The idyllic landscapes of Croatia in Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s Murina
2021 Cannes Film winner Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic uses the Croatian landscape once again for her film Murina. With a production assist from Martin Scorsese, the use of the island backdrop is an integral component of the tumultuous narrative. The film is set to be released 15 July 2022 in New York and Los Angeles.
Kusijanovic stated: “I wrote 'Murina for her but also wrote it for myself. I wrote it for many women around the world and especially in Croatia."
A go to double for many locations, the low mountains and crisp blue coastal waters of Croatia capture the quintessential Mediterranean backdrop. However, in Kusijonovic’s Murina, the location was appreciated in its unaltered form. The Croatian setting was first explored for her short film Into the Blue, the inspiration behind Murina. Used as a place of refuge in her award-winning 22-minute film, the tranquility of the islands offers more than just the picturesque scenes. An integral component of the narrative, the relocation of the mother and daughter from turmoil to safety exemplifies the paradisiacal nature of the Croatian landscape. Following similar familial disruption, Murina is a thriller that follows a 17-year-old girl caught between a cruel father and complacent mother. The beauties of Croatia against the chaotic narrative further emphasises the intensity of the story and its characters.
Kusijanovic’s Croatian lineage allows her to apply her experiences to the film. Raised in Dubrovnik, her small-town values seep through the specificity of the locations she chooses to capture. With her personal perspective, the filmed spaces are intimately approached and utilised to enhance the script. Concerned with reflecting the realities of her upbringing and the people whom she encountered throughout her early life, the placement of the characters within the different locations were done with an intention that not only furthers the reception of her work, but also presents a unique interpretation of the country. Having received many positive messages about her portrayal of Murina she believes she has achieved her hopes of creating a relatable piece of content for the Croatian local and global audiences alike.
"That is the audience that needs this film," Kusijanović added. "Misogyny and disrespect of women is the same everywhere. It just has different names in different countries."
Beyond the visual aesthetics of the land, Croatia has held onto the reputation as one of the most active production spots in the world. With a 30% cash rebate incentive upon meeting the minimum spending requirements for production, the country shows a keen interest in preserving the integrity of the local audio-visual industry, alongside attracting international involvement. Required to use local crew and cast within the production process, the national film making industry is evidently supported and is not showing any signs of slowing down.
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