Antun Vrdoljak

Antun Vrdoljak
Born (1931-06-05) 5 June 1931
Imotski, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Occupation Film actor/director, screenwriter, activist, politician
Years active 1965-2010

Antun Vrdoljak (born 4 June 1931) is a prominent Croatian film actor and director, sports official, and head of Croatian Radiotelevision during the Yugoslav wars. Between the 1960s and early 1990s he was mainly a film artist. In the early 1990s he became involved in politics and became a prominent member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which led to his appointment to a series of offices. He was director general of Croatian Radiotelevision (1991–95), and the president of the Croatian Olympic Committee (1991–2000).


Born in Imotski, Vrdoljak studied acting at the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Art. His acting debut was in a 1957 film It Was Not in Vain (Nije bilo uzalud) by Nikola Tanhofer. In 1958, he appeared in Tanhofer's best known film H-8 to much critical acclaim. In the late 1960s, Vrdoljak gradually switched to film directing. Following the events of the Croatian Spring (1968–71), Vrdoljak became associated with Croatian nationalism. Authorities nevertheless allowed him to continue with his career. This included lavish adaptations of Croatian literary classics such as Kiklop (1982) and Glembajevi (1988).

When first democratic elections were announced in Croatia, Vrdoljak was among 200 top intellectuals publicly endorsing the moderate Coalition of People's Accord. By the end of campaign, he switched his support for the more hardline Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Franjo Tuđman, with whom he developed a close friendship. On 30 May 1990 the new democratically elected Croatian Parliament convened and Franjo Tuđman was elected President of Croatia. Vrdoljak became one of country's six vice-presidents. As such, he was entrusted with the supervision of 1990 European Championships in Athletics in Split.


In December 1990, a new Croatian Constitution was adopted, ending the office of vice-president. A few months later, Vrdoljak was appointed to the post of general manager of Croatian Radiotelevision (HRTV), where he promoted Tuđman and the HDZ, working hard to prevent any criticism of government on the programme, while Croatian opposition parties were ignored. Vrdoljak garnered a degree of notoriety for saying television "must become a cathedral of the Croatian spirit".[1]

On 16 September 1991, guards at the entrances of the HRT building told more than 300 employees that their passes were no longer valid. The move was attributed to "security reasons". Most of those on the security blacklists were Serbs or married to Serbs. Others may have had a relative in the Yugoslav Army or did not publicly support the HDZ.[2] Ivan Parać, Vrdoljak's successor, charged him with corruption.[1] To the opposition, Vrdoljak had been the embodiment of HDZ domination of the media. Although he maintained his seat in Parliament and other positions, he gradually retired from both politics and Tuđman's inner circle.[1]

Return to filmmaking

After the HDZ lost power in 2000, Vrdoljak decided to return to film-making. He made news in 2006 due to a quarrel and a physical altercation with fellow filmmaker, Lordan Zafranović.[3]

Art work

He began his career as an actor and was praised for his role in now classic 1958 film H-8, directed by Nikola Tanhofer. He received praise for his two early films as a director and screenwriter, Kad čuješ zvona (When You Hear the Bells, 1969) and U gori raste zelen bor (A Green Pine Tree grows on the Mountain, 1971). Both films were based on the diaries of Croatian Partisan leader Ivan Šibl. When You Hear the Bells was entered into the 6th Moscow International Film Festival, where it won a Silver Prize.[4]

Vrdoljak worked on television, with his 1972 mini-series Prosjaci i sinovi, based on the script (and later the novel) by Ivan Raos, later receiving a cult status. The series was shown only in 1984, due to Raos' status as a "Croatian nationalist". Vrdoljak also garnered favorable attention for his adaptations of Kiklop (from the novel by Ranko Marinković, 1982) and Glembajevi (from the play by Miroslav Krleža, 1988). Both movies were broadcast in their longer TV versions. After securing funding from new government, he directed Duga mračna noć (The Long Dark Night), a mini-series about World War II in Slavonia.


At the 1960 Pula Film Festival, the Yugoslav equivalent of Oscars, he won a Golden Arena for his role in Veljko Bulajić's nuclear holocaust film Rat (known in the USA as Atomic War Bride).


Vrdoljak was married twice. Divorced from his first wife, with whom he had one child, he remarried and has three other children. He is the father-in-law of actor Goran Višnjić who is married to Vrdoljak's daughter, Ivana, an artist known as Eva Višnjić/Eva Visnjic.



  1. 1 2 3 Vrdoljak's removal from HRTV Archived 9 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine.; 2 February 1996.
  2. Kemal Kurspahić. "Serbo-Croatian War: Lying For The Homeland", Prime Time Crime: Balkan Media in War and Peace, p. 67; ISBN 1929223382
  3. Zafranović: Nisam udario Vrdoljaka Archived 13 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine.,; accessed 12 March 2016. (Croatian)
  4. "6th Moscow International Film Festival (1969)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2012.

External links

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Post established
President of the Croatian Olympic Committee
Succeeded by
Zdravko Hebel
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