FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR: PRESS AND REVIEWS
PRESS

A Letter From the Adriatic Institute for Public Policy

FFD Wins Prestigious Telly Award

Croatian Herald interview with Brenda on FFD and Future Projects on the Horizon

5 Star Review in Australian Paper, "The Croatian Herald"

Brenda on the Cover of the PV News Again

Brenda Named "Top Business Executive Under 40 Years Old" by OC Metro Business Magazine

Letter from Croatian Consul General

Freedom From Despair to Screen at Economic Summit at the European Parliament

Freedom From Despair Debut on PBS (KOCE-TV)

Croatian Herald Review of Freedom from Despair's tour in Australia

A Feature Story about FFD on the Cover of the Orange County Register Newspaper

OC Weekly Newspaper Calls FFD an "Eye-Opening Documentary"

Vecernji List Newspaper Review of FFD at the CINE Golden Eagle Awards Ceremony (In English and Croatian)

Croatian Chronicle Interview with Brenda Brkusic at the CINE Golden Eagle Awards Ceremony

Arena Magazine 4 Page Spread about Freedom from Despair with Photos and English Translation

Brenda Brkusic to Be Interviewed on Emmy Award Winning PBS News Program 01/12/06

Associated Press Covers Congressman Kucinich's Concern for Filmmaker Brenda Brkusic's Rights

US Congress Expresses Concern With Croatian Television’s Obstruction of Freedom from Despair Distribution in relation to "Recommending of Croatia Into NATO"

Congressman Kucinich's Floor Statement about Croatian Television's Obstruction of Freedom from Despair Distribution in relation to "Recommending of Croatia Into NATO"

FFD Nominated for an International Documentary Association Award  

Brenda Brkusic on the cover of PV Peninsula News, "Her Father’s Story”

Chicago Suburban Life Newspaper, "LT Grad Wins Critical Acclaim for Movie on Father’s Flight from Oppression"

Chicago Doings Newspaper, "FFD Launches Directing Career for Brkusic"

View 2005 Australian Tour Flyer (in Croatian)

Brenda Brkusic and FFD honored on the Congressional Record at the US House of Representatives

Brenda Brkusic wins prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award previously won by Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ken Burns

Matica Magazine covers FFD - "Many Croatian Immigrants Found Themselves in My Film"
(English Version)

Matica Magazine covers FFD - "Many Croatian Immigrants Found Themselves in My Film"
(Croatian Version)

Brenda Brkusic on the Cover of the Croatian American Times as "Person of the Week"
(Croatian and English Version)

Freedom from Despair "a must-see" Says LA Film Critic

Freedom from Despair Draws Large Crowds in Southern Ontario

Freedom from Despair Causes Fokus Journalist to Write on Histroical Events Familiar to Him
(Croatian version)

Freedom from Despair Causes Fokus Journalist to Write on Histroical Events Familiar to Him
(English version)

PRESS RELEASE - Celebrity Panel Disscussion on Freedom from Despair Garners Praise from Crongressman Kucinich and Amnesty International

Download the Interview with Brenda Brkusic and John Savage on 88.9 FM (KXLU), “Center Stage” Radio Program, May 2005

The Sherman Oaks Sun Newspaper Calls Freedom from Despair "a compelling work"

Women’s Day USA and University of Southern California Hosted a Screening of Freedom from Despair in Academy Artist Series

CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH to attend FREEDOM FROM DESPAIR Artivist Screening 4/23/05!

Purchase advance tickets for FFD and the Human Rights Forum at Artivist Film Festival

PRESS RELEASE - Screening Alert - FFD at the Artivist Film Festival 4/23/05

PRESS RELEASE - FFD Wins the Golden Reel Award in the Tiburon Int'l Film Festival

Excellent Review of Freedom from Despair in the Bay Area Casting News

PRESS RELEASE on Film Threat - FFD Wins the Cinequest Film Festival Viewer's Voice Award

PRESS RELEASE - Cinequest Film Festival Selects Winners

FFD Gets a Mention on IndieWire

Libertas Foundation and Brenda Brkusic honor famous actors York, Savage, Pozniak in LA

PRESS RELEASE - Freedom from Despair Wins Best Documentary Award in New York Film Festival

Listen to the Voice of Croatia Radio Interview with Brenda Brkusic on Croatia Today, December 2004

