The people of Hvar Town are presented with a mirror on screen, as Fishermen’s Conversations premieres, a film documenting the lives of its fishermen against the backdrop of its party tourism.
The setting could not have been more poignant – in a building linked to the hotel where organised tourism in Europe began in 1868, and with a traditionial sailboat festival in the harbour nearby harking back to a sailing era gone by – as the much anticipated premiere of Fishermen’s Conversations took place in the City Loggia in Hvar Town on October 9, 2015, an event attended by Total Croatia News.
Four years in the making, the film is a dedication to the grandfather of writer and director Chiara Bove Makiedo, who was from the island’s traditional fishing community and died when she was just three. The film is an imaginary conversation in Italian (with English subtitles) between granddaughter and grandfather, in which she tracks the lives, humour, challenges and daily chores of the lives of Hvar’s fishermen.
Their simple and quiet lifestyle is in direct contrast with the island’s growing party tourism scene, and the film brilliantly contrasts the two, by following the antics of the party revellers and the early rising fishermen at the same time in the small hours. It is a reminder of the traditions and heritage of the island, as well as a warning on the dangers of encroachment on traditional life by the new party culture. The prospect of encroachment from another source – EU membership – is also dealt with.
The sentiment of the sell-out audience was perhaps best summed up by a comment from Katia Zaninovic Dawnay on the official film Facebook page this morning:
“Thank you for making us feel alive again, thank you for making us reconnect with what is authentically ours, thank you for handing us over a mirror to see where we are coming from, but also where we are heading to…. Someone had to do it…. and you did so powerfully, at times shockingly, and yet so beautifully to the point of tears… it was an honour to be at the Hvar premiere last night…”
Prior to the screening, TCN caught up with writer and producer Chiara Bove Makiedo on what was clearly a very important and emotional night for the young director.
Tonight is obviously a very emotional occasion for you. Tell us what it means to you.
It will be very emotional. After a lot of time researching and developing the film, finally I get to show it to the people of Hvar, and to the fishermen of Hvar. They will finally get to see what I have been working on all these years, and I hope they are proud and that they now understand what I have been doing all this time, spending hours and hours with my camera in their company. They very kindly let me into their lives, and I hope they like it.
The film is four years in the making on a tiny budget of just 18,000 euro. What has been the most challenging part?
Trying to find a story to make it flow. I did not just want a documentary, an observation, but I wanted to put some sentiment into the film, to have an imaginary conversation with the grandfather I never met. That took a lot of time to figure out, as well as the decision to include myself, which I did not want to do, but it turned out to be the strongest way.
Although this is the first screening for the public, Fishermen’s Conversations has already been shown at three festivals – in London, Iceland and in Vukovar, here in Croatia. What has the reaction been?
The reaction has been very positive. It took time, but then there was one call after the other. People seem to like it. We can’t wait to start distributing the film. We are still figuring out the best way to do that.
You obviously have the island of Hvar in your heart and in your blood. How do you feel the island is changing?
I have been coming here every year since I was a child, and I have witnessed change, tourism change in the summer with the rise of the party scene. I do not want to point fingers at anyone, but I hope that by making the fishermen the focal point of the film, we can show people what is the true identity of the island, and it will remind people and our visitors of that. It might not make a huge difference, but I hope it will make a difference.
There are two more screenings of Fishermen’s Conversations scheduled, once more in Hvar Town tomorrow night, and in Jelsa on October 12.