Review: Donkey (Kenjac)

By on Apr 13, 2010 in Reviews

Production still from Donkey

Directed by Antonio Nuic, 2009
Starring: Emir Hadzihafizbegovic,
Tonko Lonza, Nebojsa Glogovac,
Natasa Janjic, Ljubo Kapor

One of the Croatian candidates for an Oscar award, the film Donkey, directed by Antonio Nuić, had already won a couple of awards at the Pula Film Festival when it opened the Sarajevo Film Festival.  

The film is set in a village, virtually in the middle of nowhere, in Herzegovina. It tells the story of the relationship between a father and a son. Boro, an angry man, is driving his wife, Jasna, and son, Luka, from Zagreb to his home village of Drinovci, after seven years. They are visiting Boro’s brother Pero, who although paralyzed, escaped from Sarajevo. Boro constantly fights with his wife, ignores his son and won’t speak to his father, Pasko, because he blames him for mother’s death. Lake Krenica in the village is a haunted place with many souls drowning there every year.

The film depicts the irrational and dark side of Herzegovina men. Speaking about darkness, during World War II, some Catholic Croats from Herzegovina were among the most vicious Nazi killers in the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At times very religious and nationalistic, in some other cases, such men are stubborn in a positive way. Donkey, however does not address politics of the extreme nationalism of Croats coming from Herzegovina; instead, this film talks about the extremely hard mentality of these men. In general, Nuić in his films, very poetically and successfully, depicts the mentality of people from his homeland, Bosnia or Herzegovina.

There is an historical aspect to the film. It takes place during the crucial period of the latest civil war in Bosnia, during the war operation called Storm in 1995. The Storm was an organized war operation by the Croatian Army against the Serb ethnic population, who were forced to leave their native territory, because Tudjman (the right-leaning late president of Croatia) wanted to clear that territory of Serbs. This operation was crucial because it was supposed to end the war in Croatia (and of course it didn’t). Today, it is interpreted differently by both sides of the conflict (the Serbs and the Croats from Croatia).

Donkey is the expression for a character trait of men in Herzegovina, who are stubborn and strange. The male protagonists in the film are vicious, macho and cruel, just like the land they inhabit. All male characters here are the donkey, while the actual animal donkey here is a good friend to them all. Mute, with kind, patient eyes, always listening, this animal becomes a symbol of optimism and change.

It is possible that film director Nuić wanted to depict family conflicts juxtaposed with historical events and to depict, with a certain authenticity, the Herzegovina people and their temperament.

Rating: *** (3 out of 4 stars)

Disclosure: The author received a complimentary ticket to view this movie as a member of the press.

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Radmila Djurica is a Serbian freelance journalist who has done correspondence work for the Tiker Press Agency and has had articles published in British Sunday and daily newspapers, including the Scottish newspaper, Sunday Post; in Woman Abroad magazine; and at She has served as assistant editor, reading manuscripts for the Reading Writers Service; has published articles with the SCN Television Network in California; is a freelance columnist for the British monthly magazine Code Uncut; and wrote about Serbia's International Bitef Festival of contemporary theatre for Zowie Wowie Magazine, an American e-zine.

One Comment

  1. thank you for the feedback
    this film director is pretty strange, probably in film, talking about his own experience…yet his producer is even more spooky and clever then him!!!!