PRESS RELEASE - Freedom From Despair Wins Best Documentary Award in Hollywood Film Festival

Freedom From Despair is Highlighted in the Studio City Sun Newspaper

Freedom From Despair a Brilliant Film, says Tolucan Times

Brenda Brkusic, Nenad Bach and John Savage on RedCarpetPictures.com from the 2004 Adopt a Minefield Gala

John Savage holding the "Freedom From Despair" press packet on RedCarpetPictures.com from the 2004 Adopt a Minefield Gala

All the photos of the red carpet from the 2004 Adopt a Minefield Gala

Actor John Savage and Brenda Brkusic on CelebrityPhoto.com from the ARPA Film Festival

All the photos on CelebrityPhoto.com from the ARPA Film Festival

Actor John Savage and Brenda Brkusic on GettyImages.com from the ARPA Film Festival

PRESS RELEASE: LA showings of "Freedom from Despair" a Success

Read a Scholarly Review of the film written by Hrvatsko Slovo Newspaper (English version)

Read a rave review of the film written by KODAK

Read the Transcript from PBS (KOCE) “Real Orange” Television Program interview with Brenda Brkusic, June 2004

Read the Arena Magazine Article about Brenda Brkusic and Freedom from Despair, May 2004

PRESS RELEASE - Freedom from Despair World Premiere in the Amnesty International Film Festival

Download the Interview with Brenda Brkusic on 88.9 FM (KXLU), “Center Stage” Radio Program, May 2004

