August 28, 2023


On Saturday, 26 August 2023, the Federal Minister of Culture and Sports, Sanja Vlaisavljević, attended the opening programme of the 28th Days of the Croatian Film “Ivo Gregurević” in Orašje.

The programme started with the opening ceremony of the “Ivo Gregurević” Cultural Centre, which was opened by Dr. Dragan Čović, Chair of the Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Then, the attendees visited the the “Karaula-Donja Mahala” cemetery, where Ivo Gregurević was buried. In the evening, the Solemn Academy on the great actor’s life and career was held, at which Iljo Benković, Chair of the Festival Organizing Committee, Mijo Marić, President of the Croatian Heritage Foundation from Zagreb, co-organizer of the Festival, the special envoy of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, Secretary of the Central State Office for Croats outside of the Republic of Croatia, Zvonko Milas, and minister Sanja Vlaisavljević spoke. This largest cultural event in Posavina was officially opened by the Chair of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Borjana Krišto.

We are transcribing Minister Vlaisavljević’s speech in its entirety:

It is a great honour of mine to be here with you today at the opening of the 28th Days of the Croatian Film “Ivo Gregurević”. It’s not easy to come to this place and talk about… No, I’m saying it wrong! Let me tell you a story instead.

It’s a story about a man sitting right next to you. Next to each of you. He is even whispering: “What is she talking about!? There’s nothing to say, you’re just doing your job.”

He always sits there and will always be sitting and watching us, watching what and how we do and whether it is the best time for what we do. We would perhaps ask him if it was, and he would answer: “The best time is neither the one that has passed nor the one that is coming, but the one that is happening right now.” And tomorrow the best time will be tomorrow again, because tomorrow will be now again.

Ivo was an actor or, in fact, he wasn’t. He was always Ivo – Ivo whatever clothes he wore. And Ivo, tell us, is life an act? He would look and briefly say in his own style: “Acting is life.” The next question please, but a quick one, you know I don’t like interviews.”

However, he could still talk about one topic – his Donja Mahala. The Sava river. Well, he did not reach the Black Sea through the Sava, although he dreamt about it as a boy, looking at the stars at night.

The boy grew up, left Donja Mahala, but returned, returning more and more to his childhood, as he says, and when the Bosnia flooded his house, he finally returned. He also knew that despite everything, the Croats would not disappear from there. He would say: “I am an optimist. We will survive even though there are far fewer of us than before.” He knew that the Days of Croatian Film would be right here and gather not only Croats, but all those who know how to love and who believe that everything is possible even when it’s difficult. And now he would tell me: “It’s not pronounced “Hrvati” (Croats), but Rvati, and not Donja Mahala but Maala.” We don’t have h, that’s all been thrown out. You have to learn it!”

And the beginnings of the Croatian film in Posavina were right there where Ivo and his seven friends acted day and night and gave roles to others. True, Paca was the boss and Marijan hid them if they made too many mistakes. The boys grew up, and Ivo, at the dawn of freedom in his Posavina, started this collection of beautiful encounters.

Ivo Gregurević’s festival in Orašje became famous, they would tell him, and he would say “Iljo Benković is my assistant. There is a group of us that decide which actor and director will receive the award. The prizes are gold ducats.” Real ducats. But it’s not just ducats, but also wine and brandy and ham. It is all eaten and drunk in a couple of days. But it is important that the Festival continues, the Sava flows, people come right here and wait to see what Ivo whispered to Benković every year. And she always whispers more and better. He said that life would go like this: “You snap your fingers and that’s it.” That’s how he fell asleep, suddenly and out of nowhere. Although, he would like to live not until the age of 150, but two thousand years, five thousand years at least… Only then could he say something serious about life…

And he’s alive, here he is sitting with us and waiting for the opening of the new and even better Croatian Film Festival. And what will happen in two thousand years?

Well, this was the story of the man who gathered us again this year here, in Orašje, who set us a difficult task. He gave us roles and said: “Now you work, there is nothing to talk about.”

Thank you!