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My name is Gabriel Kovačević. I’m a descendant of

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My name is Gabriel Kovačević.

I’m a descendant of

Croatian immigrants in Argentina.

Ten years ago I started

researching Croatian history,

my family name and origin.

In 2008 I started to learn

Croatian language in my city, Rosario.

There I met Anja Strelec,

a journalist from Croatia

who helped me obtain

a scholarship in Croatia.

When we met, Gabriel told me he wanted

to come to Croatia and find his origin.

It was a hard decision. He had to sell

his car in order to buy a plane ticket.

He left his family, friends and job

for the sake of finding his identity.

Hi! I’m in Zagreb. When can we meet?

Great to hear you arrived.

We planned to promptly start searching

for his ancestors on the island Hvar.

He was so confused and excited

about finally being in Croatia.

We decided to film the whole journey.

My friends joined us as well.

They already found accommodation

on Hvar and some useful contacts.

Are are happy to go to Hvar?

Yes. I didn’t like Zagreb very much.

I’ve wanted to go to Hvar

since I came here.

My grandfathers made the same journey

when they were going

to the other end of the planet.

It’s incredible I’m on the same place hundred years after them.

My grandfather said that in those times

40 or 50 out of 70 families

in Stari grad were Kovačevićs.

Majority of families were Kovačevićs.

It’s strange there are so many of them.

The place shouldn’t be called Stari Grad

but Kovačević Village.

Thank you for coming.

We were in Hvar by coincidence.

Iva, nice to meet you.

His grandfather is from Stari Grad.

Really? What is your family name?

I don’t speak Croatian.


Oh, there are plenty of Kovačevićs.

I’ll bring this here.

The woman with whom we were staying

was also searching for her origin.

By coincidence, her surname was also Kovačević, just like Gabriel’s.

Back then we didn’t even suspect that

she would lead us to the wrong track.

Do you see how different it is?


It’s very strange to be here.

Every family has its nickname.

Does he know his nickname?

I don’t know.

I didn’t even know it exists.

We only knew that his great grandmother

was called Pacifika, maiden name Šoljan,

and that his great grandfather

was called Antonio Kovačević.

To Gabriel it was most important to find

the family on his grandfather’s side.

I have this.

I can’t see anything. What does it say?

Birth certificate.


The grandfather’s? Really?


All we had was

his grandfather’s birth certificate.

And a contact of a lady from the library whom we were to meet the next day.

How can I help you?

Good afternoon! Anja Strelec speaking.

Oh, it’s you. I’m in the library.

Have you arrived?

We came half an hour ago and

we’re tired after a whole day’s journey.

Tomorrow I’m not working,

but we can meet over a coffee.


Our hostess Zlata returned with a wrong information about Gabriel’s nickname.

We immediately believed her,

but Gabriel was sceptical.

No wonder they have nicknames

when they all have the same surname.

These are Barionas.

And do you know

how they got this nickname?


And does she know his nickname?

That’s his nickname. If I’m correct.

So I found your origin.

Maybe, I’m not sure...

I can’t believe. She brought information that my family’s nickname is Bariona,

without having any strong evidence.

The worst thing was

that my friends believed her

and spread the news around the town.

No chance. How could she know.

Have you been working in the library

for many years?

Yes, for a very long time.

Long enough for one lifetime.

We have some information

about his nickname.

Maybe it’s a wrong clue,

maybe it isn’t. Bari, Bari...



But that isn’t...

This is already...

But that might not be certain.

The woman from the library

didn’t have too much information,

but her friends gave us the numbers

of all Kovačevićs nicknamed Bariona.

It’s important to know

where we come from.

Modern communication possibilities

make this quest easier.

In Argentina there is a saying,

“If we want to know where we’re going,

we must know where we came from”.

If you hurry a bit, you can go with me

and i’ll tell you the directions.

Here we go,

let’s just finish the drinks.

And in that row is Malo selo.

There should be many Kovačevićs.

Because they belong to Malo selo.

That row is a common one of Malo selo.

You can film a few names, and that’s it.

In Argentina, in a telephone book

there are less than five Kovačevićs.

Here everything is full of them,

they are all over the place.

Where were you born?

In Peru. In Lima.

But I don’t speak Spanish.

Kovačevićs? Which Kovačevićs?

He doesn’t know that.

You don’t know? You don’t know anything?

These women really dedicated

themselves to the research.

In a few minutes, the whole island

knew about the Argentinean guy

who was searching for his roots.

Stanislava, write down 099.


Vesna says that you had Petar,

so we thought it might be this one.

So, it has nothing to do with you.

There is nobody here, they are

probably in the field, picking olives.

They managed to arrange a meeting

with the last Bariona in town.

We all thought it’s his kin.

Joško Kovačević was supposed

to be the last stop.


Is Joško at home?

Joško is home, he went to take a nap.

Here you go.

The guests have arrived.

Mister’s name is Kovačević, like yours.

They told us

he might be a kin of your Joško.

All right.

From Argentina.

OK, let them come here.

I will call him.

You can go inside.

Thank you very much.

I believe you’ll solve the situation.