Freedom From Despair on filmski.net for the Pula Film Festival

VIEWER QUOTES
"In solidarity with Amnesty members, artists continue to pressure governments to end the practice of torture, false imprisonment, impunity for war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and they advocate tirelessly for the release of prisoners of conscience. Giving a voice to the disappeared, saving lives, raising awareness about atrocities and inhuman conditions, and mobilizing people to act are not easy tasks. Brenda Brkusic's documentary is an example of sublime filmmaking that poignantly tells the story of one brave man and translates his experience into powerful and compelling statements about the human spirit, political agendas, and global responsibility. You have been witnesses tonight to the courage of Kruno Brkusic and Marko Dizdar. Two men who despite having been harassed, imprisoned and tortured, kept their humanity and adopted the principals of non-violent advocacy. The participation of such talented and well respected actors as Michael York, John Savage and Beata Pozniak will help the film reach a more mainstream audience. When Freedom from Despair premiered at Amnesty International's Human Rights Film Festival last year, the moving reactions of the audience in the packed screening room was a testament to the power of this documentary. We believe those who see it will understand the tragedy that engulfed Croatia and the hope that exists today. Amnesty International commends Brenda for this filmic achievement and we hope that she continues to bring socially conscious films to the attention of audiences around the world."
-Bonnie Abaunza, President of Artists for Amnesty International
“This documentary is exceptionally well-crafted, giving a detailed account of both the situation in Croatia and the political mood in the U.S. at the time. The stories of torture and concentration camps rival those of the Holocaust in their atrocity, if not in their numbers. Almost as shocking as the carnage is the seeming indifference of the rest of the world. I strongly recommend this film to anyone who is ignorant of the full extent of the "ethnic cleansing" in Croatia, and I have a feeling that includes the majority of U.S. citizens."
-Nina Hauptman, Bay Area Casting News
“It is a must-see film for those who want to look into the window of truth. It is very likely that this fine film will end up in the archives of great documentaries."
-Josip Bogovic, The Croatian Chronicle
“Brenda and Beata. This is your formal “Thank you.” Even if it hadn’t been Women’s Day, you brought a load of passion and talent to last night’s running of “Freedom from Despair” at USC. You heard the interest of the students, who had never been shown a documentary before (in the Academy Series class). Interest not only in the film itself, but in the two of you as examples of what can be done, even in this town, by starting from scratch. It was an education for me, as well, because it’s been too long since I had my own freedom from despair. Keep it up! Warmly,”
-Mel Shavelson, filmmaker and former President of the Writer’s Guild of America West
“Brenda. On behalf of the USC Master of Professional Writing Program, I want to thank you for taking the time to visit the Academy Artist Series on Tuesday. I enjoyed our talk over dinner with you and your mother, Diana, and our students truly enjoyed your advice and insight, particularly in regard to "Freedom from Despair". Thank you again for your generosity. It was great to have a reunion after our meeting in Dubrovnik. I look forward to seeing you again soon. Best wishes.”
-James Ragan, Ph.D., Director, Professional Writing Program
“Brenda Brkusic has a very inspired directorial approach, and she achieved dramatic tension and rhythm, which even after one and one half hours time does not leave the viewer unmoved. Not only did she master her film profession, it is also obvious that she is a very gifted young film director, as she as a 23-year old made a mature and serious film for which even older colleagues in this domain could be envious.”
-Hrvatsko Slovo Newspaper
“It cannot be denied that the young director, screenwriter and producer took pains to make a quality presentation.”
-Vecernji List Newspaper
“Brenda Brkusic, American film producer of Croatian descent, is one of these authors we have been waiting for: young, gifted and brave. Brenda presented this tale without exaggeration, honestly and sincerely, with the author's courage which is imposing, but which is also without any ideology and propaganda. She gave through her personal dimension a very vivid presentation of a totalitarian time, the darkest sides of a system which mercilessly trampled human rights.”
-Hrvatsko Slovo Newspaper
“A brilliant film”
-The Tolucan Times
“A moving account”
-The Studio City Sun
“Brenda Brkusic is a young American filmmaker of Croatian decent who actually delved deep into the roots of the war in Croatia, unlike most foreign based directors who were lost in a myriad of ideological propaganda from all sides and left most things open ended and unanswered.”
-Voice of Croatia Radio Program
"First of all, I want to thank Brenda for what is really an achievement in following your father’s story and sharing it with the world. It’s an important story. As I was watching this I was reminded of some words from a poem by Wordsworth where he talks about feelings that almost were too deep for tears. That’s why this work by Brenda is so important because it really reflects a broader human experience of war itself and the genesis of war, the idea of the inevitability of war. We really need to challenge that thinking which produces war. Your work gets into the thinking and the ideology of war, the violation of human rights which precedes war. In a sense people were left without any kind of help from the world outside. It was almost as if it was their thing and we shouldn’t get involved. You told the story in depth that needed to be told about the suffering of the Croatian people. We can never excuse violence of any kind, but I think when you see the human experience that has occurred here, it’s so profound when we start to realize the tragedy, the human tragedy on such a scale that effects so many people that it leaves an indelible imprint on people, makes it very hard to let go of the war, but you did this! The thing that is so powerful here, you really did this without any hatred. There was no hatred here. This was not a propaganda film. Anybody who would try to label it that didn’t see it! Because you did it without any bitterness, without any hatred and you did it, in a sense, the escape from despair here, is really a celebration of the human spirit, that’s why it is so powerful. I mean really, she deserves so much credit for making this film."
-Congressman Dennis Kucinich

“The film deals with a complex set of events and circumstances in a very professional manner. It weaves together the personal experiences of several individuals with the struggles of the Croatian people from after World War II to the present. Its use of scholarly commentators, political activists, personal accounts, and excellent archival material to create the sweeping story of a nation's determination to be free is accomplished masterfully. The film showing was greatly enhanced by having the author/director present and willing to respond to questions at the conclusion of the film. She brought a personal commitment and involvement that supplied a strong emotional impact for all those in attendance. The viewers were clearly caught up in the drama of the documentary, and raised significant questions about the history presented as well as the process of producing such an important film with little financial backing. The college students in particular received an important lesson in history, but even more significantly an important lesson in dedication to a project and what can be accomplished through such dedication. I was thoroughly involved in the documentary, and came away with an increased admiration for the Croatian people and their struggles to overcome both a Communist regime and Serbian domination. The film reinforced my sense of the power of a people to preserve its culture and political autonomy.”

-Dr. Thomas McFadden, President, Marymount College

“Freedom from Despair is an extraordinary, thoroughly engrossing, accomplished and very moving film.”

-Michael York, Actor

“Brenda, this film is important for the world. You’re work is admired by me, as is your personality. You’re a wonderful woman. God bless you.”

-John Savage, Actor

"I absolutely loved the film. The quality was leaps and bounds above any other film we've ever received for the International Student Film Festival Hollywood.

