Bruna Bajić is the first female to get a master’s degree in film studies, media art and animation at the Arts Academy of the University of Split. She has directed two films and written a book for children entitled "Modri horizonti i njihovi čuvari". Here you can read what advice Bruna has to offer to parents and children, what she thinks about the development and promotion of children’s creativity and imagination, and what kind of mark Jantar has left on her life...
Since you have both written a book and directed two movies – what did you perceive as more demanding and what were the challenges you encountered in the process of creating these works of art?
Throughout my personal growth and development, I’ve always had this weird habit – before getting into a duet with my dreams – to have this kind of thoughts:
- I can’t do it
- I don’t know how
And then again, there was also this eternal curiosity and desire to create, which would throw me over the edge of doubt into a cloud of creation, and I’ve been unstoppable ever since. However, that first reaction and doubt about “where to go next” is still present in me. Creative jobs like writing, directing and developing projects, depend on a strong vision which is always the first step, followed by great persistence and strong nerves, and finally, by a lot of patience. Going retrograde (analyzing the process from the position of a viewer, reader, critic when everything is over) or confronting the emptiness that wishes to exist (creative process from the very beginning) is not the same thing nor starting point. What is demanding, and what also presents a great challenge, is the fact that in Croatia you have to be capable of managing a lot of different parts of your project simultaneously. On the other hand, upon looking back, I would never change a thing, despite all the challenges. Creating over 20 short and medium-length films has paved the way for two successful documentaries that I love, two books, crowded cinemas. The only thing I’m afraid of is the fact that now I have to conquer new horizons. However, I know from my own example that this will only be a prelude into reaching new heights and levels of personal development.
What is the greatest advice you would give to parents who are sailors?
What makes me competent to speak is my position of a child who grew up in a marine family and knows all the possible traps in which that kind of family can get entangled with their departures. What I deem paramount, and which is also the most difficult part to achieve, is to be a better version of yourself every day. To improve, to grow and to constantly develop, because parents can easily see a reflection of themselves in their children and viceversa. I believe it is very important to teach the children up to seven years old all about safety and love, to show them that they are loved, protected and not responsible for anything that is going on in the world of adults. Because of the fact that they worry too much, adults sometimes forget that children, no matter how bright they are, are still and always only children. ‘Only’ in the sense that we have to let them be children, and they are amazing in a sense that there is profound joy, richness and creativity that they hide underneath, which should be taken in and admired in its purest form, outside of social boundaries which – with time – often replace all that ingenuity. I generally believe that it’s important to equally clean, if not even more, the mind and the spirit, as we do with our apartments and garages, because when you stop hearing yourself, everything around you turns into noise. So as a child that grew up in a marine family, I would like to point out the essence of this whole idea: let your children be children, that is the only way in which they will be able to grow up.
Do you think that we pay too little attention to childhood traumas?
Absolutely. I’m a big fan of pychology, of analyzing everything that is going on when you forget all about getting to know yourself, and when you agree to see yourself through other people’s eyes and expectations. If we counted all the “victims” of their own powerlessness, I believe we would be surprised with numbers and outcomes. Reading, walking, writing, running, relaxing, whatever your pleasure might be, you can do it, but the mind requires the same level of care as the body. The bigger the search, the less happier you are, because you detach yourself from everything you see around you, not knowing that everything is already inside you. Childhood traumas, no matter how big or small, can hold the door for your entire perception of life and living. Anyone who even for a second thinks that it isn’t that important, gets stuck in a narrow passage.
To what extent can our imagination help us to deal with difficult situations?
Imagination makes it possible to see what isn’t there, to have something when nothing is there. It is our friend and creator, the power we touch when it becomes impossible to prove to others that something that isn’t there actually exists.
Imagination is a toy in an empty hand and full mind, which knows it exists even without a name, and the mind is the playground for imagination – it knows that the mind is just a shadow without it.
Last night I was lying in bed next to my niece. Steep roof. 22 p.m. Dappled light on the ceiling:
"Bruna, there’s sea and sand on the ceiling, right?’"
-Yes, and fish too.- I say.
She put her hand over her face: "Look, the sand is tickling me "- she put her finger in her mouth and fell asleep.
"The power we touch when it becomes impossible to prove to others that something that isn’t there actually exists."
Everything that is was once just the seed.
Everything that isn’t is just the seed that wasn’t fertilized by imagination, will and passion.
