ZAGREB: The epic war biopic The General / General, directed by Antun Vrdoljak and produced by Kiklop film in coproduction with the Croatian Television, attracted 8,000 cinemagoers on 5 August 2019, ahead of the official distribution which starts on 8 August 2019. The film starring Goran Visnjic is the first big Croatian war spectacle after the Yugoslav era and one of the most expensive domestic projects since the 1990’s.
The production had been announced and delayed for several years and filming took five months on more than 20 locations in Croatia and France in 2018. The Croatian Television contributed to the project with 1.23 m EUR, while the Croatian Audiovisual Centre supported it with 568,644 EUR. The production also had unconditional support of the Croatian Ministry of Defence and sponsorships by biggest national companies. The total budget is estimated at over 3 m EUR.
Monday pre-screenings in several Croatian cities coincided with the national celebration of the Victory Day, marking the anniversary of the Operation Storm, which brought the Croatian war for independence to an end on 5 August 1995. The military operation was led by the general Ante Gotovina, an ex-French legionnaire and the main character of The General, who is now portrayed by the Croatian-born Hollywood actor Goran Visnjic.
Celebrated as a war hero by many, Gotovina was later charged for war crimes against the Serb minority and spent years hiding from the International Criminal Tribunal. He was arrested in a hotel on Tenerife in 2005 and brought to court, where he was cleared of all charges in 2010.
“The trial of general Gotovina was the main reason for making this film. I thought it might help to convince the Tribunal of his innocence. Now I understand I was a bit naive, but I’m glad the film finally reached its audience”, said the director after the pre-premiere screening in the city of Split on 5 August 2019.
The film had its world premiere at the opening of the Pula Film Festival (13 – 21 July 2019), where it attracted 5,000 spectators. More detailed box office numbers remain unavailable as the audience at the premiere and pre-distribution screenings was a mix of ticket buyers and guests. The film will be released by Blitz film & video.
Following the 163-minute film, an eight-episode TV series The General will premiere on Croatian Television in the autumn of 2019.