-Kevin McKenna, Investigative Documentaries Educating American Society

“Brenda, the movie was incredibly powerful. I thought it was a wonderful job and you must be very proud of it, and you deserve all the accolades and awards that you have been getting. You must be also very proud of your family, to do what they did was absolutely phenomenal, heart wrenching and emotional! Just a wonderful film, really masterfully done, and I really, truly was captivated by it.

-Gene Braunstien, writer/producer

“Freedom from Despair is the epitome of an independent film, a labor of love.”

-Pete Weitzner, PBS Producer

“I think it is a moving, intelligent piece; One that I learned a lot from and appreciate for that.”

-Representative, Paramount Classics
“WOW! We both loved it. You have a great understanding of the audience's mental state, where we are, what we're thinking, wondering, hoping for, and your film goes in directions easy to follow, inspiring, peaceful, and tragic. I loved the scene in the woods where the three boys were talking about seeing New York and Hollywood. Great job, you should be very proud.”
-Dave Codeglia, filmmaker
“I really liked your documentary. At some moments I found myself getting choked up. You really hit on the head the hardships the cause went through to get where it is today. It's not easy to take on this type of subject matter, and I think you did an excellent job.”
-James Codeglia, filmmaker
“You are wonderful. When I received the film I disconnected my phone to watch it without disturbance. Throughout the whole time watching it, my emotions took over and my tears were flowing. I have shown the film to close friends and all I hear from them is "oh my God, we can see ourselves in this film. We were all forced out of our home the same way." I loved it. I do thank you so much for your kindness. I'm so happy to know you and your family.”
-Anthony Dizdar, Delaware

“You certainly did a magnificent job on the film. It is very professional. It needs to be on TV so that all Americans can see it. The Croats have been persecuted and insulted enough. America needs to hear and see the real story. So keep up your good work. I wish you further success which I know you will accomplish.”

-Helen Blagdan, Chicago

“We were very moved and impressed by your film. We were both in tears at different points and though it was 95 minutes, we were captivated throughout. You truly captured the struggles of your people and it left us frustrated and angry once again at our own country's apathy when it doesn't benefit us. Your Father and Mother must be very proud of you. It took great courage and perseverance to make such a powerful film. It was also moving to be in the company of Croatians. I could feel their pain as your Father and others told their story. I bet you blew Chapman away when they saw your film. This is not a student film! Your powerful film is top notch.”

-Georgiana Gomez, filmmaker

"It was my pleasure meeting you and supporting your fantastic film. From the trailer on the web site, I knew that it was going to be a well done film, however, the editing, the in takes, the interviews, and your father’s story were amazing. His plight and belief in Croatia resonated throughout this film, and your passion was evident. It’s great that you remembered me and I thank you! Little did I know that this epic project you were working on was so wonderful and so you. You really personify grace, Hollywood and passion for Croatia. I am thrilled that you have the courage, strength and will to take on such a huge project. “Freedom of Despair” has given me the courage to write my Father’s story, and somewhere inside of me, I’ve always wanted to do a documentary on my Dad. There are literally millions of stories like our parents that should be shared and told so that these people can find their peace."

-Michelle Dunaj, South Florida

“It was an honor to watch the film today, and I am so proud of what you did to show what really happened with our country of heritage. I truly believe that you will go places in your film career - you are smart, beautiful, talented, and work hard. Keep it going, and I look forward to many more Brenda Brkusic productions."

-Tom Rinear, Los Angeles

“I enjoyed your film very much, as it made me better understand what my own father went through when escaping communist Yugoslavia. It touched both him and myself. My father escaped from Yugoslavia at a young age, and he, like your father, was born in 1939, however in Split. As a consequence from my father successfully escaping, my grandparents and first cousin were tortured for a long period of time by the secret police. As you already know, your father's experience is a story many individuals share. I am extremely glad you made this film. People throughout the world are unaware of the inhumane actions that occurred under the communist regime. This film accurately depicts the situation, and in my opinion, is a terrific representation of how to inform the public of what many individuals experienced in the former Yugoslavia.”

