First Films First


PULA / Croatia


Andrej was born in 1970. in the city of Pula, Croatia. He studied machinery in Zagreb and moved to London, UK to study Film and Television at Westminster University. After the studies he moved back to Croatia where he started to work professionally. The main domain of his commercial work is advertising. He has directed hundreds of ads nationally and internationally for many prominent clients. His artistic work includes short films, music videos and documentaries. His docs were awarded several times and shown around the globe. He is currently working on feature length documentary and preparing first fiction feature. He is selector of short film at Motovun Film Festival and a member of Croatian Guild of Film Directors.


It is the year 1995. Mahan is a 35-year-old refugee from Bosnia. He has been living in Pula for several years, in a hotel named after the town and which was modified into a refugee centre during the war. While the other refugees try to overcome the war traumas through socializing and talk, Mahan is spending his time alone, always in some distant thoughts of his own. His days are monotonous and empty, and his history is unknown.
A spark of life will be awakened in Mahan by Una, a 16-year-old girl from Pula, who is intuitively drawn by his dark, mysterious appearance. The two of them will start a love affair, at first in secret.
A hint of some new and better life for Mahan will be undermined by Vahida, a woman from his past, who came to Pula with a belief that Mahan knows what happened in war to her loved ones.
The thing that attracted Una to Mahan in the past now becomes unbearable – she doesn’t know anything about him and he doesn’t want to say anything. It was the end of the love affair.


The project PULA is a love story and it does not represent any “statement” about the 1990s and the life lived in a way that should never happen again. My balcony in Pula overlooks the ex-military barracks which were populated by people who lost everything they had. Mahan must have also slept in one of those rooms. Just below the Hotel Pula, we, the kids back then, were sunbathing and listening to punk music, while Mahan and people like him were looking for a minimum dignity in a foreign and alien environment. This is a story about them.

Mahan is an enigma that draws us into the story in which we will never learn the end, a story that will get under the skin, which we would sense by his perceptual experience and which we do not want to illustrate plastically.

Although 16-years old Una was subtle and complex from the beginning, we deepened her relationship with her mother, her little brother, her schoolmates and lovers so that the climax of her relationship with her surroundings, and in the end also her doomed relationship with Mahan, was layered and dramatically founded.
With the motif of Vahida and the secret of the past, which seemed interesting as a \”device\” for Mahan’s final breakdown, we revealed the character and the motivation. Vahida is a ghost from the past that will return them into the black dead sea of the sea surrounding Pula in the 1990s.

From the visual point of view, just like the narrative, the film should follow the spirit of the age. The \”stylised reality\” bordering the pretended documentarism, is a photographic, scenographic and the setting strategy that this story requires. The audience should have the feeling of presence in the realistic scenes located in the historic period and they must identify with it in order to put the story in his perception into life. A story like this requires precisely chosen cast. The audience must trust into our actors, they must be true both in their interpretation and in their slang and dialect. In order to trust in them, and thus in the story itself, the actors must be skilled in transformation, to show the affinity towards intensive emotional situations.
The choice of crew will be extended to the whole region, so we can find the people who closely match the characterisation and fresh and less exploited faces.

Producer: Dijana Mladenović (Kinematograf)
Funding: Croatian Audiovisual Center, RE-ACT Development Fund, City of Pula, County of Istria

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