Outstanding women in Croatian present – art and culture


When I was faced with this topic, I knew picking the incredible women was not going to be easy. So, the women presented in this article are only a few chosen from today’s rich Croatian art female tapestry.

Each of these women has an incredible life story behind them. If you scratch into their stories in more depth, you can learn a lot from their experience and the mistakes they made.

They have different personalities, original and strong, and sincerity uniting them. And an artist wouldn’t be able to create without sincerity, vulnerability, and tenderness.

If you want to learn about notable women from Croatian history, jump over to this and this post.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Outstanding present women of Croatian art and culture

Ana Rucner, cellist

Ana Rucner (1983) is one of Croatia’s most innovative classical musicians and the first Croatian female musician to play the electric cello. Ana completed cello studies in Zagreb, where she worked with famous musicians, including Menahem Meir, Gustav Neiva Tavares, and Silvija Sondeckiene. Her parents are professional musicians, and their support positively affected her musical education and career.

With her musical performances, Ana represents Croatia all around the globe. In her pieces, she uniquely combines the elements of classical, modern, and ethno music. She participated in many musical competitions and won 30 domestic and international recognitions. In addition, she collaborated with numerous relevant musicians, including Jose Carreras, Peterom Soaveom, and Wu Muye.

In 2011, Ana got the idea to organize a special festival in Dubrovnik called Ana u Gradu (Ana in the City), which became a part of Dubrovnik’s tradition. Every year on June 21 (summer solstice) at 5:00, Ana organizes a concert at the Srđ hill above Dubrovnik in honor of the first summer sunrises. World Music Day is annually celebrated on this day. This is a must-see experience for anyone who visits Dubrovnik.

Web site | Facebook | Instagram

Dana Budisavljević, movie director

Dana Budisavljević (1975) is a movie director who graduated from the Department of Film and TV Editing at the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. She has been fighting for justice and equality since her childhood. In her work, she warns of the polarization and division of society and emphasizes the importance of faith in people and individuals.

In 2019, Dana’s third film Dnevnik Diane Budisavljević (Diary of Diana Budisavljević) premiered and won the best movie at the Pula film festival and received many other awards. Diana Budisavljević was a humanitarian from Zagreb who saved 10.000 Orthodox Christian children from ustaša campsites in Nazi-occupied Croatia. Dana worked on this movie for almost 10 years before it was finally released. Although they share the same surname, Dana and Diana are not related.

Fun fact: Dana is related to Nikola Tesla on her father’s side.

[Read: Nikola Tesla: 7 little known facts from his life in Croatia]

Danka Derifaj, investigative journalist

Danka Derifaj (1976) is a respected investigative journalist with a journalism diploma from the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science. Danka currently works for NovaTV’s investigative show called Provjereno (Verified), and before, she worked for RTL’s investigative magazine Potraga (Search). She often calls out the individuals and groups responsible for omissions in the social structure and the system. Her work is the best example of investigative journalism in Croatia.

Danka received many prestigious awards, including the ones for the best television report in environmental protection, Marija Jurić Zagorka for TV journalism, Vesna Kvesić for brave and critical journalism, Krunoslav Sukić for promoting peacemaking, nonviolence, and human rights, and Dutch journalist Oscar – De Tegel.

[Read: Marija Jurić Zagorka, a pioneer Croatian female jounalist]

Ivana Bodrožić, writer and poet

Due to the war, Ivana Bodrožić (1982) left Vukovar in 1991, finished elementary school in Kumrovec, and got her degrees in Croatian language and Philosophy at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. During her education, she often borrowed and sometimes stole books. Her first novel, Hotel Zagorje, talks about her seven years of exile. It was later turned into a theater show and won the Croatian Theater Award for best play in 2020.

Ivana holds creative writing workshops and teaches at the European Center for the Study of War and Peace in Zagreb. Her books are translated into 12 languages and have been published in many literary magazines in Europe and the US. She received an international award Meša Selimović and Kiklop for the best novel.

Web site | Instagram

Mare Milin, photographer

Mare Milin (1973) is a talented photographer with over 25 years of experience. Mare studied Design at the Faculty of Architecture in Zagreb. Behind her amazing portfolio are fashion and theater photos, editorials, and music videos. Since her professional work involves a lot of collaboration with people, she rests her eyes on taking portraits of nature. In her spare time, she illustrates.