Goodbye and good luck.



My name is Anja.

I’m Gabriel, nice to meet you.


You know Gabriel is from Argentina.

He doesn’t speak Croatian.


Yes, his parents didn’t teach him.

I have only this.

Yes, yes.

It doesn’t say Bariona anywhere.

How do you know this is the nickname?

Our hostess told us. She called her aunt

in Split and asked her.

I wish I knew. In Rudina there is

another Kovačević, Kovačević Šoljan.

We are the only Bariona here.

I suspect it might be related to Rudina.

I knew I wasn’t Bariona.

I didn’t expect anything from him.

Although he claimed he didn’t expect anything, Gabriel was disappointed.

We had to start from scratch again.

Hi dad!

Happy birthday!


How are you?

Fine. I’m in your dad’s village.

And how is it there?

The most beautiful place I’ve seen

in Croatia so far. It’s wonderful.

I could live here.

Is your father’s sister also born here?

What was her name?

Lukrecija... And who else was born here?


Great. I hope this will be useful.

Till soon.

Luckily, there’s always somebody

in the village who knows everything.

Lawyer Ružević has been studying

genealogy and surnames for many years.

He asked us not to film him directly

in order to better concentrate.

After all, he was searching

for data from 19th century.

There’s still hope.

There’s still hope?

What were the names of his sisters?

Lukrecija and Juana,

or Lucija and Ivana.

So, you’re looking for the Šoljan woman?

We’re looking for both, but...

These are called Bile.


So you say that’s it? All this

you have here, and even more, right?

I think you can try, but I’m afraid...


I’m afraid.

Thank you very, very much.

Thank you very much. Goodbye.

I would like to find a house

in which my grandfather was born,

because I know how much

it means to my dad.

But since we didn’t find even that,

I gave up hope.

What do you have, Gabriel?

A gift. I have a gift.

Dalmatia. This is where

my grandfathers based themselves.

That’s great. My dearest Dalmatia.

We are supposed to visit this guy Petar.

He’s a grandson of Petar,

Pacifika Šoljan’s brother.

Pacifika is Gabriel’s great grandmother.

Then we’re sure it’s the right lineage.

But this guy said we’re absolutely sure.

And that we don’t even have to ask.

Yes, the lawyer said it’s 100 % sure.

I only don’t know if we’re looking

for a living or dead person.

At the moment Gabriel is not aware

that we’ll randomly meet a passer by

who will introduce us to

his great grandmother’s family.

Right on the parking lot.


How can we reach Rudina?

You see that road sign there,

it says Rudina.

Aha, yes...

And go straight till you reach Rudina.

There are no detours,

just go straight for 2 or 3 kilometres.

Many thanks.

And why do you need Rudina?

We’re looking for his ancestors.

He’s from Argentina.

Really? Who are you looking for?

At the moment we’re looking for Pero.

Are his ancestors from Stari Grad?

He is Kovačević. But we discovered that

his great grandmother was born Šoljan...

Kovačević? Aha, yes...

And Šoljan lead us to

Petar and Antica Šoljan.

These guys are looking for their origin,

their ancestors are from Stari Grad.

They are looking for Pero Bile.

I’ll go to find him now.



Here you go, Miss.

This is Petar Bile. Now tell me...

My name is Iva, nice to meet you.


This is Gabriel.

My name is Gabriel.

Are you a descendant of Petar Šoljan and Antica, who had a son Maksimilijan?

In that case

you would be Maksimilijan’s son.

Maksimilijan is my father’s brother.

Father’s brother.

We need them now, we need Petar.

Maksimilijan’s Petar?

Yes, yes!

He’s younger than me,

he knows even less.

We should still meet him. We know

he’s probably Gabriel’s closest kin.

But he can’t be closer than me.

I’m the oldest.

Aha, from that point of view, yes…

There’s no closer kin than me.

Petar Šoljan whom we met

really was Gabriel’s kin.

We all found it unbelievable

that they met by pure chance.

He invited us to his house,

introduced us to the rest of his family,

and everything became much clearer.

Who is that?

That is Petar.

That is Petar.

That’s your great grandmother’s brother.

And who is this?

This photo was cut in two by scissors

when the family got divided.

And you got Petar.

Yes. Interestingly,

Petar ended up on our side.

But another photo of Petar and Antica

is preserved in Rudina.

She prepared it, let’s go there...

This might be Pacifika’s father,

but he is not absolutely sure.

So, all we can be certain about is

that they surely lived in that house.

Petar’s son offered to show us the house

where Gabriel’s great grandmother lived.

He promised to show us the second part

of the Šoljan family photo.

So, this is the house

where Pacifika was born.

In spite of all the new information,

Gabriel wasn’t enthusiastic.

From the beginning, his mail goal was

to find his grandfather’s family.

My name is Antica.

I’m Gabriel.

I find it more important to find

the Kovačević branch of the family.

After all, that’s the surname I carry,

while the surname Šoljan disappeared.

Look here, son,

this is him and this is me.

So this is the second part of the photo.

This is the complete photo.

This is now a complete picture.

That is....