-Ivana Odak, Southern California
“I really liked it. It was long, but I felt like I learned a lot about something I knew nothing about. I was interested by the personal story but also the politics behind it all. Social justice is important to me. Everyone (in attendance) was interested and I think we all liked it. I really liked her (Brenda’s) attitude and, really, her presence. She was very down to earth and proud of her heritage and work. I think she is a good role model for Marymount to present to the students.”
- Student, Marymount College
“Brenda, you have grown so much over these past three years, not only in competence and skill but in a host of personal ways. You manage to combine your gentle, compassionate manner with an admirable determination and sense of justice. That is a great combination.”
-Dr. Thomas McFadden, President, Marymount College

“I had the privilege of seeing Freedom from Despair and I thought it was a courageous and remarkable film. I strongly feel this film should be in every Croatian family’s home – and every year on its national independence day all families should see it again. Freedom was bought at a very high price and many people paid so that others may live in freedom. Congratulations for a magnificent film. I am not Croatian, but I can identify with those who fight for the right, liberty and freedom of others. I’m an American born in Texas; lived in this parish over 50 years. My family has war veterans who have contributed to the freedom of the U.S.A. Congratulations.”

-Rosa M. Salazar, Los Angeles

“It's quite honestly one of my favorite selections for the festival year. As a former NYU film student I must say you have quite an impressive work here, in terms of both technique and content, something that you should rightfully be very proud of. This film is important in so many ways and I want to make sure it gets the reception that it deserves. On a personal note, I'm looking forward to meeting you and hopefully getting the chance to hear about your experiences shooting this and what you're up to next. Thanks for making such a great film to celebrate at this Festival.”

-Shawn Kittelsen, New York International Independent Film Festival
“I am pleased to share that I have been so fortunate to meet Brenda while working with her to speak at our “the Nuts and Bolts of Leadership Series.” Brenda is an intelligent and dynamic woman whose future has great promise. On behalf of Marymount College, we are proud of her accomplishments as a young alumna. Like the others who attended the Freedom from Despair screening on the Marymount College Campus, I was close to tears on several occasions. It was indeed a privilege to experience such a powerful and moving film.”
-Christine Leible, Director, Alumni Relations, Marymount College

“I would just like to say I watched the trailer of this movie and it gave me goose bumps all over. It reminded me of all the trouble us Croatians had in life without our own country and of the days my parents spent crying not knowing where any family members were during the war. I think we are the proudest country in the world where ever we are we make it known that we are Croatian. My point is it makes me proud and happy to see someone young like this make a movie about our struggles who shares the same love for our homeland as I do. As we all know, a lot of movies were made to hurt Croatians and our independence.”

-Kresimir Saric, Ontario, Canada

“Although I didn’t see the film, I feel attached to it from what I read about it, given that Yugoslav communists caused life-time disability to my father (who lives here now, and feels good here), and a lot of grievances to entire family during their reign. Your effort to disclose the evils of communism is greatly appreciated; the truth about it is soothing for the souls of all those who suffered from it. My father, and my family, surely did, a lot.”

-Ivana, Montreal, Quebec

“The people that saw the film were overwhelmed and truly moved. Everyone expressed their gratitude and appreciation. They all felt the film was EXCELLENT! Many of them came to me afterwards to relate their own personal stories. The one that got me the most was Sestra Clara. She is the definition of what a “baka” looks like and what one should be – caring, nurturing and loving. She was the first to come to me to relate how true the film was. She told me that she was in Croatia during the entire war on the front lines (she is a trained nurse). She retold how they had nothing and were being simply massacred. She was very appreciative of the film and your efforts to bring it to all Croatians and the outside world especially. Her eyes were filled with tears…my heart really went out to her. Others came to me and related similar stories. Some of the younger people in attendance were moved by the film. A few people even told the priest that another screening should be held so that more people could see the film. After hearing so many stories, it made me think that our true history is in all the stories and experiences of our people. You have made a great film and we are all proud of you.”

