"I am driven by stories that tell us something important about ourselves and the society we have built"
Industry Report: Produce - Co-Produce...
Danijel Pek • Producer, Antitalent
We talked to Danijel Pek, producer for Croatian company Antitalent, on the occasion of his participation in EFP's Producers on the Move
Croatian producer Danijel Pek founded the production company Antitalent in 2007 to focus on film, TV and online content. Through it he made two acclaimed films by Nevio Marasović, Vis-à-Vis [+see also:
interview: Nevio Marasovic & Rakan Rus…
film profile] (2013) and Goran [+see also:
interview: Nevio Marasović
film profile] (2016). In addition, in 2015 he launched the rental company CineCro which services international productions shooting in Croatia. We talked to Pek on the occasion of his participation in EFP's Producers on the Move.
Cineuropa: You have been making both audience-friendly and challenging arthouse films. What would you say drives you in filmmaking?
Danijel Pek: Before filmmaking, I was working for years as a journalist in radio and television. I loved it, it was my dream job since childhood. I remember the moment when I decided to start working in film: I read an interview with Robert Redford as the founder of Sundance, and he said journalism was dead and its role was now in the hands of filmmakers.
One of my favourite professors in the film school used to say: "Don’t forget, we are a storytelling school." I will always keep this as reminder of what we should be doing in the first place, regardless if the result of our work is an arthouse film, crowdpleaser or anything in between.
Based on these two instances, I would say I am driven by stories that tell us something important about ourselves and the society we have built. We need a purpose in life and I think cinema is one of the things we as a species have come up with that can at least sometimes provide that to us.
Can you tell us a bit about the films you are currently working on?
We are in last stage of post-production with the documentary Storkman by Tomislav Jelinčić and the debut fiction feature Murina by Antoneta A Kusijanović. We spent five producing Storkman, while Murina was filmed in August/September 2019, but it was so ambitious and demanding that it seems like it took give years too. Both are great films by talented authors and I can't wait we share them with audiences.
We are at the moment developing Dark Mother Earth, a fiction feature by Rok Biček (Class Enemy [+see also:
interview: Rok Biček
interview: Rok Bicek
interview: Rok Bicek
film profile]), and this is our most important project so far. It is based on my favourite Croatian novel of the same title by the author Kristian Novak. It has been published in English by Amazon Crossing and I strongly recommend it.
We have a Croatian writer and producer and a Slovenian director, and we want to do this production in a new and ambitious way, as a parity co-production between Croatia and Slovenia. I believe this can be good model for co-producing in a “new normal“ where we will have many more challenges for our films and film funds.
How do you see the production and distribution situation in Croatia pre-Covid crisis and how do you expect it to develop when things go back to some kind of normal? Also, what is your opinion of the interest of Croatian audiences in local films?
Production in Croatia is in a challenging situation. The services for international productions have been growing exponentially and projects have been getting increasingly attractive and ambitious. On the other hand, production of Croatian films got into a deadlock a few years ago when ignorant politicians almost destroyed our film fund in just a few months. Now it is coming back on track, but with the current situation I expect it will be harder to produce local films.
As a producer I am focused on the creative side of the job, that's what I am interested in. So making Croatian films is more creative and more personally fulfilling for me. Business-wise, it is easier and wiser to stick with service productions and I expect this will be a choice for each of us to make. For now I am managing to do both.
Regarding distribution, I really wish my colleagues succeed in opening open air and smaller cinemas in Croatia in the coming weeks. I think we underestimate the interest in local films. In the past we've had Croatian films that matched theatrical figures of Harry Potter films. Unfortunately, we don’t produce enough of such films to change the public perception. Audiences and uninformed commentators are often comparing figures for Croatian arthouse film with Star Wars and the like. I like Star Wars but such a comparison makes no sense. A film is both a product and work of art. Some are more inclined to one or the other side of this lever, but both sides are important and worthy.
What do you expect from your participation in Producers on the Move?
I am happy and proud to be selected among this great company. There are colleagues in this year's edition whom I know from before and already consider friends. I believe I will be able to say the same for many others that I will meet now.
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