Veljko BULAJIC was born on 23 March, 1928 in Vilusi, Montenegro (ex-Yugoslavia).
His second film WAR (1960) based on the script of Cezare Zavattini caused fierce comments both at home and abroad. The authors scrutinized every form of militarism, and especially the possible nuclear war. George Sadul once said: “It is not a masterpiece, but it is unforgettable”.
BOOM TOWN (1961), Bulajic’s third film, shows the live in a big construction site in an open and critical manner. This film was practically the first film made in ex-Yugoslavia that critically addressed the contemporary social events. The film was screened at the festival in Venice where it received high grades from the critics. One might say that BOOM TOWN marks the beginning of the critic films in the East European countries. The film was banned for screening in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well; the place the action is set.
Bulajic’s upward movement in the world film was marked by his film KOZARA (1962), the Golden Medal award winner at the International Festival in Moscow. KOZARA was equally successful in the East and in the West. Here, the author shows a new dimension of the war film. The mark of the French director Francois Truffaut, film author with a completely different poetics, brought forth the artistic values of the film: “KOZARA crushed the prejudice that the war film cannot bring anything new”.
While KOZARA was achieving success on every continent, Bulajic completed the documentary feature film SKOPJE 63 (1964, shot after the catastrophic earthquake in the capital of the Republic of Macedonia –Skopje in 1963). The film received a number of important awards and recognitions throughout the world: Grand-Prix “Golden Lion Saint Marco” in Venice, Grand-Prix “Golden Nymph” in Monte Carlo, the UNESCO Award “KALINGA”, these are but a few of the important awards that followed the world campaign of this documentary film directed by Bulajic. The Swedish Film Institute included SKOPJE 63 among the 15 best films made between 1920 and 1964.
In 1966, Bulajic made the film LOOKING INTO THE EYES OF THE SUN, a strange and without a doubt one of the most original war films. The action was reduced to critical limits: three people in winter scenery, their destinies dramatically reduced to the elementary needs of human existence. With his nearly naturalistic presentation the film reminds us of Jack London’s White Fang.
Unlike LOOKING INTO THE EYES OF THE SUN the film THE BATTLE OF NERETVA (1969) is spectacular in its form, but epic in its topic and storyline. The film is considered an extraordinary screening on a World War II topic, counterpart to THE LONGEST JOURNEY and THE NAKED AND THE DEAD. THE BATTLE OF NERETVA has been screened through the world. In some countries it had the largest audience that year. The film was nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar.
The film DONOR (1969) was Bulajic’s step forward, into a new genre for him. Inspired by the life and the sufferings of the young collector Erik Slomovic in the course of World War II. The success of the film DONOR with the Yugoslav audience at that time and the audience in France, where most of the events took place, and the success with the critics, confirm the skill of the author to realize a psychological action film.
THE DAY THAT SHOOK THE WORLD (1975). Bulajic treated this topic, already present in the European film, in a new manner. He was primarily interested in the destinies and the personalities of the characters in this drama that caused the start of World War I. Bulajic managed to achieve the general through the individual, showing both faces of Europe at that time: the colonized Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
It was a surprise when Bulajic started working on another historical topic after THE DAY THAT SHOOK THE WORLD, this time in the manner of the science fiction.
With the film HIGH VOLTAGE (1981) Bulajic once again returns to the harsh reality, in 1948, when Tito and Yugoslavia said NO to Stalin. This was the first film on that conflict. The action of the film was set in the Zagreb factory Rade Koncar, in the time of the strong oppositions with Stalin. What Bulajic wanted to say, he expressed it stylistically: the time of the social-realism was presented ironically precisely through the manner of the social-realism. Thus, he ridiculed the dogma of that time.
HEROES (1983) shows the path of a convoy of village carts that under dramatic circumstances transport food from the fertile planes to the free territory in the mountains. It is a wide, powerful fresco, introducing a number of striking characters and war scenes. The film had a record viewing in ex-Yugoslavia.
THE PROMISSE LAND (1986) follows the topic TRAIN WITHOUT A TIMETABLE and criticizes the forces collectivization of the village in a radical, open manner, through interesting artistic court proceedings before the Court of the People.
LIBERTAS (2006) is Bulajic’s last film. After a longer period of time another ambitious project that confirmed his every-burning vitality as an author. In the dramatic story of the great Croatian renaissance writer, actor, director, musician Marin Drzic, Bulajic demystifies an era and bravely enters the field of politics. The film is rich with extraordinary actor achievements.
AWARDS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
Veljko Bulajic was a member of the international jury in Cannes twice; he was also a member of the international juries in Venice, Moscow and New Delhi.
He is the three time winner of the AVNOJ Award, the Montenegrin Award “July 13”, the City of Zagreb Award, the City of Skopje Award, Florence’s Award “Nastro d’Argento” as well as the “Sacred Ground of Stalingrad” Award.