Croatia Takes the Stage at SXSW

WHY IT RATES: Croatian artists showcase the creativity of the country and why it’s tourism star continues to rise —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

As many are getting ready to head to Austin, Texas, for SXSW 2019, two Croatian imports will also be at this dynamic conference to showcase to the world how Croatia inspires and fuels creativity.

This year, SXSW 2019 will take place from March 8-17, becoming more than just an event, but 10 days of conferences, screenings, showcases, exhibitions, networking and of course, music. Specifically, the SXSW Festivals offer attendees a chance to experience film, music, among other events from various artists around the world.

During this year’s SXSW Film Festival, Aleksi, the directorial debut of Dubrovnik filmmaker Barbara Vekaric, which will have its North American premiere on March 8th and can be screened at the Alamo Ritz on March 9th (at 10:30pm) and March 11th (at 5:15 p.m.) and at the Alamo LaMar on March 13th (at 5:45 p.m.).

Filmed on Croatia’s beautiful Peljesac peninsula situated along the country’s Dalmatian coast, Aleksi is trying to find her own path and break from her parent’s expectations while living under their roof. According to Vekaric, Aleksi is “a character we don’t often see in cinema—an artistic, rebellious, smart, sensitive and thoughtful young woman who is also unapologetically sexual. She is more of an anti-heroine. The movie showcases her relationships… and represents the kinds of women that I recognize in my day to day life. Ones that are proactive, have their own agency, don’t just react to the men around them, and have their own point of view.”

Furthermore, Vekaric explained that the filming location on the Peljesac peninsula is where her family roots originated. Vekaric spent summers in Orebic with her grandparents and stated, “In a superficial sense, it’s a typically beautiful seaside village, which few people have seen and where no Croatian film has ever been made. But this sumptuously photogenic area also reflects the prison of circumstance that confine our character because of its isolation.”

Peljesac is a destination with a deep history of winemaking, and sea salt and oyster harvesting, which some consider to be the tastiest in the world. Additionally, in a country with more than 100 castles and fortifications, it is also home to the Walls of Ston, a fortification structure with 20 remaining towers (of the original 40) and five fortresses, built to defend the city of Ston and the Republic of Ragusa from conquerors during the 14th and 15th centuries.

Peljesac’s connection to the Adriatic Sea has made it a popular destination for those who enjoy active adventures, hiking, biking, diving, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, and other activities.

Nationally, Aleksi was the Opening Film of the Pula Film Festival 2018, Brac Film Festival 2018 and Motovun Film Festival 2018. Internationally, the film was selected for participation at the South by Southwest 2019, Fest 2019 (regional/Serbian premiere) and the Fribourg International Film Festival (Swiss premiere.)

In addition to the North American premiere of Aleksi, Croatia’s second import at SXSW 2019 Music Festival will be performances by the band, Jonathan, on March 13th at Parish at 11 p.m. and March 14th at the Flatstock Convention Center at 3:30 p.m. The music festival has been a gathering of global musicians, allowing attendees to discover new talent and takes place during the overall conference from March 11-17th and will feature artists from more than 60 countries, with more than 2,000 official performers seeking new audiences.

The band, Jonathan, is made up of five close friends Zoran Badurina (vocals), Branko Kovacic (drums), Nikica Jurjevic (bass), Darko Petkovic (guitar) and Tomislav Radinovic (guitar) from the port city of Rijeka, located in the Kvarner region on Croatia’s western coast.

According to the band’s biography, they came together in 2011 after many years with other bands and the band’s name reflects their unity as a “metaphorical single person with a blend of character traits and whimsies from each band member.” These five experienced musicians have ever since been on a mission to tear down geographic and linguistic borders – with some stating the band is a mix of Roxy Music, Barry White and David Bowie.

The band’s popularity in Croatia is undeniable, officially debuting on the Croatian music scene in November 2013 with the single and instant hit “Maggie.” The debut single was followed by their debut album “Bliss,” and was listed as one of the top albums in 2014 and put the band on the map with massive airplay on radio stations across the country.

The band played sold-out clubs and music festivals throughout the country, especially in their home town of Rijeka, as well as one of the most significant clubs in Croatia-Tvornica culture, when the band opened for a big Editors to a sold out concert in Zagreb. Internationally, one of the highlights for the band was during the summer of 2017 when they opened for one of the greatest American indie rock bands, The Killers, at the Exit Festival.

The port city of Rijeka is Croatia’s principal port and third largest city, after Zagreb and Split. It is located in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, situated on Kvarner Bay in the Kvarner region. As a port city, with a long history of maritime excellence and shipbuilding, the region has long benefited from its ties to the Adriatic Sea with a rich hospitality and tourism legacy and as the country’s wellness destination.

Due to its location along the Adriatic, visitors to this region are drawn by the benefits of the captivating phenomenon known as the “Kvarner” effect, which embodies all elements that are so special to Croatia and is the ultimate in rejuvenation, health and wellness-taking hold as the earth, ocean, and wind naturally energizes and restores health, vitality and balance. Furthermore, its connection to the Adriatic makes it a popular destination for those interested in the regions gastronomy offerings with deep ties to regional dished from the land and sea. Next year, Rijeka will become the European City of Culture in 2020.

Situated along the Adriatic Sea with more than 3,625 miles stunning coastline, dotted by more one thousand islands, Croatia has quickly set itself apart from other European destinations. The country’s mix of old-world European charm, easy Mediterranean lifestyle, fascinating history, rich culture, delectable cuisine and natural beauty—10 UNESCO World Heritage sites and eight magnificent National Parks, considered to be some of Europe’s most well-preserved sites—continues to be an inspiration for all who live there or visit.

Croatia attracts television and filmmakers to its shores with its medieval towns serving as the natural backdrop for some notable blockbuster films, and its world-class beaches have attracted some of the world’s best and most popular music festivals–especially during the summer–when festivals such as Hideout Music Festival on Zrce Beach on Pag Island, or the biggest and most well-known summer festival, ULTRA held during July in Split, Hvar, Vis and Brac.

SOURCE: Croatian National Tourist Office press release.

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