Dir: Vinko Bresan. Croatia. 1999. 97 mins.
Prod cos: Interfilm, HRT. Int'l sales: Interfilm (+385 1 4667 290). Prods: Ljubo Sikic, Ivan Maloca. Prod representative: Ernest Kalamar. Scr: Ivo and Vinko Bresan. DoP: Zivko Zalar. Main cast: Drazen Kuhn, Lidija Bregonja, Ivo Gregurevic, Ilija Ivezic.
Vinko Bresan's witty insights into post-Civil War Croatia have a broad and devoted audience at home. Marshal, which was shown in the Forum section of this year's Berlin Film Festival and won the Wolfgang Staudte Award, sold more than 200,000 tickets in Croatian theatres.
The inhabitants of a small island on the Adriatic lock their doors at night because the ghost of the late Marshal Tito has been noticed roaming around their village. The local inn-keeper - who has "privatised" half of the island for peanuts - sees Tito's ghost as a chance to attract tourists to his empty and dilapidated hotel, despite being an ardent anti-Communist. His ad in the papers says that the "spirit of Tito" is still alive on the island. The veteran partisan fighters and old communists start flocking, and the inn-keeper organises May Day marches, a vocal group sings partisan songs and the whole iconography of ex-communism is displayed. It eventually turns out that the "ghost" is a lunatic who likes to wear Tito's uniforms stolen from the local museum.
Ivo Bresan, Vinko's father and one of the foremost Croatian writers, has come up with an interesting and witty script. The direction is secure and smooth and the actors do a good job with the nicely outlined characters. The satirical sting is pungent, but Bresan is full of understanding. The reluctant attempts at a love story are, however, unnecessary.
The film will probably find theatrical distributors in the former Yugoslavia and in the countries familiar with the personality cults of the past, and it deserves wide festival exposure and broadcast on art and culture TV channels in the West.