Film Producer Branko Lustig Becomes Honorary Citizen of Zagreb

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The Zagreb City Assembly has decided to name the prominent film producer and double Oscar-winner Branko Lustig as the honorary citizen of Zagreb. Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić submitted the proposal, reports Jutarnji List on April 23, 2019.

Lustig received the tribute for “an extraordinary contribution to the promotion of the values of a democratic society, film art and culture, and mutual understanding.” The proposal also points out that Lustig is the only Croatian winner of two Oscars.

HDZ’s assemblywoman Dubravka Brezak Stamać noted in the debate that Lustig should have been honoured much earlier, and SDP’s assemblyman Matej Mišić also supported the decision.

This is not the first such honour for Lustig. He was named as an honorary citizen of Osijek in 2010 and honorary citizen of Čakovec in 2017. In 1994, Lustig was awarded the Order of Trpimir for promoting the international position and reputation of the Republic of Croatia.

In his career, he has received a number of significant international awards. For example, in 2014, the French president awarded him with the knightly order for arts and literature, and he was included among the top 50 best filmmakers of all time.

“My number was A3317. It is a long way from Auschwitz to this stage. Those who died obliged me to keep talking about it,” Lustig said after winning Oscar in 1993 as a producer of Schindler’s List.

He was born in Osijek in 1932. Because of his Jewish origin, he was detained in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps during the Second World War. Most of his family members perished in concentration camps across Europe, including his grandmother who was killed in a gas chamber and father who was killed in Čakovec. He managed to survive the horrors of the camps. His experience from the camps was embedded in Schindler’s List, a film by Steven Spielberg, which convincingly portrayed the painful scenes from concentration camps.

Lustig graduated as an actor at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb in 1955 and started his professional career in Zagreb’s Jadran Film, at that time a large film production and distribution company. He was involved in almost all foreign film productions in the former Yugoslavia. He worked as a location manager, assistant director, production assistant and producer, and has played smaller roles in several movies.

In 1988, Lustig moved to the United States, where he continued to build his film career, primarily as a producer. He worked closely with prominent directors Steven Spielberg and Ridley Scott and produced many acclaimed and award-winning films, such as Black Hawk Down, Hannibal, Kingdom of Heaven, American Gangster.

Two films from that period – Schindler’s List and Gladiator – brought him Oscar and BAFTA awards. He has donated his Academy Award for Schindler’s List to the Yad Vashem Museum in Jerusalem.

Since 2008, he has been president of the Festival of Tolerance in Zagreb, which was known until a few years ago as the Jewish Film Festival. It is organised every year in Zagreb, as well as in towns of several other countries of the region.

Translated from Jutarnji List.

More film news can be found in the Lifestyle section.


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