About us
Croatian film


Fifties in cinema

The 1950s were the period of elaboration and standardization of cinema system in Croatia in the context of the new state — socialist Yugoslavia, and the period of constitution of massive urban culture. Socialist system was the first to develop cinema into a diversified and elaborate cultural industry, featuring film as important tool of mass propaganda and general enlightenment. The fifties were characterized by marked developmental and open cultural and economic policy in the domain of cinema. For example, the idea of making an animated film was realized, while Zagreb film was founded as a production house specialized for short film, and at the same time amateur production was encouraged. Furthermore, Yugoslav cinématheque was founded, etc. Gradually, several festivals were started, which soon specialized — festival of Yugoslav film in Pula (founded in 1954) in 1960 became the festival of feature film, while Belgrade became the setting of Yugoslav festival of short film. Film critics approached film mostly from ideological standpoint regardless of whether they were domestic or foreign films, like Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle, 1950). However, more important was the ’prevention’ filter — a series of ideological ’readings’ and commissions that decided on various elements of a film. Often, films were labeled as artistic failures (like Branko Belan’s Concert, 1954) although the real grievance was ideological. Due to this, film was under a constant pressure of populism, the task to appeal to the widest range of people, which of course (as in socialist realism) implied a classical style — oriented on ’realistic’ stories, without western themes. Documentary film tradition was much stronger than feature film tradition resulting in a visual style that was often in contrast with films’ roughly schematized commentary.
Individual production continuity in the fifties opened the door to stylistic distinction — the examples of this trend in feature film were Branko Bauer and Fedor Hanžekovic, while Milan Katic, Branko Belan, Rudolf Sremec and Branko Marjanovic achieved it in documentary film. Modernist features first entered animated film, which was represented by strong and politically influential authors like Dušan Vukotic and Vatroslav Mimica. Later on, this trend prompted the foundation of the Zagreb School of Animated film. Ante Babaja made allegoric, markedly stylized short films. Such suggestions of forthcoming modernism could also be found in films of Rudolf Sremec and Šime Šimatovic. Amateur films by Mihovil Pansini, Tomislav Kobija and Ivan Martinac prepared the path for avant-garde movement of experimental film in the beginning of the sixties. This period, however, tolerated ’dilettantism’, which would be severely criticized by the auteur cinema in the sixties.

Hrvoje Turković

Šime Šimatović — Doyen of Croatian cinema
The Earth trembles and Obsession
Croatian cinema of the 1990s (PartOne)
Croatian cinema of the 1990s (PartOne)

View other articles in this edition...


new edition

Web Statistics