A Documentary is Not Happening to Someone Else

author Nenad Puhovski
interviewed by Željko Luketić


Interwieved in Zagreb on 12 February 2015


Exactly before the final preparations for the 11th ZagrebDox Festival, we talked to Nenad Puhovski in his office in Zagreb’s Nova Ves Street. ZagrebDox is managed by the production house Factum, founded and headed by Puhovski as well. Today, boasting the reputation of the first and largest company of this type in Croatia and a catalogue with over 70 titles of documentary films that have not gone unnoticed, Factum and Puhovski can be satisfied with their results. Nevertheless, as it is often the case in our country, it has not always been like that. 


Confirming the rule that it is best to establish a business in the times when it seems that everything tends to go against success, Nenad Puhovski established Factum in 1997. Later on, this production company established ZagrebDox, one of the four largest Croatian film festivals. In this entire process, creative changes occurred in relation to the category of documentary film – not only were another good festival and production brought about, but their appearance also changed the perception of the documentary itself. Long time ago reserved for television broadcast alone and for narrowly specialised day’s programming schedule, this format is at present time well received in the cinemas, equal to feature length fiction films, interesting to broad audience, and is even becoming a preferred form of expression for many filmmakers. Why is that? What has changed in documentary film, and how come that the author himself has become an important part of the story? Nenad Puhovski, along with all that has already been said, is also a University teacher, lecturer, as well as author of his own films, and someone who has dedicated his entire life to documentary film – and he knows the answers to these questions.


ORIS: When you prepare the programme for the ZagrebDox Festival, to what extent is the very theme of a documentary important, or even crucial? What is more important to the audience, when they come to see a film: the theme or the film as an aesthetic and artistic experience?


Nenad Puhovski: I would say that still a smaller portion of people is interested in documentary film as an artistic expression, or in the author, the awards that the film won, the film’s pre-life at the festivals and so on. These are people who are interested in film continuously: filmmakers, critics, students and film buffs, as one would say, in other words, cinephiles. So, there are more or less two types of the audience, which does not mean that these audiences will not overlap at some point. What is important is that we want to make and show films for very different people. And in these terms, if I may say, this festival is truly unique in this region. Because it addresses the audience as young as secondary school students and we have the special programme TeenDox for them, all the way to the senior citizens. What I am immensely glad about is the fact that there are people who use their annual leave in order to be able to watch as many films as possible at ZagrebDox.