5 June 1931 |
Imotski, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
|Occupation||Film director, screenwriter, activist, politician|
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Antun Vrdoljak (born 4 June 1931) is a prominent Croatian film actor and director, and sports official. Between 1960s and early 1990s he was mainly a film artist. In the early 1990s he became involved in politics and became a prominent member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), which led to his appointment to a series of offices. Most notably, he was director general of the public broadcaster Croatian Radiotelevision from 1991–95, and the president of the Croatian Olympic Committee from 1991–2000.
Born in Imotski, Vrdoljak studied acting at the Zagreb Academy of Dramatic Art. His acting debut was in a 1957 film It Was Not in Vain (Nije bilo uzalud) by Nikola Tanhofer. In 1958, he appeared in Tanhofer's best known film H-8 to much critical acclaim. In late 1960s, Vrdoljak gradually switched to film directing. Following the events of the Croatian Spring (1968–71), Vrdoljak became associated with Croatian nationalism. Authorities nevertheless allowed him to continue with his career. This included lavish adaptations of Croatian literary classics such as Kiklop (1982) and Glembajevi (1988).
When first democratic elections were announced in Croatia, Vrdoljak was among 200 top intellectuals publicly endorsing the moderate Coalition of People's Accord. By the end of campaign, he switched his support for the more hardline Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and Franjo Tuđman, with whom he developed a close friendship. On 30 May 1990 the new democratically elected Croatian Parliament convened and Franjo Tuđman was elected President of Croatia. Vrdoljak became one of country's six vice-presidents. As such, he was entrusted with the supervision of 1990 European Championships in Athletics in Split, which was supposed to be the first big test for the new government, in which he displayed authoritarian tendencies, but also good organisational abilities, making a good impression on the international sports officials that would later help him become member of International Olympic Committee.
In December 1990, a new Croatian Constitution was adopted, ending the office of vice-president. A few months later Vrdoljak was appointed to the post of general manager of Croatian Radiotelevision (HRTV), where he promoted Tuđman and the HDZ, working hard to prevent any criticism of government on the programme, while Croatian opposition parties were ignored. Vrdoljak garnered a degree of notoriety for saying television "must become a cathedral of the Croatian spirit". On 16 September 1991, guards at the entrances of the HRT building told more than 300 employees that their passes were no longer valid. The move was attributed to "security reasons." Most of those on the security blacklists were fired because of their (Serb) nationality or that of their spouses, or because their father was an officer in the Yugoslav Army, or simply because they did not publicly support the HDZ.
Ivan Parać, Vrdoljak's successor, charged him with corruption. To the opposition, Vrdoljak had been the embodiment of HDZ domination of the media. Although Vrdoljak maintained his Parliament seat and other positions, he gradually retired from both politics and Tuđman's inner circle.
Return to filmmaking
He began his career as an actor and was praised for his role in now classic 1958 film H-8, directed by Nikola Tanhofer. He received praise for his two early films as a director and screenwriter, Kad čuješ zvona (When You Hear the Bells, 1969) and U gori raste zelen bor (A Green Pine Tree grows on the Mountain, 1971). Both films were based on the diaries of Croatian Partisan leader Ivan Šibl. When You Hear the Bells was entered into the 6th Moscow International Film Festival, where it won a Silver Prize.
Vrdoljak worked on television, with his 1972 mini-series Prosjaci i sinovi, based on the script (and later the novel) by Ivan Raos, later receiving a cult status. The series was shown only in 1984, due to Raos' status as a "Croatian nationalist". Vrdoljak also garnered favorable attention for his adaptations of Kiklop (from the novel by Ranko Marinković, 1982) and Glembajevi (from the play by Miroslav Krleža, 1988). Both movies were broadcast in their longer TV versions. After securing funding from new government, he directed Duga mračna noć (The Long Dark Night), a mini-series about World War II in Slavonia.
At the 1960 Pula Film Festival, the Yugoslav equivalent of Oscars, he won a Golden Arena for his role in Veljko Bulajić's nuclear holocaust film Rat (known in the USA as Atomic War Bride).
Vrdoljak was married twice. Divorced from his first wife, with whom he had one child, he remarried and has three other children. He is the father-in-law of Croatian actor Goran Višnjić, who is married to Ivana Vrdoljak.
- Love and Some Swear Words (1969)
- When You Hear the Bells (1969)
- The Pine Tree in the Mountain (1971)
- Deps (1974)
- Snowstorm (1977)
- The Return (1979)
- Cyclops (1982)
- Od petka do petka (1985)
- The Glembays (1988)
- Karneval, anđeo i prah (1990)
- Long Dark Night (2004)
- Vrdoljak's removal from HRTV; 2 February 1996.
- "Serbo-Croatian War:Lying For The Homeland", Prime Time Crime: Balkan Media in War and Peace by Kemal Kurspahić, p. 67; ISBN 1929223382
- Zafranović: Nisam udario Vrdoljaka (Croatian)
- "6th Moscow International Film Festival (1969)". MIFF. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
|President of the Croatian Olympic Committee