Alumna Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović '17 Signs with UTA & Brillstein Entertainment Group
BY Angeline Dimambro, August 11, 2021
Kusijanović was awarded the Camera d'Or for Murina, which she co-wrote alongside fellow alumnus Frank Graziano ’18. Directed by Kusijanović, Murina follows a small family made up of young mother Nela, teenaged Julija, and strict father Ante. The family's world on a Croatian island is rocked by the visit of an old family friend. While Ante is absorbed in a land deal, Nela and Julija must deal with their complex relationships to the foreigner's presence in their home.
Murina, which was produced in part by Martin Scorscese’s Sikelia Productions, premiered at Cannes in the Director’s Fortnight category. In a review for Deadline, film critic Anna Smith called Murina “a gorgeous-looking film that makes full use of its location by the glistening sea, which becomes a character in itself.”
The film has also been lauded for the performances of its talented cast and leading lady Gracija Filipovic, who plays Julija, in particular. Kusijanović discussed her long creative history with Filipovic in an interview with Deadline.
“I first met Gracija when she was nine,” Kusijanović said. “She had a very small role in a short film I did for Columbia University. And then we worked together on a music video—I picked her from around 100 people in a casting process. But then it really started with Into The Blue [Kusjanović’s award-winning short film]. I would say that the relationship was more mothering back then, and over the years it grew into friendship and then real collaboration.”
The title of the film also holds special significance for Kusijanović.
“Murina means Moray eel,” Kusijanović said during a visit to Deadline’s Cannes Studio. “It’s a very secretive, ominous, uncanny animal. When attacked, she will bite her own flesh to free herself. The animal has a double jaw—one for biting, one for eating. It was a metaphor for the main character, who is ready to destroy everything around her—her family, even herself—to free herself.”
As described in an interview with ScreenDaily, her upcoming second feature is about “a woman from Croatia who disappears in the shadow of the metropolis, living in a tribe and confronting its role when faced with her husband’s infidelity.”
Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović is a writer-director born in Dubrovnik and based in New York. Her short, Into the Blue, was nominated for a Student Academy Award, and won awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, Oberhausen Film Festival, and the Festival de Premier Plans, Angers, among many others. Murina is Kusijanović’s first feature film, developed with support from the Résidence du Festival Cannes, Cinéfondation, First Films First by the Goethe-Institut, and Jerusalem Film Lab. She holds an MA from Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb and an MFA in screenwriting and directing from Columbia University in New York. Kusijanović is an alumna of the Berlinale Talent Lab, Sarajevo Talent Lab, La Femis Producing Atelier, and the Marcie Bloom Fellowship.