This is Pacifika’s brother.

In theory.

In theory.

In spite of everything, I’m aware that

Šoljan is a part of my family.

It’s the surname of my great grandmother

and I have those genes too.

But I came to find information

about Kovačevićs.

Although we didn’t find Kovačevićs,

all locals already accepted Gabriel

as a naturalized Dalmatian.

Is he alone?

They are his friends,

and he is from Argentina

These are ours, these are ours.

And now he’s looking for his origin?

Interesting. It’s like in a film.

Actually he acted in one film.

I’m a born actor.

People say that a lot of conversation

is good for your health.

Did you know that?

We need as much conversation

and sincerity as possible,

because fabrication burdens

the nervous system and everything else.

That house where we were now

belongs to Kovačević.

His father died young and he has a son.

He really resembles him.

I immediately noticed he resembles him.

Put them side by side,

and you can’t tell one from another.

He too grew a little beard now,

they’re the same. I mixed them up.

That is Kovačević.

The only remaining thing was to go

to the Parish and check the registry.

Although it was Sunday, Šoljan called

the priest and arranged the meeting.

We knew it was our last chance.

Was there some nickname?

That’s what we wondered as well.

We had a wrong clue that it’s Bariona.

But it’s not the right nickname,

so don’t search by that.

He had only the surnames, so he started

to search for the first Kovačevićs

who came to the island in 18th century.

He found data about Kovačevićs

older than Argentina itself.

The biggest problem was

to find the nickname.

Without the nickname we couldn’t be sure that we found the right Kovačevićs.

We found everything.

We found these too. They are Kešers.

Kovačevićs are Kešers?

According to all the clues.

But the nickname Kešer

is very unfamiliar.

It’s strange to accept them

as part of my family.

You could contact this lady,

and she’ll easily explain the rest.

Contact this lady,

and you’ll see what she knows.

Thank you very much.

This means a lot to me and my family.

We were so exhausted from the search

and we didn’t quite believe the priest.

After meeting all those families

and getting wrong clues,

it seemed impossible that

Gabriel’s Kovačevićs live here.

Tell me, please, is your father Petar

a son of Katarina and Nikola Berković?

Yes, he is their son...

Then we solved everything.

This means you’re his distant kin.

And how am I related to him?

Your great grandfather Pietro Kovačević

had sister Katarina.

She’s her granddaughter.

You are family!

Finally we arrived!

Our aim was to find any living kin,

and actually that’s you.

I’m kin to the third degree.

Your dad is kin to the fourth degree

and you are to the fifth.

We can marry!

That’s my daughter, that’s the grandson.

I have three children.

I have one son. Translate it.

She has two daughters and one son,

and she says you can marry the daughters

because only kins to the second degree

are not allowed to marry.

I also have five grandchildren

and two more are on the way.

He is now the first generation

who is interested in his...

They never came here?


Why, why?

It’s very expensive and…

Without you,

I couldn’t have made it alone.

It’s quite dangerous to live in Argentina.

When my grandfathers left,

life was very good.

They got the land to cultivate

and certain benefits.

This is my family.

Mum, do you have any photo

of your dad and mum?

She’s is my only remaining kin.

After all, it was worth to

sacrifice everything and come here.

My God, who would think, is that...

Yes. And we solved it in two days.

That’s great.

My dad will be very happy.

He says you should contact him

if you ever go to Argentina.

We will!

I’m glad.

Have a pleasant journey!

Thanks a lot!

Goodbye, goodbye. Good luck.

Now I’m in the house of Šoljans.

Today I was in the house of Kovačevićs.

Both families are our kin.

I found information about the family

from 18th C. and their whole descent.

Your grandmother isn’t from Stari Grad

but from one village called Rudina.

I was told that your grandfather

probably met your grandmother there.

It’s incredible that I’m here

100 years later and researching it all.

I never thought I’d find families

on both sides, Kovačevićs and Šoljans.

Hugs and kisses.

See you!

See you in Zagreb, Stari Grad or Argentina.

See you, bye.

Bye, bye.

Apart from Kovačevićs and Šoljans,

our hostess Zlata found her kin too.

For the second time. And it was Gabriel.

My grandmother

was the sister of this Kešer.

Your grandmother was Kešer’s sister.

But of the old Kešer.

It’s kinship to the 5th or 6th degree.

Now you know you’re family,

so next time he can come for free...

We won’t pay. But it’s a distant kinship

on the grandmother’s side.

His grandmother’s?

My grandmother’s.

All those Kovačevićs you searched...

They sold the field and got millions.

Come another time.

Thank you for everything.

You’re welcome.

We barely saw each other.

When we just arrived,

she said she knew the nickname.

If she had known it,

she wouldn’t have told us the wrong one.

She would have already known

the real name of the family.

But she wants to be your kin.

She wants to boast that she’s the kin

of “the stranger in town”.

Here I realized

I’m more Argentinian that I thought,

but Croatian culture

will always stay in my family.

The surname will stay,

and every future Kovačević will wonder

where my family comes from

and why I have this surname.

Hence the importance of being Kovačević.

For me, of course.

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