This weekend, June 21-23, at the American Cinematheque Egyptian and Aero Theaters, Los Angeles film lovers will have a chance to see an interesting review of recent Croatian cinema. We have talked to Kino Croatia producer Matko B. Malinger.
Bijan Tehrani: Please tell us about the Kick-off party of Kino Croatia and how it went.
Matko B. Malinger: We had the Kino Croatia 2013 Kick-Off party at the DOMA Restaurant in Beverly Hills. They have a very charming loft upstairs – a dream place for special events. You can screen films there and have 70 – 80 people seated at the tables. We had to bring in extra chairs… In attendance were our sponsors and supporters that obtained All Event Passes. We had special guests too: actors, directors, producers, composers… as well as filmmakers and the main character from Cooking for Hollywood, the documentary film we screened that night. Great people, delicious food from DOMA, and Grgich Hills wines made this event extraordinary.
BT: Cooking For Hollywood is a very interesting film that reveals a relationship between Croatia and Hollywood that nobody knew about, how did you get involved in that project?
MM: Years ago, I met Tony Kerum through a common friend, a cinematographer from Croatia. I was fascinated with his life story and accomplishments. It’s not just excellent food he serves at the most exotic locations, movie sets of top productions around the World. It’s his personality that makes him a caterer of choice for so many big names in Hollywood for more than 30 years now. When they were asked to participate in this documentary, all of them were eager to do it – they all wanted to tell us how special and important for them Tony was. For those that didn’t have a chance to watch it, Cooking for Hollywood is now available on YouTube.
BT: This is the second year of revived Croatian film series at American Cinematheque, under the name Kino Croatia. The sign of progress in comparison to the last year is obvious.
MM: The first series of Croatian films at American Cinematheque was presented more then 12 years ago and it was happening periodically until 2008. Last year it was revived with the ambition to become an annual event.
We always had good films, interesting guests/filmmakers and strong support from Croatian government offices such as the Consulate General of Croatia in Los Angeles and the Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs. But, since HAVC – Croatian Audiovisual Center was formed in Zagreb, it became an important partner, making logistics of bringing Croatian films to Los Angeles much easier. This year on July 1st, Croatia is becoming a member of European Union and we decided to make a special edition of Kino Croatia reflecting and celebrating Croatia’s European identity.
This ambitious project was asking for stronger and more efficient structure. After being involved from the first edition and playing major roll in most of the previous presentations of Croatian film in Los Angeles, I was asked to step forward and take responsibility of producing Kino Croatia. I took it in my hands and if anything goes wrong it is now all my fault.
We started with no budget, but I’m more than happy with the response from sponsors and supporters. The more than 24 years I’ve spent living and working in this city did help as well. We ended up with well over $30,000.00 in goods and services donated to Kino Croatia 2013 – and we don’t count here the cost of the venues and services provided by our partner American Cinematheque (another $12,000.00 at least) or costs of providing films, trailers and bringing the filmmakers to L.A., which is all covered by HAVC.
Thanks to this generous support we are able to offer a spectacular opening night at the legendary Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and VIP Zone with delicious food and drinks for the following nights at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.
BT: Will there be any first time US screenings among the Croatian films of the festival? Is there any film that we should look for?
MM: They are all different and special in their own way. We open with a charming romantic comedy, Sonja and the Bull, at the Egyptian. On Saturday we move to the Aero to screen two totally different films. First we have Night Boats, delightful comedy that approaches old age with a sense of optimism and hope. Then we switch to a dark drama, Vegetarian Cannibal, dealing with tough global issues of corruption, abortion, sex and crime. Both films screened on Sunday are US premiers. The Mysterious Boy is the latest box office hit in Croatia, released just a couple of months ago. It’s a wonderful adventure movie for all ages. We are closing with a family drama Kotlovina, that swept Croatia’s Pula Film Festival, taking home awards for Best Film, Screenplay, Actress and more.
BT: Are there any guest filmmakers attending the festival?
MM: We’ll have Q&A with two directors Vlatka Vorkapic (Sonja And The Bull) and Igor Mirkovic (Night Boats), for the first two nights. On the closing night we have a special guest, professor Branko Ivanda, director of several films we’ve screened previous years (Lea and Darija, Horseman).
BT: Are there any side events happening during the Kino Croatia festival?
MM: In association with our partner E.L.M.A. (European Languages & Movies in America), we’ll present an exhibition of posters from European film festivals in L.A. It will be held during the Opening Night, to recognize and honor the people and organizations that bring European films to Los Angeles. The Opening night reception will culminate with singers from various European countries performing in their native languages. We already screened one documentary, Cooking for Hollywood, at our Kick-off Party and we will have a follow-up event on August 29. The screening of yet another fascinating life story: Like the Old Vine, about Mike Grgich, 90 years old acclaimed American winemaker of Croatian decent, will take place at the Shade Hotel Courtyard in Manhattan Beach.
BT: Please tell us more about sponsors of the festival.
MM: Kino Croatia is presented in collaboration with American Cinematheque, Consulate General of the Republic of Croatia in Los Angeles, HAVC – Croatian Audiovisual Center, Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and Ministry of Culture; with support from E.L.M.A. (European Languages and Movies in America) and Croatian National Association.
This year we have an impressive list of sponsors including: Tony’s Food Services, Sunce Winery, DOMA Restaurant, Grgich Hills Estate, The Courtyard Kitchen, Shade Hotel, Cafe LuMar, Jana Water, Dental Esthetics Center, BIOTEST Anti-aging & Wellness, Artukovich, Inc, Dream Team Band, South Bay Dental Esthetics, Aroma Cafe, Uprinting, Radio Kapija and Cinema Without Borders.
BT: How can film fans attend Kino Croatia?
MM: They can obtain All Events Passes, which is a way to support Kino Croatia, or simply go to americancinematheque.com and follow the TICKETS link to purchase tickets for individual screening, the same way as for any other American Cinematheque programming. For information about All Events Passes and all the other details about Kino Croatia 2013, they can check Kino Croatia in L.A. on Facebook.