Censorship and Appointment Cause Turmoil in Film and Theatre Communities

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A recent attempt to ban a Croatian film from the national public broadcaster and an appointment in the national theatre have brought numerous reactions.

Reactions keep coming to an attempt by war veterans’ associations to ban the film “The Ministry of Love” (Ministarstvo Ljubavi) from Croatian Radio Television (HRT), as well as to recent statements given by former Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegović, who once again called the Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC), which partly financed the film, a clientelist association financed by the citizens who have the right to know which movies are being funded, reports N1 on January 15, 2018.

Also, many of the actors and actresses employed by the Croatian National Theatre (HNK) in Zagreb published an open letter against Hasanbegović’s recent appointment as a representative of the city authorities in the HNK’s Council. Hasanbegović said they were engaged in para-political activities. “This is para-activism. The pamphlet shows that my claims about the HNK are correct. The letter has the characteristics of a pamphlet, without any negative connotations,” said the former Culture Minister, a major star in the rightwing circles.

The twenty actors signed the letter saying that Hasanbegović’s appointment would be followed by ideological conflicts and the devastation of the HNK. Hasanbegović said he would not try to influence the theatre repertoire, but his comments have not prevented further criticism.

“HNK and HAVC councils should not include politicians, let alone extremists and individuals who have a reputation of the pest,” said Hrvoje Hribar, former HAVC director who resigned after a conflict with the rightwing groups regarding some of the other films the institution financed.

The fact that politics is trying to influence the creative sector has been proven by recent events concerning the HRT programme which, under pressure from the veterans’ associations, first removed the film “The Ministry of Love” from the schedule, then returned it, and then moved it to a late-night timeslot. The film was financed by HAVC.

“He really can be pleased with the effects of his destructive campaign. We have a situation of the spiraling disintegration of HRT at the moment,” said Hribar, speaking about Hasanbegović.

The film community agrees that, after Hribar left the HAVC, the atmosphere has become negative, and that impression has been reinforced by the lack of competencies of the new member of the HNK Council. “I see a measure of hubris in the fact that he is getting involved in things which he does not know well enough. He dares to talk about everything – about films, about the theater. I do not know any person who could make decisions on everything as he wants to do,” said film director Zrinko Ogresta.

HRT’s decision to move the film to a later timeslot apparently came under pressure from the current Veterans’ Affairs Minister Tomo Medved, who reportedly insisted that the film should not be broadcast at all. “It does not matter what the film is about and who is the minister who protested. Such action legitimizes a certain kind of political behavior and intimidates anyone who thinks differently,” said former Foreign Minister Vesna Pusić.

The question is whether politicians will try to impose a kind of censorship. “There will certainly be no censorship in Croatia because there is already self-censorship. There are fear, withdrawal, and insincerity in the media field,” said Hribar.

The situation in the HAVC, but also in the broader cultural community, will undoubtedly be influenced by the adoption of the new Law on Audiovisual Activities which is currently in the public consultation period.

Translated from N1.


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