FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR: CAST
AND CREW BIOGRAPHIES
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
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
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 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 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.
||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.
||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.
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.
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.
|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
|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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