Program of films by Zvonimir Berković

Zvonimir Berković – refined director of middle-class Croatia

"All of us, Croatian authors, have our worlds, some Little
Prince's planet, which suffices for an hour and a half long walk.
" – was
Berković's pungent commentary on the spiritual level of home cinema in a recent
interview in Nacional. On the same occasion he said that – if he were
given a second chance – he would not be a director. His acquaintances remember
well how he always belittled the importance of his films, opposite to political
columns, which promoted him, in the last decade, to the Croatian national

Indeed, only four films in two and a half decades is not much. Maybe he would
have made more if he had not ended up on the invisible 'black list' of cultural
party executors due to his work in Hrvatski tjednik in the 1970s. Then
again, perhaps not. He drove his editors crazy with endless rewriting and
redoing of each paragraph, extending the deadlines until the moment texts were
about to be printed. He was the same as film director. The screenplay of The
Trip to the Place of the Accident
was all set to be shot when Berković
turned a well-rounded story with classical characters into a modernist film
essay with an open dramatic structure. Premeditated Love Letters was
almost not shot because the director inconsolably complained for months that
only Catherine Deneuve was capable of portraying his heroine. The shooting of
Countess Dora
was rapidly turning into a nightmare because the director came
every morning with piles of papers with new ideas for shots and scenes that had
already been done.

In total opposition to directors who carry films in their heads even before the
first shot is made, Berković was certainly lucky to have made such nice works
despite his changes of ideas and production vagabondage. Imagine Croatian cinema
without his films?! We would not know that middle-class could be that firm and
natural as in Rondo! We would have never guessed that otherwise stiff
Croatian culture could bear such a refined and charming melodrama as was
Premeditated Love Letters
! Countess Dora revived historical
characters that we thought were forever turned to stone by a homemade TV series.
Maybe Berković's film opus is simply Little Prince's planet, but it is worth a
walk more than an hour and a half long. (Nenad Polimac)