-Sonny Kekelj, event coordinator for Windsor, Ontario screening
“Hello, my name is Samantha Domsic. I am 13. I know that you get many emails so if you delete this email I will understand. Well, I have just seen “Freedom from Despair.” It really helped me understand a lot about Croatians and that there are people that do care about our country and their rights. I actually cried through a lot of the movie. Now I will be able to show my close friends about how beautiful our country is and why me and so many other people are proud of it. A few of them are very interested in the war, so from them they say thank you also. I would just like to say thank you!”
-Samantha Domsic, Windsor, Ontario
"Thank God for our mutual friend, Anton Dizdar, I had a chance to see you film "Freedom from Despair." Commentary: It is great, it is super, it is perfect. In consideration that it was your first film, and in consideration that you are so young, it is more than great, perfect or super. Please don't stop - you have great talent and please use it. Continue with at least one more documentary film, and later maybe with a narrative film. Please don't just stop - definitely continue. I'm sending you little gift to help you with expenses of making the film and for promotion of the film. I'm sending you a beautiful hello from Cleveland, Ohio."
-Ivan Svcic, Cleveland, Ohio
"In a time when there are a lot of films made about nothing, Freedom from Despair is a film about something very important.  It is a film that shows us that there are still things in this world that are worthy of our tears. Some films feel as if they have to be made, and this is one."
-Lewis Chesler, Juror for the 2004 Dubrovnik International Film Festival
"Freedom from Despair is a powerful, moving film, documenting a much neglected piece of modern history - Croatia’s struggle for independence from the repression of Tito's Yugoslavia and the brutality of the Balkan War. Brenda Brkusic has created a memorable portrait of a people, a culture, and one man’s hard-fought journey to freedom."
-David S. Ward, Academy Award Winning Filmmaker
"Congratulations on a magnificent film! Everyone coming to Croatia should see it. And now Iraq. You're effort has world relevence.  We must not be so passive. As for the skill, the careful crafting, the checking, the sheer hard work involved....BRAVO!  This is my first visit to Croatia but not my last. Like too many people, I never really knew where it was or what happened here.  Now, thanks to you, I know exactly - and I will spread the word. It will always be a place in my heart. May you make many more meaningful films.  Thank you for caring and sharing.
-Emily, South Africa
"Recently, I was invited to join the Los Angeles Croatian community to view the film “Freedom from Despair” by first generation Croatian Brenda Brkusic. This documentary brought attention to the inhumane and repressive Yugoslavian system where her father endured; I was captivated by her Dad’s remarkable story, his desperate life in a communist country and finally his dangerous escape. I saw his anguish, felt his pain, and rejoiced in his new life. It was like I was watching the story of my Dad, and millions of other Croatians who were forced to escape from their own home. It was an emotional time for me, much more than I expected but I found myself surrounded by fellow Croatians whose passion for our homeland was as intense as mine. "
-Michelle Dunaj, South Florida
"I just watched the film and all I can say is that it was about time for us to have a film presenting things as they actually were. Thank God and thank you Brenda for this genuine true story of Croatia. I was very moved since my own parents and many of their friends had to leave their homeland under the same circumstances. I hope that as many people as possible will have the opportunity to see this movie, both in the States and in other countries including Croatia, and that people will now understand better the Croatian history and struggle of the Croatian people for freedom and independence. We finally have a film on Croatia presenting the real history of Croatia. Young Croats in Croatia would do anything to see it."
-Kristina Kolic, Zagreb, Croatia
"Brenda's film is not only a necessary story of the Croatian people's struggle, but is also a relevant discourse on the deceit and corruption prevalent in America's own 'Democratic' system. The film is about the fragility of our basic human rights and reminds us to constantly fight to preserve them. It is the artist’s role in today's society to be a mirror for the culture. To reveal certain truths. A new wave of socially conscious artwork especially in the cinematic medium) will assist in the evolution of human consciousness. These artists need to be supported by the community in order to give rise to a collective voice for change and progress. Brenda is a true talent at the forefront of this New Renaissance and 'Freedom From Despair' provides a voice to those who need to be heard.”
-Nick Krasnic, filmmaker, New York
"English writer Martin Amis covered the atrocities committed under Stalin’s Communist regime in his book Koba the Dread. He reminded the world that 20 million people died at the hands of Communism. Finally a filmmaker dares to create a film exposing the crimes committed by another Communist dictator, Tito of Yugoslavia. This is the type of work that should be shown in schools across the globe and in countries around the former Yugoslavia. As Peter Ustinov once noted: What the world never hears about, the world assumes never happened.”
