This year’s Pula Film Festival presents an excellent programme of documentary films, including Beach of Mines by Arsen Oremović.
The screening is a part of the second season of the series Disaster, and deals with the explosion of mines on Vergarola Beach in Pula in 1946. “The series deals with major accidents, and I try to find interesting leads, speakers or witnesses to the accident. I knew nothing about this case, even though it took the lives of 60 people and even though I have been coming to Pula for 30 years”, Oremović said at the press conference. He added that many people did not want to talk about the tragic event, and the story seemed to be stuck in between the older generations, who remember it, and the younger generations, who are not interested in it. “The explosion is a sort of a mystery, as the truth about the event never really saw the light of day”, he said, and added that the series was filmed based on court documents.
The film abounds in original photographs, and other than documentary, it also has live action parts. Director of photography Kristijan Burlović said that the real photographs have helped him, and that seeing how he is from Pula, he easily recognised the locations in the city, some of which look the same today. “We filmed the interviews at different locations to keep the dynamic interesting”, he said.
Toni Starešinić composed the music, and said it is an electric style with notes of acoustic. “The music is dramatic, as we needed to evoke the explosion of the mines, and there is also a saxophone, which gave an emotional note”, he said and added that he found it emotionally difficult to distance himself from the theme.
Anton Percan is one of the interviewees in the film, and said that the event is still a taboo topic. “It is still, to this day, a wound on the city, which burns, and sometimes also bleeds”, he said. Many interviewees withdrew from filming, which Percan thinks speaks to the mentality of the people of Pula. “That event robbed the city of a part of its soul. A piece of its soul was gone with the people who died, and a piece of its soul was lost with those who stayed in Pula and never talked about it again”, he added.
Vergarola is the third of six episodes in the second season of the series Disaster, and will be shown on Croatian Radiotelevision in autumn. As Oremović says, there is also potential for it being shown on the Italian market as well.