The Fra Ma Fu Festival – Celebrating More than Reporters and Reportage

Total Croatia News


The third edition of the Fra Ma Fu Festival took place from 7-10 September

The festival is devoted to reporters and reportage as a journalistic form. The organiser is the SINKO Institute from Virovitica and Virovitica-Podravina County branch of the Croatian Journalism Society. It is a unique festival with an accent on reportage and journalism, but with strong ingredients of comics, art, gastronomy and music. Those four days the entire town pulsed in the rhythm of the festival. Even the local coffee bars served sugar with festival branding.

Fra Ma Fu is the pseudonym of Franjo Martin Fuis, born in Virovitica, the founder of the Croatian tourism, photography and social reportage, also the author of scripts for comics made by Andrija Maurović. He published his first story named “Poor Vanja” at age 19. In 1934 he became a professional reporter of the Novosti magazine, in which he published reportages named “Down the Precipice of Poverty.” E would dress up as a vagabond and beggar in order to infiltrate among the lowest social layers and as an insider write stories of their lives and sufferings. He is also the author of a collection of stories “Secret of the Saint Luke Lighthouse,” as well as the publisher of the comic revue “Mickey Strip.”


The festival began on Thursday with a paper airplane workshop and puzzle competition, led by Šime Strikoman. Strikoman is a graduated television and film cameraman, former photography editor in magazines Polet and Start, and is recently known for millennial photographs, 575 of them so far. Puzzles contain motives from his series “Strikoman’s Millennial World,” and this time he used the one photographed at the first Fra Ma Fu Festival in 2015 with an airplane. The airplane was chosen as Franjo Martin Fuis was also a passionate pilot, and his life also ended in an airplane accident, during his attempt to join the partisans.

At the same time as the Strikoman workshop began the reportage creation workshop, led by Mirko Mlakar during the first three festival days. Some twenty participants from the journalism section of the Catholic classical gymnasium from Virovitica attended, together with their principal Mario Voronjecki. On the last day of the reportage workshop a lecture was held by Vladimir Jurišić, last year’s recipient of the Fra Ma Fu award for best reportage.

The programme continued in the afternoon hours with an exhibition of war photographs by Rudi Vanđija and Hrvoje Svoboda, photography exhibition “America” by Boris Kozjak and a painting exhibition “Places from My Dreams” by Darko Jovanović. Paintings from this series were inspired by locations from literary and journalistic works of Franjo Martin Fuis. Next came the entertainment programme with stand-up comedian Željko Grmuša and the music group Rock Trio.

On Friday Šime Strikoman took a millennial photograph outside the Janković Manor heritage hotel in Kapela Dvor. Guests were shown a movie about activities on the restoration of all castles and manors in Virovitica-Podravina County.

The afternoon programme took place in the Virovitica town library where a permanent exhibition was opened of Franjo Martin Fuis, including his paintings, sculpture, bicycle from his era and similar objects.

The programme began with the opening of the exhibition “I Love Comics,” by Veljko Krulčić who has recently printed several comic books with scenarios written by Franjo Martin Fuis. This exhibition with some thirty panels gives an overview of Fuis’ comic book opus. Next came a promotion of the comic book fanzine “Gavran,” published by the Virovitica Strip Klub 85. The club organised the Fra Ma Fu Festival in 2009. After a five year pause the festival was resurrected, this time as a festival of reporters and reportage with significant focus on comics. The comic book fanzine “Gavran” was presented by cartoonist and designer Davor Šunk, also responsible for the visual identity of the festival.

The programme continued with a lecture by Milovan Buchberger who devoted himself to the exploration of life and death of Franjo Martin Fuis. He once came upon an idea to climb the volcanic island Jabuka in the Adriatic. Convinced he was pioneering the feat, he was rebutted by friends and told Fuis had done so already in 1935, documented in the reportage “Nine Zanki’s on top of Jabuka.” Afterwards Buchberger read all the literary legacy of Franjo Martin Fuis and was fascinated by his person and work. He also looked into the circumstances of Fuis’ death, talking to eyewitnesses of the accident, and ascertained many new facts which deny or doubt the official version of his death.

