How the War Started on My Island

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How the War Started on My Island
Kako je poceo rat na mom otoku.jpg
Directed byVinko Brešan
Produced byAnte Škorput
Written byIvo Brešan
Vinko Brešan
StarringVlatko Dulić
Ljubomir Kerekeš
Ivan Brkić
Predrag Vušović
Ivica Vidović
Božidar Orešković
Matija Prskalo
Music byMate Matišić
CinematographyŽivko Zalar
Edited bySandra Botica
Release date
17 December 1996 (1996-12-17)
Running time
97 minutes

How the War Started on My Island (Croatian: Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku) is a 1996 Croatian black comedy film directed by Vinko Brešan and starring Vlatko Dulić, Ljubomir Kerekeš, Ivan Brkić, Predrag Vušović, Ivica Vidović, Božidar Orešković and Matija Prskalo. The film was shot on location in Primošten and Šibenik.[1]


The film is set in Croatia in mid-1991, after the Croatian Parliament had proclaimed the country's independence, seceding it from Yugoslavia. However, army garrisons around the country are still held by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), which does not acknowledge the parliament's decision. The JNA garrisons are largely manned by conscripts hailing from all over Yugoslavia who are serving their compulsory military service, and headed by senior officers who ignore Croatian demands that the JNA should leave Croatian territory and release Croats under their command. In this backdrop, the film begins with the arrival of art historian Blaž Gajski (played by Vlatko Dulić) to a small unnamed Croatian island with the intention of rescuing his son Zoran (Leon Lučev) who is serving at the local JNA barracks.

Gajski finds the situation on the island tense – the police have surrounded the barracks, locals are picketing the garrison, and the local commanders go in to negotiate a peaceful surrender of the compound with barracks commander major Aleksa (Ljubomir Kerekeš). However, Aleksa brushes them off, has the barracks rigged with explosives and threatens to blow everything up in case of any attempts to take the garrison by force. In response, islanders stage a non-stop festival in front of the compound, with rock bands and marching bands playing music, and with islanders reciting poems and giving speeches (including Aleksa's own wife) in the hope of convincing Aleksa to back down.

Meanwhile, the locals' commander has the garrison's power and phone lines cut. The locals then intercept an army radio transmission and, posing as army command, tell Aleksa not to do anything until a "colonel Kostadinović" arrives to give him detailed instructions, in order to buy more time to wear him down. After failing to get in the garrison or contact the commander, Gajski tries to get help from the locals in getting his son released, but everyone on the island seems completely engrossed by their own role in the events. In the resulting stalemate, he manages to get in the barracks posing as a JNA officer, retrieves his son and defuses the situation.


In spite of being filmed as a television production (the film was shot on 16 mm film, and later transferred to 35 mm film before being released to theaters),[2] the film's blend of comedy and drama was well received by Croatian audiences. During its cinema run the film was seen by around 346,000 people in the country, which made it the most popular Croatian title of the 1990s, as well as one of the most popular Croatian films of all times.[2]

The film won Grand Prize at the 1997 Cottbus Film Festival of Young East European Cinema and three Golden Arena Awards at the 1996 Pula Film Festival (Best Director, Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Costume).

In 1999, a poll of Croatian film fans found it to be one of the best Croatian films ever made.[3]


  1. ^ "Filming locations for Kako je poceo rat na mom otoku". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku". Baza HR kinematografije (in Croatian). Croatian Film Association. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  3. ^ ""Tko pjeva, zlo ne misli" najbolji hrvatski film svih vremena!". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 28 November 1999. Retrieved 8 February 2013.

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