Croatia's 'Schindler's List' producer dies aged 87

Zagreb (AFP) –


Croatian film producer and Holocaust survivor Branko Lustig, who won Oscars for "Schindler's List" and "Gladiator", died Thursday 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.