Branko Istvancic  
Film and TV director
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 The Ghost in the Swamp

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Le fantome du marais (French title)
A mocsár szelleme (Hungarian title)

Full-lenght feature film for children
2006/2007, 90 minutes, HD/35 mm

Screenwriters: Anto Gardas, Edi Muzina and Silvio Mirosnicenko
Director: Branko Istvancic
Cast: Marko Pavlov, Ena Ikica, Robert Vas, Luka Buljan, Buga Marija Simic, Ivo Gregurevic, Dejan Acimovic, Mladen Vulic, Vlatko Dulic, Radoslav Spitzmuller, Radoslava Mrksic, Nandor Szilagyi, Nada Gacesic Livakovic, Nela Kocsis, Ana Vilenica and Predrag Vusovic
Camera: Silvio Jesenkovic, h.f.s.
Music composed and orchestrated by: Dalibor Grubacevic
Editing: Goran Guberovic
Producer: Ivan Maloca

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Oneliner: This Croatian feature by Branko Istvancic shows the efforts by a community to help animals survive the winter but they are confused when a child raves that he was attacked by a ghost in the swamp and begin searching for this mysterious attacker.

Short synopsis: A brother and sister, Miron and Melita, go to visit their friend Zoltan in the north-eastern Croatian town of Kopačevo for the winter holidays. One night, they are awoken by the shouting of the villagers when a half-frozen boy is found near the village swamp, delirious after being attacked by a ghost. The doctors cannot help him, so the children decide to take matters into their own hands and the adventure begins in which they find the secret of the ghost, save their friend and become the heroes of the village. An adventure-packed children’s movie with beautiful imagery, it is the first Croatian children’s film produced after 20 years, winning the hearts of the country’s youngest viewers.

MS Word synopsis, cast and crew list UK 34 KB
MS Word Le fantome du marais F 25 KB
MS Word Kurze Zusammenfassung des Films D 28 KB
MS Word A mocsár szelleme H 27 KB

MS Word Duch z mocalu CZ 28 KB
MS Word El fantasma del pantano E 26 KB
MS Word Russisan sinopsis 29 KB

Synopsis: A brother and sister, Miron and Melita, go to visit their friend Zoltan (Liptus) in Kopacevo for winter vacation. The local residents and hunting lodge members there are involved in a big campaign to help the wild animals from the reserve to survive the winter. The same night Miron and Melita arrive, a boy named Halasz is found half-frozen at the edge of the swamp where, he raves, that he was attacked by a white ghost on one of the islands of the swamp. From then on, he can no longer talk. The old woman Etelka reveals the secret that the ghost had been first seen long ago and that you cannot go to the island because the ghost wreaks vengeance on anyone stepping onto the island. Fear takes hold in the place. The hunters, with Vucevic, Kovacevic and Levay taking the lead, begin an investigation however neither they nor the doctors can help Halasz. Therefore Miron, Liptus and Melita decide to find the ghost and offer to carry it off the island to the shore in exchange making their friend well again. However, the ghost shoots and wounds the hunter Levay proving that the ghost is much more dangerous than was previously thought. The film's story unfolds with the unique landscape of Kopacki rit as the backdrop. Over and above the snow-covered Baranja houses with stork nests adorning their chimneys, the unique spirit of the local people, the sounds of tamburitzas and dulcimers and the olds hunters - those precious guardians of nature's treasures, the children experience an unforgettable adventure. They get to know the wonder of local varieties of flora and fauna as well as the importance of protecting the environment and the animals that live in it.

Director's statement: The screenplay was written according to the book by the same title by the popular children's writer Ante Gardas, whose heroes Miron, Melita and others many have grown up with. "The Ghost in the Swamp" is part of the required reading for fourth graders in Croatia. In addition to being an exciting children's story, "The Ghost in the Swamp" educates and serves as a good example for children. Hence, it has been chosen to mark the comeback of feature-length films for children, which have not been made by the Croatian film industry for the last twenty years.

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Production Interfilm and HRT

The film was funded with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia

Official selection on Festivals:
International Childrens Festival Sibenik Croatia 2006
Pula Film Festival Croatian National Film Festival 2006
Libertas Film Festival Dubrovnik Croatia 2006
Filmfest Munchen Germany 2007
European Film Festival Palic Subotica Serbia 2007
Festival Internacional de Cine para Ninos Mexico 2007

International Film Music Festival Trogir Croatia 2007
Mediteran Film Festival Siroki Brijeg BH 2007
International Istanbul Children's Film Festival Turkey 2007
Carrousel international du film de Rimouski Canada 2007
Film Fest. for Children and Youth Cartagena, Colombia 2007
EKOFILM festival Czech Republic 2007
LEFFIS International Children´s Film Festival Finland 2007
Moveast International Film Festival Pécs Hungary 2007
Los Angeles International Children's Film Festival USA 2007
Cinekid Film Festival Amsterdam Netherlands 2007
Olympia Festival for Children & Young People Greece 2007

