Croatia’s ‘Schindler’s List’ producer dies aged 87

Croatian Auschwitz survivor, Branko Lustig stands next to a poster of the film ‘Schindler’s List’. — AFP pic
Croatian Auschwitz survivor, Branko Lustig stands next to a poster of the film ‘Schindler’s List’. — AFP pic

ZAGREB, Nov 15 — Croatian film producer and Holocaust survivor Branko Lustig, who won Oscars for Schindler’s List and Gladiator, died yesterday in Zagreb aged 87, state-run HINA news agency reported.

Lustig was born into a Croatian Jewish family in the eastern town of Osijek in June 1932.

He was held as a child in the notorious Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen death camps with the number A3317 tattooed on his arm, and most members of his family died in Nazi camps throughout Europe.

“It is a long way from Auschwitz to this stage,” he said as he accepted an Oscar as producer for Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List in 1993.

“The dying ones left me the legacy to tell — if I survive — how it was.”

Lusting studied at a Zagreb acting academy in the 1950s before finding work in the movies, first as an organiser and later as a director and producer.

He directed and produced more than 100 local and foreign movies as well as co-productions including Oscar-winning The Tin Drum in 1979 and Sophie’s Choice in 1982.

In the 1980s, Lustig moved to the United States, where he won an Emmy award for the TV mini-series Drug Wars: The Camarena Story in 1990.

Apart from Schindler’s List, he also won an Oscar with fellow producers David Franzoni and Douglas Wick for Ridley Scott’s Gladiator in 2000.

Lustig returned to Croatia a decade ago, assuming the presidency of the annual Jewish Film Festival in Zagreb in 2008.

In May he was named an honorary citizen of the Croatian capital for his “great contribution to the culture of a democratic society, to movie art and to understanding between different” peoples. — AFP

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