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Croatian film

Majcen's inheritance

Croatian Nonprofessional Film (1928-1998)

Late member of the editorial board of the Croatian Cinema Chronicle and a notable historian of Croatian film, Vjekoslav Majcen, has written a survey of a history of Croatian amateur film movement that was published in festival catalogue only. The paper is republished here to be of wider accessibility.

Film amateur movement in Croatia started within a photographers’ club, which was established in 1892 (ZagrebaČki klub amatera fotografa / Zagreb Club of Amateur Photographers, later renamed Fotoklub Zagreb / Photo Club Zagreb). The first photo amateur to turn to film camera and film shooting was a dentist Maksimilian Paspa in 1926. In 1928 he established a Film Section (Kinosekcija) within the Photo Club Zagreb and in the course of the following years quite a number of photographers became involved in the activity of the new Film Section. At the time there were amateur cinematographers in other Croatian towns too (Rijeka, Split, Karlovac, Virovitica), and some of them shot films outside the Club. Members of the Film Section participated at various international film competitions and some of them won awards (Oktavijan Miletić at Photokino-Verlag G. M. b. H. in Berlin in 1931; M. Paspa at the 2nd International Festival of Amateur Film in Amsterdam 1932). They organized several film competitions in Zagreb (in 1934 it was a local competition; in 1935 an international competition). A representative of Film Section was present at the inaugural convention of UNICA in Barcelona, in 1935.

That same year, 1935, Maksimilian Paspa initiated the establishment of an independent Cine Club (Klub kinoamatera Zagreb / Film-Amateur Club Zagreb, later renamed Kinoklub Zagreb / Cine Club Zagreb), and this club (except for a short pause after the World War II) survived up to this day. Cine Club Zagreb’s most prominent filmmakers were Oktavijan Miletić with witty short features (who later became one of the best professional cinematographers and was the author of the first sound feature film, Vatroslav Lisinski, in 1944) and Maksimilian Paspa, with valuable documentary shorts. In 1936, another informal club was initiated (Romanija), with 60 members, some of whom became prominent professional filmmakers and actors (Krešo Golik, Nikola Tanhofer and others). All clubs were active till the end of World War II when radical socialist ideology introduced changes in all facets of life, amateur film included.
After World War II, when the socialist state established itself, it started to give support to amateur movements in various artistic fields, and film clubs in different cities were initiated (first in Split, in 1952; in 1954 the activity of the Cine Club Zagreb was renewed; and in 1959 a Film club in Rijeka was initiated, etc.).

At the beginning of the 1960s there was an influx of mostly young university students who initiated a new artistic approach in the Cine Club Zagreb and Cine Club Split, mostly with modernist (avant-garde) inclinations. Mihovil Pansini started several talks on the theme of ’anti film’ in Cine Club Zagreb, and in 1963 he established a biannual festival of experimental film (GEFF — Genre Film Festival; ’genre’ was UNICAs term for non-conventional forms). It lasted till 1970 (when the last, fourth festival was held). A number of significant avant-garde filmmakers became prominent in that period (Pansini, Vladimir Petek, Tomislav Gotovac, and some others in Zagreb, Ivan Martinac, along with some authors from Split). At the time, all the important output of experimental film was exclusively limited to these two film clubs (Split and Zagreb). However, later on they were joined by the film clubs in Rijeka and Osijek. Split Film Club produced two generations of notable filmmakers (in the ’60s and the ’80s).

In 1955, the first children film club was initiated in Zagreb, but the children film-club movement spread quickly with the peak in the 1980s (190 children clubs). Most prominent clubs were those in PitomaČa (Slavica, established in 1957), Čakovec (where in 1975 a School of Animated Film was established, under the guidance of Edo Lukman), and Varaždin (Vanima). Today, the children film movement is strong, represented by 120 film clubs and has its own annual festival.

In 1963, a film-club association was formed (Kino savez Hrvatske / Croatian Film Association, after 1990 renamed Hrvatski filmski savez / Croatian Film Clubs’ Association). Its first tasks were the organization of amateur film festivals, for adults and children alike. Gradually its activities expanded, and today they include the storing of amateur film and video material, technological support for individual non professional filmmakers, publishing, organization of educational courses, etc.

In the seventies, a group of video artists emerged, mostly bound to video and TV workshops, and to art gallery milieu, outlining a number of important artists (Sanja Iveković, Dalibor Martinis, Goran Trbuljak, Ivan Ladislav Galeta, Breda Beban and Hrvoje Horvatić).

The transition from the 1980s to 1990s was marked by a global shift from the cinematographic technique to electronic, video technique. This was an impetus to production and the rise of new youth and adult film clubs, as well as a number of independent non-professional filmmakers. The film-club scene was enlarged by a growing number of individual video artists. Still regularly held festivals of non-professional films (Revija neprofesijskog filmskog i video stvaralaštva / Revue of Non-Professional Film-and Video-making) are witnessing an increasing number of works entering the competition (from 80-100).

Introduction; The inauguration of Film Section in Photo Club Zagreb; Affirmation of amateur filmmaking; Participation in the international film amateur movement; Competition for the best amateur films; All-Slavic amateur film competition; The inauguration of the Film Club Zagreb and the widening of amateur filmmaking; The renewal of amateur film movement in the fifties; Childrens filmmaking; Explorations of film language; Non professional film-and video-making in the nineties; Notes

Vjekoslav Majcen

Zvonimir Rogoz’s Filmography
Ljubomir Maraković’s Bibliography

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