-Erica Zlomislic, Toronto, Ontario
"An excellent film on the recent history of Croatia. A powerful and moving documentary that bravely illustrates the tragedy of the breakup of the former Yugoslav republic. Very well done and deeply engrossing for anyone that is interested in the story of Croatia and its eventual move towards independence and a must see for anyone interested in the way a dictatorship sets up a culture of fear and repression.”
-Steven Klarin, San Pedro, California
"A very touching and truthful story – Thank you for bringing tears to my eyes! I too had relatives who were executed by Tito’s gang, who were imprisoned on Goli Otok and whose dreams were squashed by the Communist regime in ’71.”
-Anonymous
"Brenda...to me you are a Croatian Michael Moore! Your movie deeply touched me as my parents also risked their lives and mine (I was only a toddler) when we were forced to escape communist Yugo-slave-ia and live in a refugee camp in Italy until we were “allowed” into Canada. Living in Canada we still had to fear the long reaching arm of the UDBA (Yugoslav Secret Police) desperately trying to intimidate the Croatian immigrates from not taking any action to bring the truth out. This movie accurately portrays the hardships, anguish and atrocities committed against all Croatians directly or indirectly, first generation or third or so on. Being a teacher of heritage language in Canada, I strong believe this movie should be used as a tool to teach our children the truth about the suffering of the Croatians in Croatia and abroad. This movie should especially be shown in schools across Croatia and Bosnia and Hercegovina where our children are being told to forget and move on with their lives, that they also bare the burden of guilt for the atrocities committed during the war in Croatia. We can forgive but never forget lest we allow history to repeat it self. Teach our children.”
-Marija
"Films like this one are important contributions to us in America to realize how limited our information can be about situations around the world, and the actions or inactions our government engages in representing us. As an American of Croatian descent, it was eye-opening to me about a period in croatia that I had known little about. Excellent beginning for a new young filmmaker.”
-Lorraine, Vallejo
"Beautiful, thorough, accurate, illuminating, touching. A family story about a moment in the world politics that was ignored. See it and get enlightened….and inspired."
-Daniel McVicor, actor, The Bold and the Beautiful
"I saw this at NY Indie Int. Film Fest . FFD is a remarkable achievement for a young filmmaker. You can tell that Brkusic put heart and soul into her work, and because she cares so passionately, the audience cares with her.”
-Shawn Kittleson, filmmaker, New York
"Even as a second generation Croatian Canadian, this movie still hits home with the emotions. This movie should not only be commended for its technical merrit but also the accuracy of its content.”
-David Majetic
"Excellent, informative, thoughtful and beautifully done. Brkusic has given a voice to a population that deserves one.”
-Courtney Brkic, author
"This film has even far exceeded my most positive expectations, because it is more than just a documentary explaining things which happened. It really tells of the deep and strong emotions, wishes, hopes and dreams, from the hearts of so many, including me. And I think this film can move the heart of anyone. This film deserves to be the winner and to be shown to everyone, everywhere around the world, because it's not made to be amusement or just shocking, it has in it a motivation deeper, even deeper than revealing the truth about the past, it is even more so the wish to ignite positive action, not to ever let this horror occur again, ever, anywhere, with anyone. Everybody should see this film, Croatian or not, because the issues it is dealing with are universal and crucial to all living beings. It is about freedom, dreams, hope and perseverance, about the strength within each heart to fight on even during the hardest of circumstances. And it is about the ultimate victory in each heart of this everlasting wish for freedom, so natural and intrinsic to all life that it can never be destroyed.”
-Anonymous
"I also want to congratulate Brenda Brkusic on creating a documentary that gets to the heart of the viewer, rather than attacking the "enemy". It completely focuses on what the Croatian people lost and regained. It is a very intelligent, compassionate and moving film. I simply can not praise it enough.”
-Anonymous
"Thank you for sharing your world with so many, and for telling a story that was so hard for many of our parents to relive. The hardships, the anguish, and the atrocities, never stopped the Croatian people from believing in a better world. This account is a beautiful and true representation of what makes Croatians survivors. I humbly say thank you.”
-Zora
"A truly credible perspective on a period of history of which little is known. More films of this nature should be made, especially if told through the imagination of Ms. Brkusic.”
-Shaheen Javadizadeh
