We bring you the full interview with the DK festival Director Dunja Ivana Ballon, which was done by Ekrem Dupanović and published on the 10th of May in the regional business journal Media Marketing. You can read the full interview here.
In the interview with Dunja, we seek answers to the question why DK Festival is the most popular event in the regional communications industry.
There are many things in life we don’t fret about, there are some which are harder to forget and those that we remember for a long time, events we keep coming back to and look forward to them. DK Festival is a part of this small group of memorable events. I have been to every edition of the festival and have left completely thrilled every time. Every year, I think it has reached its pinnacle. Yet the next edition always proves me wrong. At this year’s DK Festival, I felt as if I had never attended the festival before, as if everything is new. This year, I really felt that it could not get any better. However, I will make no predictions as I am sure that the HURA and IAB team led by Dunja Ivana Ballon still have much to offer. I honestly do not know what other options she has left, she could rent a yacht for you to lie on the deck, sunbathe and listen to the talks… At the end of the interview, Dunja does reveal that she has already cooked up some new ideas for the coming year.
Thanks to the brilliant Barbara Tolić Aušić, we have written extensively about DK Festival, both during and after the festival. It is now time to put the icing on the cake by interviewing Dunja. We gave her enough time to catch her breath, complete the most urgent chores on her to-do list after the festival and now she is here, ready to share her impressions with us.
MM: Are you going on a holiday as soon as you wrap up the finances?
Dunja Ivana Ballon: No, not yet. I am a summer type, so I enjoy spending the days in the sun, at the seaside and on the beach. And the break will have to wait – DK Festival is indeed our biggest project, but it is still just one of the many.
MM: From the choice of keynote speakers and panelists to the technical performance and the branding of every corner of the Hotel Lone, everything was great. Each of the three award ceremonies was spectacular in its own right. Many excellent campaigns and projects took part in the competitions. What do you think about them?
Dunja Ivana Ballon: Thank you, Ekrem. Wow, you have really paid us a huge compliment with this question, which is definitely not suggestive. 🙂 We visit global festivals on a regular basis, and it is nice to hear from others that we are at the top. We beat the market with our program this year, it had no rivals, the community reacted positively and beyond any expectation, the competing and prize-winning projects were just splendid, but the one thing that really makes us stand out is the best community – all the people who gather at the festival and are responsible for the excellent atmosphere – that is something no one else has and what puts us in a league of our own. Modesty is a virtue, but it would be unfair towards everyone who was a part of this story to say anything different.
MM: This year, you were everywhere within a radius of 200 to 300 meters, from the Main Hall in the Hotel Lone to the beach. As far as I know, DK Festival is the only festival where you can lie comfortably on the beach while listening to the talk. And the weather was also fantastic.
Dunja Ivana Ballon: I can’t wait to see who will start copying us. 🙂 It turned out exactly as we had hoped for when we decided to be brave, to experiment and to invest (and when I say invest, I really mean it). It was clear very early on that the bill of quantities for this year would turn out two times bigger than the one last year and it was at no point a pleasant surprise. However, our wishes, ideas, persistence, and stubbornness are after all also far above average.
MM: How many people worked on the organization and the production of DK2023?
Dunja Ivana Ballon: About a hundred people participated in the organization of the very festival. But everything actually boils down to our dearest team that makes HURA and IAB alive, a small team who truly loves their job, which definitely shows. We have shared the best and the worst days, so the saying “for better or for worse” really applies here. The team consists of our Project Managers Helena Fuker and Maja Baumschabel, who turn every project into magic, our Communications Manager Barbara Tolić Aušić, who fills the media space with wonderful content about the festival. Marin Vlainić charms our community on social media on a daily basis. All of our competitions are managed fabulously by Eva Trstenjak. Not to forget the wonderful Monika Bogdanić and Katarina Osmak and our favourites Fran Ljubej and Toni Šiško (also known as Froni). The psychedelic design is done by the extremely talented Sven Sorić and the FUCK&LOVE festival story was created in collaboration with Jelena Babić aka Red. The production of a festival of this calibre has from the first day been conducted by Damir Stupnišek. Our l’extraordinaire Lara Stolnik makes sure that everything goes smoothly at the festival, and there is no joke with our lawyer Ivana Delalić when it comes to paperwork. Along with this team, a special shout-out to Iva, Mirella and Frenki, our resident MCs, who are also part of our family. The same goes for the irreplaceable Antonija Mandić, Ida Prester and DJ Rea. A special thanks also to the technical crew, a large and colourful team (Marko, Žuti, Rasta, Bojan and others) who are the first to arrive in Rovinj and the last to leave. A week before the festival, they prepare and set everything up and once the show begins, they watch over it for the whole 72 hours of the festival. I really admire and love all of them.
