Vinko Brešan

Vinko Brešan

Vinko Brešan at 2009 KVIFF
Born (1964-02-03) 3 February 1964
Zagreb, Croatia
Occupation Film director
Years active 1994-present
Spouse(s) Sandra Botica

Vinko Brešan (Serbo-Croatian pronunciation: [ʋîːŋko brěʃan]; born 3 February 1964) is a Croatian film director who emerged into international renown with three critically acclaimed and award-winning films that, each in its own way, broke some of the perceived taboos of Croatian cinema in the 1990s.

Brešan was born in Zagreb to writer Jela Godlar, who is of part Jewish[1] descent, and famous playwright Ivo Brešan. He studied Philosophy and Comparative Literature at the University of Zagreb, as well as Film and Television Direction at the university's Academy of Dramatic Arts. As a student, he was awarded the Oberhausen debutant prize for his short film Naša burza ("Our Stock Exchange") in 1988.

In 1994 and 1995, Brešan was awarded the Oktavijan prize at the Days of Croatian Film festival for Zajednički ručak ("Lunch Together") and Hodnik ("The Corridor") respectively.

His first feature-length film Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku ("How the War Started on My Island"), is a humorous microcosmic take on the Yugoslav Wars set in the Dalmatian Adriatic. The film was awarded the Velika zlatna arena ("Grand Golden Arena") for cinematography at the Pula Film Festival and Grand Prize at the 1997 Cottbus Film Festival of Young East European Cinema. It proved to be a tremendous commercial success as well, beating Independence Day at the Croatian box office in 1996 with over 300,000 viewers, and was screened at 32 international film festivals, including Toronto and Montreal.

Brešan achieved similar international and domestic success with his 1999 black comedy Marshal Tito's Spirit, a satirical look at how unrepentant communists and new capitalists react to the reported appearance of the ghost of Marshal Tito on their small Adriatic island. It was awarded the Wolfgang Staudte Prize and received Special Mention from the Reader Jury of the Berliner Zeitung at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2000. Brešan also won Best Director at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for the film in the same year. Maršal, like its predecessor, was scripted in collaboration with Brešan's playwright father, Ivo, and also became a Croatian box office hit despite being released in a difficult economic period.

Perhaps the most controversial part of Brešan's opus to date is the 2003 war drama Svjedoci ("Witnesses"), based on the novel Ovce od gipsa ("Alabaster Sheep") by Jurica Pavičić. Reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, it explores the human complexities and moral murkiness of war through multiple perspectives and flashbacks surrounding the unintended murder of an alleged Serb smuggler by three Croatian soldiers returning from the front in Karlovac. The film was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 2004 Berlinale and received the Peace Film Award as well as a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury. It also won the Philip Morris Award at Karlovy Vary in the same year. Notably, Serbian actress Mirjana Karanović was cast in the role of a Croatian war widow—a decision Brešan had to defend as the film drew protests from the Croatian Party of Rights and right-wing sections of the Croatian public.

Vinko Brešan is married to his editor Sandra Botica, with whom he has two sons - Ivan (b. 1996) and Niko (b. 2000).

He was appointed Director of Zagreb Film in December 2004.



  1. Ferić, Diana (2012-03-31). "Roman Jele Godlar uvršen u Antologiju hrvatske židovske književnosti". MOK Šibenik News - portal grada Šibenika (in Croatian). Retrieved 2013-05-11.
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