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Pula '98.

The Achievements – The Festival of Croatian Film, Pula ’98

A review of the national feature film festival in Pula ’98 (July 29 — August 1), and some accompanying programs.

Six feature films were shown at the this year’s film festival in Pula. Only three of these films (by Juran, Papić and Tribuson) were done primarily for cinema screening. The other three were originally TV films presented as theatrical films. Among these, Agony by Jakov Sedlar (a TV screening of a theatrical play, a melodramatic thriller from the turn of the century, written by Miroslav Krleža), and Canyon (a feature compilation made from the children’s TV series) by Vladimir Tadej lack the ambition, elaboration and invention to be competitive in a cinema environment, and the TV film The Deception by Željko Senečić is only halfway there, mixing some creatively brave and impressive sequences with some unbearable nonsense.

Transatlantic is imbued with spirit and enthusiasm — a story about the fate of a Croatian émigré. The best parts of the film are those where Mladen Juran lets loose his poetic-impressionist accretion of fragmented images of the past. His mastery of the storyline and characterizations is much less impressive. The humorous drama When the Dead Start to Sing by Krsto Papić about two friends, one of whom is proclaimed dead in order to be smuggled from Austria into Croatia alive in a coffin is made in a pretty traditional but not outdated manner. Occasional good humor and well staged characters are arguments for the film’s popularity with audiences. The best and most well-rounded film is the romantic comedy Three Men of Melita Žganjer by Snježana Tribuson. It is a cheerful story about the romantic troubles of a plump girl. Filled with good actors and characters, it offers many occasions for a good laugh. A little slow and diluted at the beginning, it gains pace as it goes along. A real treat were the two accompanying programs. One program presented student films from the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb.

We could see the witty short comedies A Very Sad and Tragic Story by Daniel Kušan and La Donna e Mobile by Nebojša Slijepčević, and the playful omnibus documentary Metropola about marginal town characters by Tomislav Rukavina, Stanislav Tomić and Dalibor Matanić, and the excellent short feature A Drop by Zrinka Matijević. Though some Academy films, especially the last one, suffered from some technical drawbacks in picture and sound, their cinematic mastery and maturity is quite recognizable. In the »Young Croatian Cinema« program, three short feature films were presented. Two were made in the US by young Zagreb filmmakers and one was a Croatian TV film. The two US films are metaphorical stories. The Birdlover by Arsen Oremović and a witty, fantastic story about a young man and a fortune-teller in From Bad to Worse by Goran Dukić. The Full House by Ognjen Sviličić is a fifty minute TV drama with a touch of comedy that was made in a consistenly slow and reduced realistic manner.

Janko Heidl

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