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Croatian film

Portrait of an author: Vatroslav Mimica

Films by Vatroslav Mimica

Vatroslav Mimica is, both in the quantitative and qualitative sense, creator of one of the most fruitful opuses in Croatian cinematography. While other prominent authors of Croatian cinematography usually combined motion pictures with short documentaries, or short films, he worked on very few documentaries, only as much as politics forced him to and in cooperation with other directors. His primary interest was animated film. Such orientation is very rare in the world (the best known example was Walerian Borowczyk), while in Yugoslavia there were no such authors (motion picture opus of Dušan Vukotić encompasses only three films that, despite different opinions, can hardly be compared to his animated work).

This is only one of Mimica’s singularities enumerated in the introduction; we can only add that visual quality of his perception is almost unprecedented in Croatian cinema (in this sense, his creative cooperation with Fran Vodopivac and Tomislav Pinter is very significant). More than any other Croatian author he was interested in urban high-tech surrounding and the world of nature, his inclination towards ethnography often reflected itself in his works, furthermore, apart from several new genres, he also introduced in Croatian cinematography relevant themes of estrangement and materialisation (that were, however, in his case often influenced by current trends), and he displayed, only as a principle, interesting erotic tastes.

His critics reproach him that ’he plays with art’, ’is a poseur’ and an ’artistic snob’, etc; there is no doubt that Mimica displayed some trendy pretentiousness, that his films were sometimes heavily burdened with explanatory messaging, and even ideology. That, however, is not the dominant trait of his works, it is, in the worse case scenario, only in the second or the third plan, on the margin, actually.

Vatroslav Mimica introduced a very much-needed creative ambition in Croatian film. If Croatian cinema, during the last decade, had such ambitious followers of his modernist and genre achievements, his highly developed visual culture, his ethnographic and ’naturalistic’ tendencies, we would be in a far more creative picture-writing situation and a better mood. Anyway, at this year’s film festival in Pula quite a number of critics were impressed by Lukas Nola’s film Sky, Satellites, and in the Croatian cinema tradition we can put this film only within the tradition of Vatroslav Mimica. This says a lot about Mimica, as well as about Croatian cinema. Vatroslav Mimica’s opus is not only a valuable past, but also one of the guidelines for the future of Croatian film.

Damir Radić

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