Lustig, right, at the LAMOTH 2nd Annual Dinner in 2009
June 10, 1932 |
|Spouse(s)||Mirjana Lustig (c. 1970–present)|
Lustig was born in Osijek, Croatia, to a Croatian Jewish family. His father, Mirko, was head-waiter at an Osijek Café Central, and his mother, Vilma, was a housewife. Lustig's grandparents, unlike his parents, were religious and he regularly attended town Synagogue with them. During World War II, as a child he was imprisoned for two years in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Most members of his family perished in the death camps throughout Europe, including his grandmother who was killed in the gas chamber, while his father was killed in Čakovec by Hungarians on March 15, 1945. Lustig's mother survived the Holocaust and was reunited with him after the war. On the day of the liberation Lustig weighed only 66 pounds. Lustig credited his survival in Auschwitz to a German officer that, coincidentally, was from the same Osijek suburb and knew Lustig's father. He overheard Lustig crying in Croatian and asked him who his father was.
Lustig began his film career in 1955 as an assistant director at Jadran Film, a state-owned Zagreb-based film production company. In 1956 he worked as a unit production manager on Branko Bauer's World War II drama Ne okreći se sine, winner of three Golden Arena awards at the 1956 Pula Film Festival. In the 1980s Lustig worked on the miniseries The Winds of War (1983) and its sequel War and Remembrance (1988). He moved to the United States in 1988.
Lustig received his first Oscar in 1993 for the production of Schindler's List, a film based on the novel of Thomas Keneally (which is, in turn, based on the true-life story of a German manufacturer who saved hundreds of Jews during World War II). He received his second Oscar for the epic movie Gladiator about a struggle for power in Imperial Rome, in 2001. Other major Hollywood films that Lustig has worked on as a producer or executive producer include The Peacemaker (1997), Hannibal (2001), and Black Hawk Down (2001). In 2008, Lustig helped establish an independent production company Six Point Films to produce "meaningful, thought-provoking independent films".
Lustig received the Order of Duke Trpimir by President Franjo Tuđman for his work on the film. In 2008 he became the first filmmaker ever and second in the field of arts (only one along with Vladimir Nazor) to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Zagreb.
The Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust honored Branko Lustig together with Andreas Maislinger at his 2nd Annual Dinner on November 8, 2009 at the Beverly Hills Hotel for his long-time commitment to Holocaust education and commemoration.
Lustig celebrated his bar mitzvah on May 2, 2011 at Auschwitz, in front of barrack No. 24 a. He missed his rite of passage as a 13-year-old because at the time he was a prisoner in the very same barrack, having been deported from his Croatian hometown Osijek to the death camp when he was 10. In spite of that he considers himself an atheist, Lustig always stayed deeply connected with Jewish tradition and culture. The bar mitzvah ceremony was held during a March of the Living educational tour of Poland and Israel for high school students.
Lustig resides between Los Angeles and Zagreb, and calls both of the cities his home, although in the Jutarnji list interview from September, 2012 he stated: But more and more, slowly, I am returning to Zagreb. I'm coming back.
- "Hollywoodska večer za Branka Lustiga". Vjesnik (in Croatian). April 20, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- Penić, Goran (July 10, 2008). "Oskarovac predavač na Akademiji". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- "Moj put od logora do Hollywooda". Gloria (in Croatian). May 25, 2009. Retrieved 2010-12-21.
- "S Oscarovcem Lustigom na bar micvi u Auschwitzu: Mazel tov, Branko!". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). 2011-05-08. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
- "U Hollywoodu održana večer posvećena Branku Lustigu". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). April 19, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
- "Branko Lustig: Plakao sam Hrvatski (Crying in Croatian)", Nova TV Interview, October, 2010
- Short biography
- "Festival Židovskog filma Zagreb". www.jff-zagreb.hr (in Croatian). Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- "Branko Lustig primio priznanje počasnog građanina grada Osijeka". Osijek.hr (in Croatian). September 16, 2010. Retrieved 2011-05-16.
- Torok, Ryan. "‘Schindler’s List’ producer named Mensch." Jewish Journal. 6 February 2013. 6 February 2013.
- "Lustig: 'Bio sam nedavno u Auschwitzu i bilo me je sram! Vijorile su se sve zastave svijeta. Osim moje Hrvatske'". Jutarnji list (in Croatian). September 22, 2012. Retrieved 2012-09-22.
- Branko Lustig at the Internet Movie Database
- Branko: Return to Auschwitz, New York Times Op-Doc, April 15, 2013