Tag Archive for: Europe

DEGANZ member Mandalina Stanisich’s 2018 short film Bass Line is set to screen at the Silver Screen – European Film Festival for Generations (EFFG). During the festival, screenings take place in about 100 venues across Germany to more than 13,000 viewers.

The Heidelberg University and Institute of Gerontology in Germany established EFFG in 2010. The festival features films, both drama and doco, that study themes of demographic change and ageing. It aims to promote images of positive, healthy, and active ageing and intergenerational dialogue.

Bass Line follows elderly couple Johnny and Kuini as they grapple with debilitating health issues in an increasingly unempathetic environment. While Johnny suffers from PTSD as a war veteran, Kuini’s recent diagnosis of dementia strains their relationship. Yet, despite these challenges, the this short film is a story of resilience, courage, and true love.

Mandalina’s film has made rounds in international festivals and exhibitions such as the Veterans Film Festival and NEW Gallery in 2020. It also received an honourable mention at the Be Epic London International Film Festival this year. Our congratulations to Mandalina.


I joined a children’s choir just after my 3rd birthday. That was in Yugoslavia, Zagreb, in 1983. Choir defined me as a person. I’ve learned early on we are all individuals with different needs, wants and perception, so listening is often more important than talking. We’d rehearse twice a week and occasionally perform on Sunday morning Kid’s show on Channel 1 broadcasted live from the studio at Zagreb TV. The studio lights were insanely bright and enchanting. Built sets, colourful gels, bubble machines, giant cameras on wheels, heaps of grown ups, discipline, and us kids were all needed to create those few minutes of a TV programme. The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I knew I wanted to be an entertainer, and I saw the beauty in the collective, not in soloing.

By mid teens, I was in a few TVCs, had a supporting role in a feature film, acted in couple of theatre plays, but started feeling uncomfortable being recognised on the streets. Rather than escaping that world, I removed myself from the spotlight, and joined the crew “behind the scenes”. I spent my 20s mostly in theatre, making music and sound design, experimenting with 3D mapping and projections, filming and editing my friends’ gigs and creating short videos for VJing. I was lucky to own a firewire HDV camera, Final Cut Express and a laptop powerful enough to deal with the footage. VJing was a passion giving me a chance to perform my own artwork without too much exposure. I was VJing for 3 bands I liked, and realised that clip making part of the process was my favourite. I wanted to edit more. I approached the team that was producing a weekly music show about demo bands, and I got the gig. It felt like playing music and Lego at the same time, but it was an unpaid job and if I wanted to edit more, I would need to find paid work before I quit the day job.

Editor Luka Turjak in his many elements / Photos: Supplied

Same year I was introduced to Željko Senečić who needed an editor to re-cut a film about Yugoslav sculptor Dušan Džamonja. It was edited in Final Cut 6 so it was a rather easy task once I found a common tongue with a director who was larger than life and 47 years older than me. Senečić had degrees in Painting from the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts and Scenography from the Zagreb Academy of Drama Arts and he was a production designer, film director, screenwriter, playwright and way more. I on the other hand was a choir singer, had some college in Mathematics and earned money at a telephone company.

Luckily we understood each other, became good friends and in the next 6 years we made another 8 documentaries, mostly about painters and one TV drama. He supported my idea of quitting my job and turning freelance editor and theatre video/sound designer. Not the wisest thing to do during the Great Recession, but it worked out fine. It made me a happier person. I was editing art exhibition pieces for various artists and took occasional TV jobs and had time for theatre, choirs and my bands.

Editor Luka Turjak in his editing suite / Photo: Supplied

Coming as a tourist to New Zealand in 2014 was a big change. I’ve met a woman here and we wanted to explore what would living together be like. I stayed taking my chances of starting fresh. No friends, no choirs, no theatre group to belong to. I’ve taken “the long way home” approach. I didn’t know anyone in the industry yet, so I figured I’d crew for a while. Because for me, it is the people, it is the people, it is the people…

I took on everything I felt comfortable with – running, locations and unit assisting, agency/client/talent driving, ADing, DITing… I met a bunch of extraordinary people on sets, in rental and production companies who gave me greater insight into Aotearoa. When I felt the time was right, I put my hand up as an edit assist. And without forcing it I have slowly settled back into the editing chair.

Of course, I still do theatre, sing and perform, occasionally even in the editing suite.


About Luka Turjak

Luka is an experienced editor and assistant editor originally from Yugoslavia, and now based in Auckland. In the last few years, he has edited feature films In Passing and Spring Interlude, as well as documentaries, short films and music videos.


How I Got Started in the Industry is a guest blog series from the Directors and Editors Guild of Aotearoa New Zealand (DEGANZ). Our members reflect on how they made their way into assistant editing, editing, and directing—with no two stories the same. They offer advice for those starting out.

DEGANZ presents an LGBTQ+ Film Festival Directors Q&A

On June 7, join us for a panel livestream with film festival directors James Wooley (Frameline San Francisco), Andrea Coloma (MIX COPENHAGEN) and Spiro Economopoulos (Melbourne Queer Film Festival).

Being some of the oldest Queer film festivals in the world, each have their own rich histories and stories of how they came to be. In this panel, moderated by filmmaker Kayne Ngātokowha Peters (John the Baptist), our international guests will discuss how their festivals began; the social, political and creative landscape of gay cinema; and how New Zealand filmmakers can submit their films and join their global communities.

Towards the end, we will welcome questions from our online audience.

WHEN: Tue 7 June 2022, 7pm – 8:30pm NZST
WHERE: DEGANZ YouTube Channel

Free live streamed event

RSVP/Follow the event on Facebook


James Wooley (he/him/his) is the Executive Director of Frameline San Francisco, which was founded in 1977 and is the longest-running, largest and most widely recognised LGBTQ+ film exhibition event in the world. Originally from Australia, James has over 10 years’ experience working on over 20 large-scale film festivals, including Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane International Film Festivals.

Andrea Coloma (she/her) is the festival director and programmer for MIX COPENHAGEN, one of the oldest LGBTQ+ film festivals in the world, founded in 1986, as well as the leading LGBTQ+ film festival in the Nordics. Alongside MIX COPENHAGEN, Andrea has been involved in different projects from the development of Norrebro Pride in Copenhagen, which centres QTBIPOCs, to starring on the Danish TV web series, Pain in the Ass (Ondt i Roven) by Rikke Kolding which has been referred to as a “queer game change in Danish TV”.

Spiro Economopoulos (he/him) is the Program Director for the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, one of the largest and oldest LGBTI+ film festivals in the southern hemisphere, beginning in 1991. During his seven years in the role, Spiro has lead the curatorial vision of the festival to enlighten, entertain and celebrate, while delivering a world-class queer film festival.