On day four of the festival, the film Stepinac - The Archbishop and His Conscience as presented at a press conference.
Director and writer Višnja Starešina has been working for over 15 years in documentary accounts of historical themes and persons. She has worked on the account of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac for a long time: “Ten years have passed since I first had the idea, and the film was filmed over the last three years”.
“The story follows the Zagreb Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac from birth. There was a lot of research and a lot of interviewees, and many things changed along the way”, she said and explained that some of the interviewees squeezed the others out. For example, they travelled to Israel to film the personal secretary of pope John Paul I, and came across a girl, Renata, who was saved from the Holocaust. It turned out that it was Stepinac himself who was the crucial link in saving her. “That is how the emotional aspect of the story suppressed the political aspect, and we filmed her in the end”, Starešina explained.
Professor Željko Tanjić, Rector of Catholic University of Croatia, said that he started working with Starešina on the books dealing with the topical political issues, and that they have really found each other in this project as well.
Krunoslav Novak, professor of communication studies at the Catholic University of Croatia, who worked as an adviser on this film, said it is important for students to watch this film. He emphasised: “He was a witness of a time, and the story of him follows the history of a society”. As he says, Stepinac lived at a challenging time and showed significant love toward God and the Croatian people.
Tanjić said that what makes Stepinac so suitable for film is actually several things: “His gestures, his face, his captivating personality, it’s all a part of him being so suitable for film, and I truly hope this film is going to become a feature film”. He added that Stepinac was the youngest archbishop at the time, that he was supposed to get married but joined the Catholic Church, and during World War I he went to the front and was taken captive.
After the lockdown period, when cinemas were closed, the film Stepinac - The Archbishop and His Conscience should finally be released in Croatian cinemas on 24 September.