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Rajko Grlić, an Ohio eminent scholar of film, poses with the Grand Prize of the Americas from the Montreal World Film Festival. (Provided via Mike Downey)

Athena to screen film by Montreal World Film Festival winner and OU teacher

Since getting his first camera and directing a film when he was only 15 years old, Rajko Grlić, an international, award-winning filmmaker, has come to Ohio University to teach filmmaking to masters students after being named an Ohio eminent scholar in film.

Grlić, who has now been making films for 54 years, won the Grand Prize of the Americas at the Montreal World Film Festival in September for the feature film he co-wrote and directed, The Constitution, which takes place is Croatia.

The Athena Cinema will hold a free screening of the film on Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.

The film focuses on how people are naturally prejudiced, but when certain things happen, those prejudices need to be put aside.

Grlić referred to the film as “a love story about hate,” meaning “it’s about how we see each other and we don’t know a lot about each other, but we have some kind of a cliche (about other people).”

The four characters all have different views on religion, nationality, sexual orientation, as well as marital status.

The characters in the movie are all very different from one another, leading them to judge the others before truly knowing them. Adversity strikes, making all of them come together.

“They are forced to communicate and depend on each other,” Grlić said.

Making films in Europe is quite different from making films in the United States, Grlić said. The process includes years of finding funding and following strict rules about where filmmakers are allowed to get money from, he added.

“It’s a very long, complicated process because in each country, the rules are different,” Grlić said.

After two and a half years of writing the script, Grlić and his crew were able to finally start searching for production funds.

“We spent a year finding the money,” Grlić said. “In Europe, basically the rule is you have to raise money in your own country first.”

The crew was able to get funding from Croatia, the Czech Republic, Macedonia and Slovenia.

After getting the production funding, Grlić and his crew began pre-production and production, which took over half a year.

Three film students from OU accompanied Grlić in Croatia to study on a professional set for a feature film.

Luke Fisher, a graduate student studying film who worked with Grlić, said he learned a lot about how to behave on set, specifically in Croatia.

“Whenever I have time, I sit with them and explain why I do the things I do.” Grlić said. “I think those two weeks (on set) are worth more than a year of learning.”

Wenting Deng, another graduate student studying film who worked with Grlić, said she was grateful Grlić would still teach despite the set being busy.

“He is very kind and patient with the cast and crew," Deng said. "He respects everyone's work.”

After the film was finished, it was entered into the Montreal World Film Festival and won Grand Prize of the Americas. Grlić was happy to see that the film won, but he was more focused on how the award would affect the film. He said the award gives the film a “seal of approval” in a way, ensuring that it was worth the time and money spent.

“These awards are helping films to be seen,” Grlić said.


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