Veljko Bulajić

Veljko Bulajić

Bulajić with Ewa Krzyżewska in 1960.
Born (1928-03-22) 22 March 1928
Vilusi, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Residence Zagreb, Croatia
Education Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia
Occupation Film director
Years active 1953–present
Notable work Vlak bez voznog reda, Kozara, Bitka na Neretvi, Veliki transport
Spouse(s) Vlasta Bulajić

Veljko Bulajić (born 22 March 1928) is a Croatian Montenegrin film director. He has spent the majority of his life working in Croatia and is primarily known for directing the Yugoslav state-sponsored World War II-themed movies from the Partisan film genre. Bulajić was a soldier in World War II having joined the Yugoslav Partisans resistance group at the age of 13. Bulajic and his two older brothers were all wounded in battle. His oldest brother, Đorđe, succumbed to his injuries. The two surviving brothers, Veljko and Stevan, would later co-write the movies Kozara and Battle of Neretva.[1][2] According to the Croatian Public Broadcasting Company, his films have reached an audience in excess of 500 million viewers worldwide.[3]


Bulajić was born in the village of Vilusi near Nikšić, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. His debut film Train Without a Timetable was a complex drama dealing with the interactions among people who were forcefully leaving their ancestral homes in order to move to new, yet undeveloped farmland. The film was nominated for the Palme d'or[4] at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 1962 his film Kozara brought him international attention and was awarded the Big Golden Arena for Best Film at the Yugoslav National Film Awards. The film had the honor and privilege of premiering in the world's largest museum, the French Louvre[5] It was entered into the 3rd Moscow International Film Festival where it won the Golden Prize.[6] Bulajic was a member of the jury at the 4th Moscow International Film Festival.[7]

In 1969 he wrote and directed the legendary war film Battle of Neretva. "Neretva" is the seventh most expensive non-English movie ever produced. Pablo Picasso created one of the promotional posters for the film. The soundtrack was created by Oscar-winning composer Bernard Herrmann and [8] the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[9]

Awards and recognition

In 2010, the Commission of the 32nd Moscow International Film Festival included Battle of Neretva in its list of the 10 most important films ever made about World War II. This put the film in the company of masterpieces such as The Bridge on the River Kwai by David Lean and Empire of the Sun by Steven Spielberg.[8]

Throughout his career, Bulajic has worked with a number of Hollywood stars including Orson Welles, Sergei Bondarchuk, Franco Nero, Christopher Plummer and Yul Brynner.

Some of Bulajic's most notable film awards include; ten golden arena awards at the Pula Film Festival,[10] the Lion of Saint Mark at the Venice Film Festival, the audience award at the Cannes Film Festival, a Golden Nymph Award at the Monte-Carlo Television Festival, the Gold Medal at the Moscow International Film Festival, a lifetime achievement award at the MedFilm Festival, the prestigious Kalinga Prize awarded by the Director-General of UNESCO, and Europe's oldest film prize – the Nastro d'Argento awarded by the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists.[11]

Bulajic served on the Cannes Film Festival jury in 1968, 1969 and 1980.[12] He is one of only 15 people all-time to have served on the jury three or more times. Bulajic has also served on the juries of the Venice Film Festival, San Sebastian Film Festival and Delhi International Film Festival.[13][11] In a 2011 article the American political-journalism organization Politico referred to Bulajic as "one of the most successful director's of his day".[14]

In 2016 he was recognized with a SEE Film Legend Award by the International Committee of the South East European Film Festival.[15]

Bulajic has been recognized with several state awards and medals. These include: The Award of the Anti-Fascist Council of National Liberation of Yugoslavia, which was the highest state award in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,[11] the "Sacred Ground of Stalingrad" award of the Soviet Union, the Montenegrin award "July 13th ", the City of Skopje (Macedonia) Award, the City of Zagreb (Croatia) Award and the Vladimir Nazor Award for Life Achievement in Film awarded by the Republic of Croatia for outstanding contributions to the arts and culture.[11]

Selected filmography


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