FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR: CAST AND CREW BIOGRAPHIES
BRENDA BRKUSIC
Producer, Writer, Director, Editor
Brenda Brkusic is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and the Executive Producer of Program Development and National Productions for PBS SoCal in Southern California. She joined PBS SoCal (then KOCE) in 2006 as a producer for their Emmy Award-winning nightly news program before being asked to spearhead and manage PBS SoCal's new digital OC Channel (PBS OC). Her dedication to building the channel's image and programming resulted in the creation of thousands of new programs. The channel has been called "The Next Generation of PBS" by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and won the 2010 My Source Education Innovation Award from CPB. In her current role as Executive Producer, Brenda is developing many programs for national distribution on public television.
Brenda Brkusic's films that have been featured on public television including the multi-award winning film Freedom from Despair, starring Michael York and John Savage. At age 22 she wrote, produced, directed and edited the film, shooting in the US and Croatia. By creatively blending interviews, narrative recreations, and stock footage to illuminate the human experience, hidden political agendas, and global responsibility, Brenda Brkusic has gained a reputation as an important new voice in the documentary field. Her film has won a dozen awards at film festivals, from Hollywood to New York to Croatia including a coveted CINE Golden Eagle Award (previously won by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Ken Burns). Brenda was invited by the International Documentary Associatian to be considered for a prestigious Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award and Freedom from Despair was also nominated for a David L. Wolper Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award in the 2005 IDA Awards Gala. Brenda's film has received critical acclaim from the international press, and in June of 2005, her hard work on Freedom from Despair was recognized by US Congress and she was honored on the Congressional Record of the US House of Representatives. In 2007 she was invited to Brussels, Belgium to present her film to the European Union during the International Leaders Summit on Economic Freedom at the European Parliament. Amnesty International, the largest human rights organization in the world, officially endorses her film for its strong human rights advocacy. Another human rights organization, The Anti-Defamation League, named the film a Finalist in their competition.

Brenda was the executive producer for Bloody Thursday, an Emmy Award-winning film about the Pacific waterfront strike of 1934 that aired on PBS stations around the country. Brenda is currently a co-producer for Mia: A Dancer's Odyssey, a film about the life of famous ballerina Mia Slavenska, starring actress Blythe Danner. Brenda earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film and Television Production at Chapman University. She was previously featured as a "Top Business Executive under 40 Years Old" and a "Woman to Watch" in OC Metro Business Magazine. She is also the owner of Istina Productions, a documentary film production company in Southern California and she is a member of the Producers Guild of America.  
JOHN SAVAGE
Narrator
John Savage has starred in some of the great Academy Award Winning films of the seventies such as The Deer Hunter, and Hair, and has always been attracted to humanitarian causes. While in Africa, he served as the production manager for Spike Lee’s Malcolm X. Some of his recent films include Oliver Stone’s Salvador, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, Coppola’s Godfather 3, and The Thin Red Line. His impressive TV credits include his regular role in the James Cameron FOX series Dark Angel. John has organized the children’s theatre group, in which he performs without fees in public housing. Presently, John travels across the country as a spokesman for The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.
MICHAEL YORK
Voice Over
Michael York has enjoyed a successful international career for nearly 40 years, creating an impressive body of work on stage, screen and in the recording studio. His more than 100 film and TV credits include memorable roles in Romeo and Juliet, Cabaret, The Three Musketeers, Logan's Run and all three Austin Powers movies. He has recorded over 60 audio books, including his autobiography, Accidentally on Purpose. Awarded Britain's OBE, France's Arts et Lettres, he also has a Star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame.
BEATA POZNIAK
Voice Over
Best known for her role as Marina Oswald in Oliver Stone's JFK, acclaimed Polish actress, activist and artist Beata Pozniak is as politically-minded offscreen. She spearheaded passage of the first bill to recognize International Women's Day in the United States and produces an annual star-studded Women's Day Awards Show recognizing the achievements of unique women. Pozniak's paintings and sculptures explore the roles of women in society, and have attracted the attention of Los Angeles galleries and a celebrity clientele. Pozniak has been seen on Melrose Place, Mad About You, George Lucas’ The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, JAG, Babylon 5 and Pensacola: Wings of Gold.
PETAR CVIRN
Lead Actor
Born in Zagreb, Croatia, on september 1, 1986, Petar Cvirn first started acting at the age of 10 in a local partner theatre of the Croatian National Theatre. Since elementary school Petar has been chosen to play lead roles 14 different works such as Cinderella, and as the Greek God Apolo in The Fury of the Gods. Freedom from Despair was his feature film debut.
TERENCE PRATT
Director of Photography
Since his arrival in the motion picture industry, Terence Pratt has worked on numerous award winning independent features as well as shot over 200 episodes of television including Unsolved Mysteries, Arrest and Trial and the Lifetime reality series What Should You Do? He has traveled the world for Discovery Channel to document such wonders as the Sphinx in Egypt, the Yonaguni underwater pyramid structure in the East China Sea, and the Garaho Indians of Northern Columbia. His student documentary, Wake Island, won Best Documentary at the Melbourne International Film Festival and he also won Best Cinematography at the New York Independent Film Festival for the film Devil’s Playground.
IRINA DAMIC
Associate Producer in Croatia
Irina Damic is the first and only casting director in Croatia and the head of Kvadar, a production company in Croatia run by women. She has recently worked with Branko Lustig, Michael Winterbottom, and with the V-Day organization for their current program in Croatia. Irina’s talents can be seen in the films Welcome to Sarajevo, Peacemaker, and Behind Enemy Lines.
NENAD BACH
Music
Some of Nenad Bach’s work includes performing on MTV, scoring the Robert Stone documentary feature film The Satellite Sky, which won "Louis Award" for 1990, the Robert Katz film King of Cool, the Danny Schechter film Beyond Life With Timothy Leary. He also composed the world renowned 1000 Years of Peace, a fundraising compilation with Michael York, Martin Sheen and John Malkovich for orphaned children during the war in Croatia.
ADDITIONAL INTERVIEWEES
DENNIS KUCINICH—US Congressman who visited Croatia during the 1990’s war.

GEORGE RADANOVICH—US Congressman.

C. MICHAEL MCADAMS—Historian and author of the book, Croatia: Myth and Reality

DR. JERRY BLASKOVICH—Author of the book, Anatomy of Deceit and investigator of war crimes in the 1990’s war.

MARKO DIZDAR—Amnesty International Prisoner of Conscience at Lepoglava Prison from 1974-1985 and President of Former Political Prisoners Under Communism.

FATHER PETAR BEZINA—75 years in Priesthood and witness to murders of Croatian Catholic clergy members under Communism.

SURVIVORS OF COMMUNISM—including Kruno Brkusic, his family and friends.

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