Do children lose imagination in this period when they are obsessed with technology?
It is hard to predict which direction we are heading with this humanization or dehumanization of feelings and of children’s emotional development. We are so often unaware of our emotions that they become a hindrance in our life, so, in a way, I do understand why technology is attracted to dehumanization. It is seen as a potential exit from a vicious circle of mistakes which arise from unprocessed emotions. Each generation is a bit afraid of the one that follows, and every new generation is a bit terrified, justifiably, of the mistakes of those who paved the way for them. What I know is that it will be harder and harder to find a human being among people. I believe it is important to understand that technology, and the media, can easily reach their turning point, because their influence, what they give space and power to, is very arbitrary, so I think that with time this powerful tool will provide space for creation and not destruction.
Do parents lose connection with their kids and are they working on their communication with them?
I am still not a parent, so it is hard to talk so generally about such delicate topics like parenting. However, I deeply admire every human being, every parent, who opens the horizons for their child widely enough to help them avoid losing oneself in quest for the meaning of life. It’s a challenging task and I believe it starts, first and foremost, with working on yourself. Nonstop and without compromise. By avoiding formulas we create our own equation. It’s not easy to find a happy person, which clearly shows that there is immense space and vastness open for search. It’s not easy to communicate. That doesn’t include only speech, but also feeling, energy, trust. How ready you are to talk about yourself, and how capable you are of listening to others. There is a little bit of art in that, and when it comes to parents who dance on a thin wire… I believe that is worthy of praise.
You wrote a book for children – what do you think: when do children stop reading and why?
I think that children mostly look up to their parents’ habits. The same goes for reading. Someone who loves reading has probably grown up in an environment that was “tolerant” and conscious of that kind of friendship, because a book is a true friend. A friend that knows exactly how much it has to understand us and take us one step further. Sometimes I would keep books in closets for years and not touch them because they seemed boring. Few years later I would catch up with them in experience, recognize them and become one with them. That is the thing with books. They change faces and letters on pages in accordance with our perception. I definitely believe that a parent who introduces their child to books will never see their child alone or lonely. Books can show the path to consciousness one has never dreamed of, and after some experiences like this, one can never be the same. Reading is when the magic of the mind squirms in between the letters and sees the vastness on dusty narrow pages. And if children stop reading… I believe that those who start never stop.
What role do teachers have in developing and encouraging creativity?
I believe that education will have to recreate itself and start taking these little geniuses more seriously. There are wonderful teachers, but I think that their hands are still tied. I believe in good, because I know that faith has the power to create and critique has the power to destroy. I think that marvelous things can happen if a fair number of people starts believing and working towards the goal. It is absolutely true that school is the first encounter children have with the world and its rules, which is why one has to be gentle and careful. One perceptive reality is getting silenced and the brain enters a different vibration which is very flexible. I believe that education is actually a mystery that still has to be rediscovered and synchronized with the world that is coming.
You father spent the majority of your life travelling to different parts of the world. How important is it to study foreign languages in today’s world?
My dad would always come from far away journeys full of stories about other cultures, words he had heard or learned, he would tell us about food that other people eat and like, about customs and manners. It is said that you can never truly know someone until you know their language. My book is translated in English and Spanish and now I am reading that book as if it were about somebody in the third person because it is so far away from the language in which it was created. Language is emotion, vibration, cultural heritage and a well known enigma, no matter how illogical that might sound. Knowing English nowadays is indispensable for any kind of job, not to even mention any kind of serious work. Everything that a human being acquires, learns and becomes master of, is a kind of wealth that cannot we measured.
In what way did Jantar help you in your path and what are your memories of it?
Jantar. <3 Jantar is my first love when I think about language schools. Professor Sobin taught me how to be confident. I learned to value my talent and not diminish my potential. It is no wonder that this school has raised so many generations, there is simply something about it. Jantar is a school that isn’t only a school, but it has something gently reformed. It is a place where children’s interests are taken into account, and their skills and potential are brushed up. What is especially important to emphasize is the professor Sobin’s passion to encourage people to create.
Once I wanted to buy a ticket for her at my film promotion and do you know what she said? "i buy tickets for my son’s plays too. Someone who creates is worthy of acknolewdgement." Do I even need to mention that I never managed to persuade her, and she was in the first line at every film promotion and projection?
That is what it means to be a teacher. People who you can learn and grow with. That is what Jantar is. <3