New Documentary: Nikola Horvat’s “Croatian Long Distance Trail”
Nikola Horvat opens his new documentary, Croatian Long Distance Trail, with the explanation “I move to get others moving.” This documentary is driven by that mission, and by the end of the 21 minutes, the viewer is left thoroughly convinced of Nikola’s ethos that “to move means to live.”
The Croatian Long Trail is 2,109 kilometers (1,310 miles) and winds along Croatia’s border. Nikola had previously hiked the PCT with his friend Matt Bisenius, and together they decided to hike through Nikola’s home country in 2019. His new documentary takes you through their time on the trail, meeting different people along the way, and exploring what it means for him to hike.
It’s a loud and exciting documentary, with upbeat music that expresses the jubilance Nikola feels when he hikes. Even as he faces obstacle after obstacle.
In fact, the obstacles are what make hiking so special for him. He makes a point to talk about hiking in the wind and rain and to include a check-in video where he worries that he may not have enough water to last him the next day. These problems somehow bolster his enthusiasm for hiking. Feeling in danger wakes him up, activates his senses, and maybe that’s what being alive is. By worrying about the basics (water, food, shelter, and safety), he taps back into what it means to be human and appreciate the world anew.
The imagery is beautiful, but it’s not the focus of the documentary.
Even with wide, aerial shots of the CLDT, the heart of the documentary is in the interviews. It’s in the moments when Nikola tries to describe what he’s feeling, what the trail means to him, but instead holds back tears and says “It’s time to go home.” As a viewer, you suddenly understand how thru-hiking can change a person. And you want it to happen to you too. You hear him talk about actualizing dreams and seeing the world through a new lens. You’re not sure what that lens is, but you want to see through it too. This documentary promises you’ll discover a new world out on trails, one that makes you feel human and alive.
Almost a year into the pandemic, this documentary awakens a longing for excitement, movement, and discovery.
Croatian Long Distance Trail captures the feelings of excitement and boredom, serenity and anxiety, despair and elation that all occur out on the trail. Though they should be polar opposites, they fit together perfectly in hiking and in this documentary. They comprise a mix of emotions that make you feel human, which, after all, is the purpose of hiking.
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