Days of film Revue Mostar Bosnia and Herzegovina 2007
Cairo International Film Festival for Children Egypt 2008
Banja Luka International Film Festival - BLIFF 2008 The International film festival Noah's Ark Russia 2008
Festival of Films for Children and Young Adults Iran 2008
International Film Festival "Nueva Mirada" for Children and Youth, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2008
Corinthian International Film Festival, Greece, 2008
Cyprus film festival, Greece, 2008
Sila Film Festival Italy 2009
Croatian Film Festival Australia 2009
Golden Elephant Intl. Children’s Film Festival India 2009
CMS International Children’s Film Festival India 2010
Sarajevo Film Festival 2010

Kinder Film Fest Munchen 2007
Kinderfilmfest Munchen program pdf (download 1,13 MB)


Kurze Zusammenfassung des Films:

Die Geschwister Miron und Melita wollen einige ruhige Tage in den Winterferien bei ihrem Freund Liptus auf dem Land verbringen. Aber aus der Ruhe wird wohl nichts werden - ein weißer Geist hält das Dorf in Unruhe. Oder hat der Geist etwas mit dem Wilderer zu tun, der die Rehe fängt? Die Wildtiere sollen eigentlich beschützt und von den Forstleuten gefüttert werden, damit sie durch den Winter kommen. Die drei Freunde helfen, wo sie nur können und versuchen, den merkwürdigen Geschehnissen, die sich im Dorf abspielen, auf den Grund zu gehen. Der Film spielt in der wilden Natur des kroatischen Naturparks und vermittelt viel von den Ursprüngen der unberührten Landschaft und deren Tierwelt. Die Kinder wissen, dass man sie bewahren muss, auch wenn es dafür einige Abenteuer zu bestehen gilt. Der "Geist aus dem Sumpf" ist seit zwanzig Jahren der erste Kinderfilm, der in Kroatien gedreht wurde.

The Ghost in the Swamp participating at the film festival in Mexico

The Croatian children's film The Ghost in the Swamp directed by Branko Istvancic has been listed in the official programme of children's feature movies at the International film Festival to be held in Mexico City from 7th to 12th August 2007. Before that, the film will be presented on 27th and 28th June in the official programme of the 25th Filmfest Muenchen, the second most important festival in German after Berlinale.
The Ghost in the Swamp will be presented as part of the Kinder Film Festival.
(D.Hu.,, 18.6.2007.)



Duh u mocvari / The Ghost in the Swamp trailer

Duh u mocvari making of from Branko Istvancic on Vimeo.  


The most encouraging is a fact that among the best box-office results were several domestic hit films. Domestic films participate with approximately 10% in annual cinema box-office. What is a Man without a Moustache (Sto je muskarac bez brkova), a romantic comedy by Hrvoje Hribar, with 150 thousand visitors is placed second on the annual box-office report, following Borat, the global phenomenon by Sacha Baron Cohen. Among top ten there is one more domestic film - The Ghost in the Swamp (Duh u mocvari), by Branko Istvancic, with 60 thousand visitors - the first children's film made after many years which gives us even more hope that the national cinematographic expression is expending in the right direction. (Veljko Krulcic)

In this decade the most successful theater season in Croatia were 2004 with 2.98 and 2006 with 2,67 million tickets. Year 2006 is interesting because it was the year in which the audience influenced hits from non Hollywood area, as well as three national films: mostly What is a Man without a Moustache (Sto je muskarac bez brkova) by Hrvoje Hribar with 150 thousand visitors, The Ghost in The Swamp (Duh u mocvari) by Branko Istvancic with 60 thousand visitors and Border Post (Karaula) by Rajko Grlicwith 40 thousand visitors
Jutarnji list, Jurica Pavicic, 29-12-2008

TRAILER for download (low quality) wmv 4,0 MB

Shooting crew (download hi-res):

Official web site of The Ghost in the Swamp:

The top 10 Croatian Web pages
Surprizingly, Interfilm, director Branko Ištvančić and HRT have proved to be well acquainted with new multimedial possibilities of web promotion. In selecting the best Croatian web promotion sites, the jury's intent was to concentrate on an Internet campaign as a whole, which means to take into consideration the size and the position of the banner, as well as its creative quality, and the quality of the landing page or microsite. As a proof of good results of the campaign, we took the number of visits and comments sent. Igor Poznic, jury president

Croatian presentation on the Cannes Film Festival

Croatian Cinema in Cannes (pdf dokument, 13 MB)

For the second time Croatia has a pavilion and stand at the Cannes Film Festival. Visitors can be introduced to Croatian cinematography through press materials, publications, DVD media with Croatian films and other materials from the audio-visual field. During the Film Festival in Cannes several films will be shown there; four long feature films: The Ghost in the Swamp by Branko Istvancic; True Miracle by Lucas Nola; Armin directed by Ognjen Svilicic and Tressette by Drazen Zarkovic and Pavo Marinkovic. The stand is organized by the Ministry of Culture of Republic Croatia and will continue with its presentations at future Cannes festivals. The Cannes Film Festival will take place between 16th and 26th May.

For more info, please visit:

ECFA - European Children's Film Association - Association Européenne du Cinéma pour l'Enfance et la Jeunesse

ECFA is the organisation for all, who are interested in high quality films for children and young people: film makers, producers, promotors, distributors, exhibitors, TV-programmers, festival organizers and film educators.