‘Mar’
‘14’
The Priest’s Children

The Priest’s Children

A colourful, fun and breezy take on sex and religion, Vinko Brešan’s The Priest’s Children is a comedy charmer.

A colourful, fun and breezy take on sex and religion, Vinko Brešan’s The Priest’s Children is a comedy charmer. Though sex is at its heart, there is nothing too explicit about the goings-on, and the picturesque Dalmatian island backdrop looks picture postcard perfect.

Young Catholic priest Fabian (Krešimir Mikić) is sent to the tiny island to take over from elderly priest Jakov (Zdenko Botic) but the old man is so popular that locals lobby to have him stay on the island and take mass occasionally. Fabian is bemused by the lack of births on the island, until he discovers there is a roaring trade in under-the-counter condoms. Local tobacconist Petar (Nikša Butijer) admits to Fabian in confession that he is supplying the condoms, and Fabian convinces him that it would be God’s will to start puncturing each condom packet. They are joined by the local pharmacist Marin (Drazen Kuhn), who secretly replaces birth control pills with vitamins. Before long the birthrate – and marriage rate – on the island start increasing, with foreign TV crews even showing an interest in this island of love.

At home in Croatia it was the top-grossing domestic production of the year (and the third highest-grossing of all time since Croatia achieved independence) and it has since had an international impact in Festivals and on release.

 

Cast: Krešimir Mikić, Nikša Butijer, Marija Škaričić
Dir: Vinko Brešan Int sales Wide Management UK & Ireland distributors CinéFile 2012 96 mins
Director’s Statement

The fact that Croatia is a predominantly Catholic country and the fact that the Catholic Church in Croatia is a dominant, governing institution, left me, as a director, with no other option but to make a film about it. The initiative of the pope Benedict XVI partially allowing the use of condoms has put me, completely blameless, in a position in which the local story I wanted to tell suddenly became a global one. Personally, I don’t believe that there could be a better setting for such a story than the Balkanic Mediterranean I know best because I myself am a Balkanic-Medlterranean man who grew up in Sibenik, a small town on the Adriatic coast. The Balkanic-Mediterranean carries in itself a kind of fabular, emotional, visual madness which is equally convincing and real on one side, and

extremely surreal on the other, while the Catholic church and its dogmas carry conflicts of veracity and manipulation, celibacy and sexuality, love for your fellow being and pedophilia, religion and hypocrisy … I am sure that the spectator can recognize all these elements together in one movie and accept them as real only through the genre of comedy, folk-comedy, comedy full of film gags, comedy with vulgarity of the kind we find in a „commedia dell’arte”. (Hasn’t Bunuel used humour discourse for his surrealistic narration?)

However, the reality we are living in does not allow me to remain exclusively on comedy and that is why, in the second part of the movie, I had to add the elements of drama into the comical structure, at first imperceptibly and then more and more obviously. These little dramatic elements are the sign that the end of the movie will be marked by seriousness and tragedy. Simply because life is something without a strictly defined genre, the interlacing of comedy and tragedy.

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