MM: DK Festival evolves all the more into a regional event. Not only because of BalCannes, but also because of the topics it stresses, the speakers, panelists and other aspects of the program. And because of the visitors, of course.
Dunja Ivana Ballon: The region fell in love with DK Festival – and it was love at first sight! All the praise, all the thrill and the expectations we exceeded have filled us with zeal for the next edition of the festival. We already have thousands of crazy ideas. The only problem is that we need to wait for another year to make them come true.
MM: With DK Festival becoming more regional, it will surely come to share the pie with Weekend Media Festival. This is inevitable, so I would like to hear your opinion on it.
Dunja Ivana Ballon: The fact that the region has become so enthusiastic about DK Festival is a great compliment. The biggest change, however, has come alongside a growing number of sponsors, who come from the region or simply find it and us attractive and intriguing… Don’t be shy and ruf mich an!
When it comes to business cases, Weekend Media Festival and DK Festival have not had overlaps for some time now in terms of audiences and partners. We are both quite concentrated on our respective targets, we are set up differently and offer different things. So, I don’t believe there will be significant changes, except that both events will continue to grow and enjoy the sweet smell of success.
MM: What did you find most memorable at this year’s festival, what will you remember the most?
Dunja Ivana Ballon: All those moments that don’t make the headlines or get posted on social media – unexpected chats, waves of laughter, 1001 silly situations in the Hotel Lone corridors, rooms, by the pool and as of recently, on the beach. New memories for life with people that I hold dear to my heart.
Among the on-the-record moments, what left the strongest impression was Snowden’s talk and the discussion that followed. The funniest moment was when three Idas appeared on the stage. Their rehearsals, choosing of outfits and our producer who supervised the whole thing and picked their sparkly outfits for the stage – we were laughing our pants off! Or Ida and Aida. The overwhelming positivity in the halls. The beach. The garden. The gatherings. Days and nights that melt into one another as we drift through them with a lot of care and joy.
MM: Do you already have in mind what alterations would you like to make, something new you would like to introduce next year?
Dunja Ivana Ballon: I do!
MM: This kind of event is impossible to organize without the help of a wide circle of people. HURA’s management board, your closest team of regular partners, numerous external associates, sponsors, and friends. Whom would you like to thank?
Dunja Ivana Ballon: In my mind, DK Festival has always been an opportunity to admire excellent ideas and projects, but this year we went even a step further. People who made that possible, apart from the already mentioned dream team, are Anđela Buljan Šiber, Chairwoman of HURA, who has supported our crazy ideas for the previous four years (and a number of years before that), Davor Bruketa, who has encouraged the craziest of ideas from the onset and Damir Ciglar, who is always there for us. Furthermore, there is Jelena Fiškuš, who has been with us every step of the way and from whom special energy and positivity radiate, and Nikola Žinić, who sometimes takes over as the voice of reason (completely justified). Not to forget the members of HURA and IAB Croatia Board, Kristina Laco, Rajna Cuculić and Vanja Bertalan, who helped us as an association to achieve many great things and to make a significant impact on the market, which is something only a few organizations can say for themselves. I would also like to thank Maistra and the Hotel Lone team, who support us no matter what and with whom we turn Istria into a top destination. Finally, I would also like to thank you and all our other partners and sponsors. And above all, friends of the festival, who are the best collaborators in the world and who are, apart from the already mentioned community and the great team, responsible for every single edition of the festival. Thanks to them, no one needs to fear what our market would look like were it not for our DK Festival.