"Congratulations Brenda on a powerful and more importantly exact depiction of Croatia's struggle for freedom. Well overdue !!! I hope George Bush Senior is given the opportunity to see the death and destruction the his "hands off" policy caused us at the hands of Serbian aggressors. Again, Well done !!!”
-George Sabljak, Australia
"I was lucky enough to see this film in Croatia. It should definitely be seen in the United States. Language is NOT a problem -- there are subtitles for all. I was stunned by what I never knew, and blown away by the power of this film. I have no Croatian background, and came to this film as a person who loves "foreign" films in general. I do not give away five stars easily. This film deserves the stars, and more than that -- it deserves a much wider audience!”
-Suzanne Lord
"This movie is not only one of very few dealing with this delicate subject in history. Moreover the author even gave a plot the viewer could identify with. Thus investigative elements comparable to those of Michael Moore's 911 or Bowling for Columbine are joint with a more personal point of view describing an individual lifetime struggle.”
-Anonymous
"Freedom from Despair surpassed my previous confidence in the motion picture and the word as to their power to show the realities faced by freedom fighters of Croatia and the most difficult circumstances of the Croatian struggle for independence. I trust the film will find loyal supporters in all those who sought, or seek understanding, freedom, etc., and help them secure an enduring victory. It shows what’s the most important in one's life and why the Croats had to find the strength to realize it – they had to choose life (freedom from despair). It's so just. Thank you Brenda.”
-Voiceofcroatia.net
"A desperately needed documentary in English. Thank you Brenda for putting the truth forward.”
-Dr. Zdeslav Hrepic, Fort Hays University
"Exceptional movie. Wonderful director. Amazing performances. Ggreat interviews. Tremendous stock footage. Truthful history. In sum - Brilliant!!”
-Michael Kustra, Boston
"This film was well put together and very informative. This film should be mandatory viewing in the educational system to show what happens when the world is mislead by one side of a forced marriage, such as Yugo/Serb propaganda, and the consequences of the world's power of inaction or inability to right injustice.”
-Anonymous
"This is an excellent film and I have been looking forward to seeing this for quite some time but the locations they were showing it at were not close at all. My father has suffered from these atrocities and from the hands of the UDBA and I appreciate the realistic view of this film. This is a great documentary similar to Hotel Rwanda but without the actors. Great job by Brenda and her associates! I will recommend this to all of my Croatian friends.”
-Anonymous
"On February 20th, 2005 we had a record crowd attending our family dinner. After the excellent meal we saw Brenda Brkusic's acclaimed film "Freedom from Despair." If you have not seen it yet find out where you can see it. It is a wonderful and enlightening film. Brenda's mother and father flew here form Chicago and we had several other out-of-towners with us."
-The Croatian American Club, San Pedro, CA
"I was born in Canberra from Croatian parents and have lived here my whole life. However my blood has always been and will always be, just as my children will be, Croatian. I would just like to say that I have watched your production and it was brilliant. Not because it taught me something about Croatian oppression after World War II or about the evil of communism, but it made me see, for the first time what my father and many others went through. I believe your film is the story of hundreds of thousands of Croatians who fled communism many years ago. I believe this is something that every Croatian should have the opportunity to watch. Congratulations on your achievement.”
-Robert Skrnjug, Australia
"Great film which shows the struggle of the Croatian people for freedom and independence from the hell which was Yugoslavia. With films such as this one the truth will come out slowly but surely. The first Yugoslavia (1918-1941) and the second one (1945-1991) were not accepted by the Croatian people (nor by most other people within Yugoslavia), it was basically a vehicle for the expansion of Serbia's borders to the west at the expense of others (mainly Croatians). The same forces which created the first 2 Yugoslavia's are again today working on the third version, and that is why films such as 'Freedom From Despair' are so crucial in portraying what really happened and that we never have to live through that again. If I can use a phrase from the film: "CROATIA MUST BE FREE!"
-Boban
"Film “Freedom from Despair” shown last friday, May 13, 2005 at Our Lady Queen of Croatia Church, at 7 Croatia Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has moved all, young and old. Very many in the audience re lived their own or some other family member’s hard life under communist Yugoslavia, escape and hardship they had to endure. We thank Ms. Brenda Brkusic for a job well done. With only lightly touching Croatian tragedy, she was able to make a strong statement through this film. We, call upon all to support this young talent, to mature and reach her ultimate potential. Thank you Ms. Brenda Brkusic, thank you for loving our Croatia just as much as we born Croatians do. God bless You."
-Bob & Marija Markic
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