Mare is one of those artists whose work you either like or hate – and this is proof of her refined taste. Her artistic style deviates from the usual, and it can be described as natural and leisurely but also theatrical and unexpected. Average work does not satisfy her, and she readily takes risks and dares to be different. Mare once said her biggest wish was that people want to hang artistic photos on their walls.


Mirela Priselac Remi, singer and poet

Mirela Priselac – Remi (1979) is a hip-hop artist and one of the first female rappers in Croatia. She is the frontman and singer of one of the most popular Croatian bands called Elemental, which was formed in 1998. Regardless of their long career, their concerts are still energetic and performed with the same passion. Remi is known for her uncompromising criticism of the system and activism, which are often topics of Elemental songs.

Since she is a prominent public figure, Remi responsibly uses the opportunity to criticize societal injustices whenever she can. In addition, Remi plays guitar and writes poetry. In 2020, she issued her first collection of songs called Masarykova (a street in Zagreb’s center), which you can buy here. Her writing style radiates emancipation, vulnerability, melancholy, existential restlessness, and intimacy, but by no means banality.

Web site | Facebook | Instagram

Slavenka Drakulić, journalist and novelist

Slavenka Drakulić (1949) is a notable Croatian writer and journalist with a degree in comparative literature and sociology. Since the beginning of the 80s, she has been writing about various taboo topics. In her work, she reflects on the political and ideological situation in post-communist countries, war crimes, nationalism, domestic violence, feminist issues, the female body, illness, and trauma.

Slavenka’s first book called Smrtni grijesi feminizma (Deadly sins of feminism) was the first collection of essays on feminism in ex-Yugoslavia and eastern Europe. In the early 90s, after she was accused of “insufficient patriotism” in one Croatian magazine, a series of media lynchings followed, and she emigrated to Sweden. She filed a lawsuit against the magazine, won in 2004, and was paid compensation.

Today, Slavenka publishes articles, columns, and political comments in Croatian and foreign newspapers and magazines. Slavenka writes in English and Croatian and her books are translated into more than 20 languages. This makes her one of the most translated Croatian writers. She received many significant international awards for her work and lives in Croatia and Sweden.

Web site | Facebook

Zdenka Kovačićek, jazz and rock singer

Zdenka Kovačićek (1944) is one of the first singers of jazz, rock, blues, and soul music in Croatia. Her timeless charisma, unique vocals, energetic performances, and mighty improvisations make her special.

During her 60-year avant-garde career, Zdenka has performed in jazz clubs worldwide. She experimented with various music genres but always remained herself – curious and subtle but exciting and stable. Zdenka did not have support from her parents, who wanted her to go the traditional way and graduate college, get married, and have children. But she was rebellious and stayed true to her first love – music. She even had a contract with the owner of a club who later created Boney M. He wanted her to be the European Aretha Franklin. They made a few recordings, but the idea wasn’t realized all the way.

Zdenka has always been strong, unstoppable, and inspirational. She is often called the first lady of Croatian jazz. Her second love is theater, where she stands out in musicals. So far, she has released 17 music albums.

Web site | Facebook | Instagram

Zrinka Cvitešić, actress

Zrinka Cvitešić (1979) is a Croatian theater, TV, and movie actress with an enviable international acting career. Zrinka graduated from the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb. She acted in the Komedija theater, Teatar ITD, and HNK Zagreb, where she claimed the title of drama champion from her colleagues and the public.

[Read: Croatian National Theater: HNK Zagreb (including 2023 program)]

She received the award for the best actress in a movie Što je muškarac bez brkova? (What is a man without a mustache?) at the Sarajevo film festival. In 2013, her role in the musical Once made her famous on the London acting scene. In 2015, she got a role in Woody Harrelson’s movie called Lost in London, together with Owen Wilson and Willie Nelson.

She is one of the main characters in a brand new series called The Power, where she plays a former gymnast and first lady of Moldova who kills her husband, seizes power, and turns the country into a matriarchal empire. It is interesting this series has exclusively female directors and screenwriters.


View our other Croatian women’s posts

Ana Rucner
Redateljica Dana Budisavljević by Petra Rajković
Cijenjena istraživačka novinarka Danka Derifaj by Telegram
Ivana Bodrožić
Mare Milin by Ivona Siničković
Mare Milin predstavlja seriju nokturna
Slavenka Drakulić
Slavenka Drakulić by Zrinka Vrabec Mojzeš
Zdenka Kovačićek
Zrinka Cvitešić by biografija.hr

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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