Rajko Grlic
Rajko Grlic

OU Film Professor Honored with “50 Years” Award

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A filmmaker and professor from Ohio University’s School of Dance, Film, and Theater has received an award for his longstanding contributions to cinema.

Rajko Grlić, Ohio Eminent Scholar in Film, was presented the “50 Years” Award at the Motovun Film Festival, which took place from July 25 to July 29 in the village of Motovun, Croatia. As its name suggests, the “50 Years” Award is given to filmmakers who have worked in the Croatian film industry for at least five decades.

“I made my first film 51 years ago,” said Grlić, who joked that the award meant that he officially was “old.”

Grlić is no stranger to the Film Festival: A co-founder of the event, he served as its artistic director for 12 years before stepping down from the role in 2009. Grlić called the honor “very flattering” and added that he was “quite surprised” when he got the call.

The director and scriptwriter, whose films have been supported by the College of Fine Arts over the years, typically recruits OU students to come work on his productions.

Established in 1999, the Motovun Film Festival has a reputation for presenting a diverse collection of films from around the world. The week-long event includes outdoor screenings, readings and concerts. It originally was conceived at a time when most of the films being screened in the country were from the United States. What started as a relatively small event has grown to draw some 50,000 visitors (many of whom are backpackers). The Guardian newspaper has described Motovun as a cross between Glastonbury (a festival in Britain) and the Sundance Film Festival.

“A richly deserved honor for this gifted filmmaker,” Steven Ross, director of the School of Dance, Film, and Theater, said of the distinction. “It is doubly exciting as it comes just as Rajko is about to roll cameras on his new feature.”

Grlić currently is working on two feature-length films, including “The Croatian Constitution,” a political film he plans to shoot this fall. Grlić hopes to hold the United States premiere of the film in Athens.

Grlić studied at FAMU, the venerable film school in Prague, Czech Republic, where he received an MFA in directing in 1971. His mother Eva was a journalist and writer, and his father was philosopher Danko Grlić, who taught at the University of Zagreb.

Grlić’s films have been shown at film festivals across five continents, including at Cannes, in France. Grlić also was responsible for creating the award-winning CD, How to Make Your Movie: An Interactive Film School.