The presentation of the debut novel of young writer Marina Mađarević came next, titled “Night of the Book – Impossible and Almighty.” This novel is a story of literary coming of age, following the interaction of fourteen-year-old Anton and Croatian literature classic Marin Držić who leads the boy through various periods of Croatian literary history.

The award for the best reportage in 2016 went to Vladimir Jurišić, a reporter for the Novosti magazine, for his series of reportage on Serb returnees from Banija and Kordun. A parallel can be drawn here with Fuis who also wrote of marginalised groups for a publication also named Novosti.

The Saturday programme began with the presentation of the picture book “Magical World of Krka National Park,” by Jagoda Sablić. Journalist Stjepan Pavić and editor-mentor Zlatko Hreljević later presented Global, the publication of journalism students from the Faculty of Political Sciences in Zagreb.


The movie “View from Within” was shown, with a scenario written by Marinko Petković, directed by Slaven Petrić. The movie speaks of existential insecurity of journalists and economic and political pressure faced by journalists today, and the erosion of the profession’s reputation.

Next came the presentation of the book “Adult Playground: Polet 1976-1990,” written by university professor Željko Krušelj, once a Polet author as well. Polet is a kind of phenomenon as it enabled certain controversial topics to be discussed for the first time in Croatian and Yugoslav public space, with many journalists who later took key positions in mainstream media.

The programme continued in the temporary location of the Virovitica town museum (normally located in the Pejačević castle, currently undergoing thorough restoration) with an exhibition of tourism photography “Wonderful World” by Voljen Grbac.

In the Culture Centre a group exhibition of Reuters Pulitzer-winning photojournalists was opened, focused on migrants. The exhibition was opened by former Reuters photojournalist and one of the best Croatian war reporters Nikola Šolić.

Then came the presentation of the “Mikeš Menu” project, run jointly by the industry and crafts high school in Virovitica and the town museum. Ethnologist Jasmina Jurković pointed out the goal of this project is to revive traditional gastronomy of the Virovitica area and make it part of the tourism offer. Visitors were served delicacies such as wine soup, trout with bacon, pork pâté, pastry with pork brain… Also on offer were wines from the Vineda winery near Vukosavljevica, as well as the excellent Pitko beer by the craft brewery from Pitomača. As part of the project, the book “Mikeš Menu” will be presented on October 18. The entertainment came from the Swing Time Quarter from Daruvar and Gustafi band.

The programme was continued on Sunday in the Višnjica clearing. The hosts prepared a traditional farmer’s dish Bošpor, fish specialties such as fish stew and carp on forks. The wine was from the 4B winery from nearby Lukavec, and members of the pupil cooperative from Slatina handed out parlines Frajla Antoš made form cookies, chocolate, butter, some rum and grape jam named Othello.

A roundtable was held on the topic of “Copyright on the internet and around it,” moderated by Sandra Pocrnić Mlakar, director and editor of the publishing company Beletra, together with Croatian Journalists’ Society President Saša Leković.

The lecture “Croatian Natural Treasures” came next, by biologist and publisher Goran Šafarek form Koprivnica, and the presentation of the Business&Lifestyle magazine, a special edition of Privredni Vjesnik and distributed in 15.000 copies. Renowned gastro journalist Božica Brkan, author of scenarios for “Small Secrets of Great Chefs,” presented her cookbooks and the internet gastro magazine Oblizeki. Journalist and poet Budimir Žižović , author of cookbooks “Istrian Homemade Winter Stores” and “Blue Wave Cookbook,” organiser of gastro manifestations such as Istrian Cuisine Festival,” prepared Mediterranean specialties and recited his own poetry for visitors.

Congratulations to festival director Goran Gazdek and coordinator Ivan Žada. Fra Ma Fu Festival has become a respectable manifestation bringing together journalists from several countries, a manifestation with harmonious combinations of educational, professional and entertainment content, and journalism with special emphasis on reportage, comics, photography, publishing, painting, gastronomy and music.


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