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El Shatt – A Blueprint for Utopia



A fascinating, rarely known, and deeply humane story from Croatia’s past. This important documentary remarkably combines archival material and living witnesses from the former Yugoslav refugee camp in the middle of the Egyptian desert. A new documentary from one of the programmers at International Film Festival Rotterdam.

Frozen and starved people on boats in the Mediterranean Sea fleeing from war. Familiar scenes that we are used to seeing in the news. But the year is 1944, and the refugees are travelling from Europe to Africa. After the Italian capitulation, and before the arrival of German army, 28,000 Dalmatian Croats left their homes to live for two years in tents in the Egyptian desert. A kind of communist model village, the camp was set up to show the Allies how Tito’s new Yugoslavia will look when the war ends. This is a story about them. The film is dedicated to Karlo Pansini, the director’s grandfather, who was one of the three doctors in El Shatt, a settlement near the Suez Canal.

SHOWTIMES | Special Guest: director Ivan Ramljak

Saturday, 25 November – 12:30

EL SHATT – NACRT ZA UTOPIJU | 2023 | 96 min | Croatia, Serbia

PRODUCTIONTibor Keser – Kompot; Kino Klub Split, Horopter
EDITINGJelena Maksimovic
SOUNDVladimir Zivkovic
LANGUAGECroatian, Arabic


Mediterranean Film Festival Split 2023 ― Special Jury Mention, Audience Award | Liburnia Film Festival, 2023 – Audience Award, Best Cinematographer, Best Editing | Pula Film Festival 2023 | DOK Leipzig, 2023 – International Documentary Competition


Ivan Ramljak (1974) is a film director and independent curator. In 2003 he founded the Human Rights Film Festival in Zagreb. From 2013 to 2022 he was the editor of Short Tuesday, a short film program at Tuškanac Cinema in Zagreb. Since 2016, he has been the artistic director of the Tabor Film Festival, the oldest festival of short films in Croatia, and since 2022 he has been working as a programmer for the International Film Festival in Rotterdam. His films have been screened at more than 80 international festivals around the world (Cinéma du réel, DOK Leipzig, Sarajevo Film Festival, Dokufest, goEast…) and won several awards.