Berge Istra is the last documentary feature to be presented at a press conference of this year’s Pula Film Festival.
Berge Istra is the name of the ship that was the largest in the world in its time. It was built at Pula shipyard Uljanik, where it was launched in 1972, only to mysteriously disappear in the Pacific three years after.
The documentary was written by Dražen Majić and Zoran Angeleski, both investigative journalists, who worked tirelessly on this film with the help from their outstanding colleagues from Croatian Radiotelevision. “It is a large and strong broadcaster, with a great archives and fantastic people who worked with us on the film”, said Majić. He talked to Angeleski for the first time about the topic of this film 15 years ago. “I grew up in Pula, and lived close to the shipyard, where my stepfather worked, and I was always fascinated by the multitude of ships that were being built there. This fascination is deeply rooted in me”, he said.
Angeleski, too, grew up in Pula, in the Veruda neighbourhood, and also had close ties with Uljanik, where his brother also used to work. “In the 80s, even I worked at Uljanik for a short while, through the then youth association. It was fascinating to be on the inside and see what goes on and what the life of Uljanik was like”, he said.
As the ship is specific, primarily due to its size, but also due to the mystery of its sinking that has never been solved, the story about Berge Istra has been fascinating from the very start, and Majić says that they needed to conduct thorough research before starting with the filming.
During filming, divided into four parts, there were a lot of turns and changes, new archival material that was found by chance and later used, as well as mutual fights.
Director of cinematography Goran Legović said the filming took place in Pula, Zagreb, Norway, and Tenerife. There were a lot of changes while filming the interviewees, and they needed to find a balance between what was being said and the idea the authors had when they started work, Legović said and emphasised that it all came together in the editing.
Majić said he is most proud of the fact that the small, three-member team, was able to complete a film like this one. “This is where we see the strength of our team. We were doing the work of ten people”.
It is no surprised that there is a lot of interest for this film from the audience in Pula, because the city and Uljanik share a bond, and because the disappearance of the giant ship remains a mystery. There have been numerous assumptions and conspiracy theories about the disappearance. “We needed to shed light on this. Even though a myth about something sounds great, it is still a lie. And this film provides an answer of sorts as to why the ship sank”, Angeleski said.
The score was created by the group The Chweger from Pula, and it is a very important part of the film. “I am sorry that this jewel of Croatian rock scene has not been recognised. They make outstanding music. It gave the film another level and a note of melancholy”, Majić said.
The film has already been screened in Norway, whit all three screenings selling out.
“Berge Istra will be shown in two parts on Croatian Radiotelevision on the anniversary of its launched. It will most probably be shown on Norwegian and Spanish national TV at the same time, which is very important to us” Majić concluded.
Angeleski expressed his hope that the film will inspire further research about the topic.