Zlatko Bourek, academic sculptor, director, and author of animated and fiction films, died on Friday, at 89.
Born 4 September 1929, in Slavonska Požega, Zlatko Bourek graduated in sculpture and painting from the Academy of Applied Arts in Zagreb, in the class of Kosta Angeli Radovani. He began his career in animation as a background artist and production designer on films by DušanVukotić and Vatroslav Mimica: Cowboy Jimmy, Happy End, The Inspector Returned Home, At the
Photographer’s, as well as Professor Balthazar series.
As one of the most esteemed representatives of the Zagreb School of Animation, he wrote his own screenplays since 1960. His films remain forever solidified in the annals of Croatian and global animation history: The Blacksmith's Apprentice, Far Away I Saw Mist and Mud – adaptation of The Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh by Miroslav Krleža, Dancing Songs, Captain Arbanas Marko, The Cat, Schooling, Dinner, puppet-film The Married Life of Little Red Riding Hood (Farce), and others. His works Dancing Songs (1966) and The Cat (1971) are widely regarded as masterpieces.
Bourek remained professionally active throughout his life; in 2014, he collaborated with Pavao Štalter on the acclaimed, award-winning film Wiener Blut, which drew its visual inspiration from the art of Georg Grosz and Otto Dix. He also wrote and directed three fiction films: Cirkus Rex, Crvenkapica, and Mr. Ventriloquist.
Although expressionism served as Bourek's primary source of inspiration, his work was also influenced by other art movements and styles, like surrealism and pop art. His themes mostly revolved around folklore, literature, grotesque, and naturalism.
In 2010, he became a full member of the Department of Fine Arts at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He received a great number of recognitions in Croatia and abroad: annual Vladimir Nazor Award, Vladimir Nazor Award for Lifetime Achievement, City of Zagreb Award, Premium of the 4th Zagreb Exhibition of Yugoslav Drawings, 8th Marulić Days Award; he was also awarded in Oberhausen, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Salerno.
In 2015, Animafest featured a retrospective programme dedicated to Zlatko Bourek, while his film Wiener Blut screened that same year. Bourek’s numerous works screened at Animafest since its beginnings in the 1970s, resulting in a strong and enduring relationship.