Arsen A. Ostojic


29 Jul 1965


Split, Croatia


Arsen was born in the beautiful city of Split, on the Croatian coast, in 1965. He decided to become a film director at the early age of twelve after joining a cinema group in his grammar school. He started to make silent, short genre films in black and white on Normal 8 stock, which he and his classmates invented the stories for, shot and acted, and also mixed the chemicals and developed the footage for. When he was fourteen, his Super 8 short film 'The Stone Mason' featuring his grandfather working in a stone mine on the island of Brac, was aired on prime-time TV as the best short by a teenager.

During high school he was a member of the Kino-club Split and made mostly experimental films. From 1985 to 1990 he studied film directing at the Film and TV Directing department of the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Croatia, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree with top honors. Some of his student short films received awards at professional film festivals. During his studies he also started working as an assistant director to well-known Croatian directors. He was fortunate to have his first job on the award-winning film 'That Summer of White Roses' by Rajko Grlic with Tom Conti and Rod Steiger in leading roles.

From 1991 to 1994 he studied film directing and producing at the famous Graduate Film Department of the New York University, where he received his Master of Fine Arts degree, again with top honors, for his "superior academic record and exceptional creative ability". His teachers included Arthur Penn and Lorenzo Semple Jr. He made several award-winning short films in New York and worked on numerous low budget films as an assistant director and production manager, to pay his rent and gain more experience.

He kept writing screenplays, but found it hard to raise money to shoot them. In 2001 Arsen was developing a low-budget psychological thriller to be shot near Atlanta, Georgia when the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City brought all preparations to a halt. Several months afterwards he left NYC and moved to Europe, where he taught filmmaking at the Polytechnic University in Salzburg, Austria for 2 years.

Back in Croatia he wrote and directed a successful full-length feature film 'A Wonderful Night in Split' starring Coolio. Arsen was thrilled to have been able to make his first feature film about his hometown, which provided additional inspiration for him. The film garnered 24 awards and is often cited by critics as the best Croatian film since the country gained its independence. The film was nominated for the European Film Academy Discovery-Fassbinder Award as best first or second film in Europe in 2004. It was also an official submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar® at the 2006 Academy Awards, proving to be a serious contender.

In 2006 he co-wrote and directed the stage play 'Billie Holliday' for the Croatian National Theater in Split, about an hour and a half in the life of the famous blues singer, right before she made her come-back performance at Carnegie Hall.

In 2008 he completed his second feature film 'No One's Son' which was the absolute winner of the Croatian National Film Festival in Pula, winning, amongst others, the awards for, Best Film and Best Director, as well as the Critics' Award. The film was selected as one of the best European films of 2009 and earned Arsen a 2nd official Oscar® submission in 2009, as well as a total of 16 awards and accolades.

He was president of the Croatian Film Directors' Guild for 2 years between 2008 and 2010.

In 2012 he directed and produced his third feature film 'Halima's Path' which still holds the record-high audience vote from the Croatian National Film Festival in Pula . The film earned 31 awards worldwide, becoming the most awarded Croatian film in several decades and again the Croatian official submission at the 2013 Academy Awards.

Influential website Deadline Hollywood included 'Halima's Path' on a list of 15 films in the running for the Foreign Language Oscar® which had the biggest buzz about them and were considered favorites at the 86th Annual Academy Awards, amongst a record-number of 76 entries.

Arsen is currently directing his fourth feature film 'The Man in the Box' (Spring 2015) which is his first one in English.

He is a member of the European Film Academy. He is also an associate professor of film production at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb, Croatia.

Actor ( 3 credits )

Vecer na 8. katu (2013)  Himself (1 episode, 2014)
Doppelsterne (2003) Messenger
Fatal Sky (1990) Lab Guard

Producer ( 4 credits )

Halima's Path (2012) producer
A Wonderful Night in Split (2004) associate producer
Life Drawing (2002) producer
ShortCuts (1998) producer (1 episode, 2000)

Writer ( 1 credit )

The Bird Lover (1993) (writer)

Director ( 8 credits )

Halima's Path (2012)
No One's Son (2008)
A Wonderful Night in Split (2004) (as Arsen Anton Ostojic)
Life Drawing (2002)
The Bird Lover (1993)
Decoration (1991)
The Man in the Box (0)
Verdigris (0)