Film about missing sailor shows price of adventures

Ljubljana, 10 January - A film tracing the lives of Slovenian long-distance sailor Jure Šterk, who disappeared 15 years ago during a sailing trip around the world, and his wife and son premiered in Ljubljana's Kinodvor cinema on Tuesday. The autobiographical drama lifts the veil on the toll Šterk's adventures took on his family.

Director Igor Šterk.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
File photo

The film Šterkijada is an intimate portrait of the Šterk family written and directed by the sailor's son, Igor Šterk.

The story goes beyond the myth of the great and daring voyager and depicts Jure Šterk as a man who was a famous sailor but also an unfaithful and mostly absent husband and an authoritarian father who put sailing first.

The film, which opened last year's Festival of Slovenian Film, does not shy away from those poignant glimpses into the family life, but there are also moments of comic relief.

"Sailing exploits and the tragic disappearance of my father were not the reason for this film. What drew me in were the moments in our family - sad, bitter, but at the same time comic and absurd. They reflect the complexity of the relationships in our lives," the director said in one of the interviews before the premiere.

Actor Janez Škof plays Jure Šterk, Silva Čušin stars as Vojka Šterk, the mother and wife, and Jernej Gašperin stepped into the shoes of the son, Igor Šterk.

Born in 1937, Jure Šterk was the first Slovenian to have sailed around the world single-handed on a 6.5-metre-long boat between 1991 and 1994. His sailing feats include eight crossings of the Atlantic Ocean and two crossings of the Indian Ocean. He also crossed the Pacific Ocean once.

Aiming to become the oldest man to sail around the world single-handed and non-stop in the smallest boat, he embarked on his last journey from New Zealand in December 2007.

Sailing on 9.2-metre-long boat bearing the name Lunatic, he almost did make it, but after some 25,000 nautical miles and more than 370 days alone at sea and while on his last leg back to New Zealand, he went missing.

His last radio contact was on 1 January 2009. His boat was first spotted in late January, but there was no sign of Šterk, and three months later it was found adrift in the Indian Ocean, roughly 2,000 kilometres off the western coast of Australia.

Šterk was not on board and has been since presumed dead. He made the last log entry on 2 January 2009 at the age of 71. The son later edited and published his log book under the title The Log of the Last Voyage.

The sold-out premiere was dedicated to the director's mother, who recently died.

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