Why does HAVC demand that the screenplay by Ivona Juka leaves out the sex scene of two Croatian soldiers?

Croatian Audiovisual Centre (HAVC) refused to finance a new film directed by Ivona Juka whose screenplay did not pass the recent tender because of, according to Nacional, scene of a gay sex which was, in the opinion of Dean Šoša, HAVC art advisor, ''aesthetically unacceptable''. Talking to crol.hr, Juka stated that the review was ''highly discriminatory'' which is the reason why the responsible ones should be dismissed, while the film will be recorded because it is dealing with human dignity and is important for our society.

Just three weeks since the beginning of June when Ivona Juka won the annual reward ''Vladimir Nazor'' for a scenario and direction of a movie called You Carry Me, HAVC has refused to finance her new feature film ''My Private War Criminal'' whose screenplay includes a love story between two Croatian soldiers, writes Nacional.

Recommendations which films should be financed this year were brought by HAVC's art advisors Dean Šoša, recently resigned editor of the Croatian National Television's Third Channel, and Dalibor Matanić, the director. Project's rejection is by itself not surprising at all, but the explanation delivered to Juka by HAVC and signed by Šoša definitely is.

According to Nacional, Šoša praised the screenplay in the rejection letter. However, he pointed out one problem – two Croatian soldiers from the film's plot are homosexuals who are making love on the island, which is, according to HAVC's art advisor, an unnecessary provocation.

''One can assume that this scene would cause unprecedented reactions of war veterans, residents of Dubrovnik, etc. In that sense, the provocation would achieve its goal, but from the aesthetic point of view, I absolutely do not understand why would this scene be included in the film'' stated Šoša and concluded ''My recommendation for the following tenders would be to omit previously mentioned scene and to continue working on the scenario'', states Nacional.

We asked HAVC's art advisor Dean Šoša for a comment as well, but he only told us that he was ''truly disappointed and does not want to comment anything''.

The plot of the film ''My Private War Criminal'', as Ivona Juka presented it to HAVC during the tender, is the following: ''Three friends on the open sea are kidnapping a toothless old man who was their jailer in the concentration camp. They are taking him to Dubrovnik, where he gets his teeth implanted. We are simultaneously following participants of the annual celebration of Tiger operation, which freed the Dubrovnik area, and their war stories that are talking about the absurdity of life during the war. It becomes known that the jailer was breaking prisoners' teeth, but when those three friends brought him to the island with his new smile, they refrained from disclosing his identity and humiliating him''.

Talking to crol.hr, the director Ivona Juka confirmed allegations from Nacional and provided her own comment on the whole situation:

''I have read the article in Nacional, so I can confirm it is true. Actually, this article talks much more about the state of our film fund which is ingratiating with every political power, i.e. it talks about people who are only trying to maintain their position to a certain function.

They do not have their own attitude and beliefs, i.e. they are willing to sell or change them at any time, depending on the current party having the power. They will betray left and right, depending on what suits them at that moment.

Of course, the decisions they make have nothing to do with the quality of works of art they are responsible for. The text in Nacional provides evidence their hard battle for survival regardless of whether the government is right or left, as well as their decisions taken accordingly''.

When asked if she finds it to be about homophobia or some other reasons, the director Juka answered:

"Apparently, I'm not allowed to comment on the review that I have received, being threatened by large financial damages if their reviews go public. Why? It is not clear to me at all because they have our money on disposal and are required to give us public information, i.e. public reviews that explain the basis of their decisions.

I must point it out to your readers who should understand why I distance myself from a particular statement in which I reveal the review's content, and I ask you for understanding as well because I find myself in a difficult position and do not know whom to turn to, since that review was highly discriminatory and serves as a sufficient motive for an immediate dismissal of the responsible one'', says Ivona Juka and adds:

''However, I am allowed talk about my own screenplay, so that you can conclude it by yourselves. The love story between two young men is very beautiful, powerful and strong. It is not about one scene, as stated in Nacional's text, but about a significant part of the screenplay which is highly important.

Those who want to prevent me from making this film are definitely aware that I would make a f***** awesome film with an unprecedented homosexual relationship, and that is what they are afraid of. As in all my films, I deal with strong characters.

Stopping me from making this film harms both me as an author and the LGBT community which might finally see themselves not as 'poor and incompetent victims' or 'comic' caricatures as they are usually portrayed in domestic films, but as strong and powerful people. I will make that film because it is dealing with human dignity and is important for the society we live in'', says in the end the director Ivona Juka for crol.hr.