childhood Forever'' is a project the Ethnographic Museum which started in June and will continue all the way until May 22, 2022.

Eleven guest exhibitions from other museums across the city (in the small gallery on the first floor of the Ethnographic Museum), as well as the central exhibition, have been modified to children (but its not forbidden for adults), and will present traditional, artistic and industrial kids toys manufactured in Croatia from the 19th century until today. These include showcasing the work of noted Croatian artists that worked with known foreign clients and museums.

The author of the project is dD. Iris Biškupić Bašić while the graphic solutions for the exhibitions were managed by Nikolina Jelavić Mitrović. Financial support was secured by the Croatian Ministry of Culture and the Zagreb City Culture Office.

''The project includes animated movies from the production of Zagreb Film within the famous Zagreb School of Animated Film. There are also educational workshops and thematic exhibitions of other Zagreb Museums,'' reads the description on the official Zagreb City website.

It's worth pointing out that the Zagreb School of Animated Film is an iconic animation style that originates from the city and was active from the late 50's to the 80's. The style became particularly respected thanks to Dušan Vukotić and his animated film Surogat, which, as TCN previously wrote, is the only Croatian film to win Oscar Academy Award back in 1962.

Other Museums involved in this project include the Museum of Arts and Crafts, the Croatian History Museum, the Croatian School Museum, the Archaeological Museum, the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, the Croatian Sport Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The authors of the visiting exhibitions are the curators from the aforementioned museums, and noted Croatian toy designers Jasmina Kosanović and Lea Vavra are enrolled in the project too. Until May 22, 2022, both visitors and locals have an excellent opportunity to see the history of children's entertainment as well as a chance to see neat craftsmanship that is no child's play to achieve.

Learn more about Croatian museums on our TC page.

For more about culture in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Vukovar Franciscan Monastery Virtual Tour: New Screen Tourism Addition

September 30, 2021 - The Vukovar Franciscan Monastery Virtual Tour is a new addition allowing people to get better acquainted with this amazing tourist site even if you cannot travel to this Eastern Croatian town.

We wish you a pleasant tour filled with God's grace - says the robotic female voice as you click this link and start exploring Vukovar's Franciscan Monastery online. The recently launched option of 360° sightseeing this iconic location in the Eastern town of Vukovar in Slavonia (referred to as the ''Hero City'' due to its suffering in the Homeland War) is an excellent innovation for what's become known as "screen tourism". Whatever your reasons for not being able to physically get to Vukovar at the moment, the Vukovar Franciscan Monastery Virtual Tour is always ready for you to take part.

''The QtouR virtual guide is implemented in the entire complex of the Franciscan monastery in Vukovar, covering over 3,500 square metres. The virtual tour offers visitors an online tour of the museum over two floors, the church, the script, the bell tower with the watchtower, the wine cellar…'' listed the Culture.net website.

Indeed, with this app (its development helped by the Croatian Ministry of Culture), you can explore the Franciscan monastery from every angle you'd usually be allowed to see during your visit. You can either navigate with your mouse or mousepad or even your keyboard to choose which direction you want to go in. From exploring indoors to heading out into the back yard, you can even soak up the breathtaking view of the nearby Danube river.

''Franciscans have had their presence noted in Slavonia and Srijem ever since the 14th century. Sadly, during the Turkish (Ottoman) occupation of these parts, every historical record of their activities was destroyed. Some traces can still be found in various documents of the Franciscan order and in the Vatican archives, however. What we know for sure is that the Franciscans of the Bosne Srebrene (Silver Bosnia) were the only messengers, bishops, priests, and guardians of the Catholic faith in these areas under Ottoman rule,'' reads the official website of Vukovar's Franciscan monastery.

Both the monastery and the church are named after saints Filip and Jakov (Phillip and Jacob). The church was completed in 1733 while the monastery was built in 1736.

''The monastery, along with the church with its monumental architecture, has been home to priceless artistic and cultural treasures for centuries now. It possessed a rich inventory and a library with rare editions along with a small picture gallery. By the sheer complexity of its heritage, it was placed amongst the most valuable memorial sites in continental Croatia,'' explains the monastery's official website.

The history of Vukovar is often clouded by the tragedies of the Homeland War, but while that is and will forever be of enormous significance, there is much more to it than that.

As TCN wrote, the history of Vukovar runs much deeper than the horrendous events which took place at the end of the 20th century, and Croatian historical and social sciences are more than aware of the fact. This was evident in the presentation of the book ''The Cultural Identity of Vukovar – A Contribution to Investigating Heritage and Successors''.  

Additionally, as evidenced by the VukovART festival earlier this year, we can see that this town at the very border of Eastern Croatia and Serbia has much more to offer than just the memory of death, war crimes and misery brought about by bullets, hate, and war.

Learn more about Vukovar in our TC guide

For more about history in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 29 September 2021

Tricky Women/Tricky Realities Festival Showcases Female Animation Authors

September 29, 2021 - The Tricky Women/Tricky Realities Festival online event presents Croatia with thirteen female animation authors who talk about gender inequality and other issues of the modern world.

Online event hosting obviously gained momentum during the coronavirus pandemic, as going out became risky for public health. The advent of the vaccine has seen Croatia slowly but steadily returning back to public event hosting, but there are some exceptions. Maybe it's the extra precauiton due to Croatian vaccine scepticism, or maybe just the possibility of less expensive organisation and more potential for attending regardless of your location on the map, but some events have remained online.

One such event is the Tricky Women/Tricky Realities Festival, a Vienna Film festival described by Culturenet as the only animated film festival focused on female authors. Organised by the Vox Feminae feminist news portal and the Austrian Culture Forum (AKF), the festival is being streamed on the websites of the organisers until October 10, making this an official (but only online) visit of the festival to Croatia. 13 short animated movies are selected for the online screening.

''From gender equality to digitalisation, from human and workers rights do social, economic and ecological issues, the Tricky Women/Tricky Realities Festival questions social and political reality from the feminist art perspective, pointing out social inequality in a new and innovative way,'' describes the Culturenet website.

The festival usually occurs on March 8 to commemorate International Women's Day. TCN is also no stranger to writing about noted women from Croatia's history or about current issues with gender equality, on March 8 and of course on many other days too.

The authors whose short animated work the festival presents are: Maya Yonesho, Susi Jirkuff, Ani Antonova, Rebecca Akoun, Veronika Schubert, Sabine Groschup, Beate Hecher i Markus Keim, Billy Roisz, Kathrin Steinbacher and Anna Vasof.

The films showcased are subtitled in English, making the event approachable to non-Croatian speakers too. As the 2021 edition is in progress, the plans for the 2022 edition are already ongoing. Interested female authors can apply for their work to be shown by October 4 this year, and the 2022 festival screening is scheduled from March 9-13 in 2022.

''We're proud to be able to announce a new award: The Maria Lassnig Golden Film Reel for outstanding animation will be awarded for the very first time in 2022. Sponsored by the Maria Lassnig Foundation, it is worth 10,000 euros and will be awarded annually. An international expert jury will select the winner from the films shown in the International Competition of our festival,'' announced the festival's official website.

The award, named after Maria Lasnig (1919-2014), who was a pioneer of experimental animation and one of the first women in the German-speaking world to be appointed to a professorship in art, shows this valuable festival is here to stay.

Learn more about Filming in Croatia in our TC guide.

For more about culture in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

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