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Valuable book at the right moment

Mato Kukuljica, 2004, Protection and restauration of film stock, Zagreb: Croatian State Archive

It is a well-known fact that the biggest part of early film stock and silent film is lost forever. The awareness of the need to preserve films developed only during the First World War, as preservation of documentary material, but also for the needs of repeated commercial screenings, and proving ownership with preservation of negatives. However, when switching to sound, many producers have destroyed »superfluous« silent films. By the mid 1930s, first national film archives were founded in Germany, France, Great Britain, and the USA, and in 1938 they founded FIAF. In his comprehensive book, Mato Kukuljica, director of Croatian Cinématheque, reviews the wholesome area of film archiving with thematically clear, precisely, expertly and thematically composed insight. In the first chapters he presents the development of film archiving from the idea of film preservation to contemporary attitude towards film heritage, correspondingly giving an overview of film history from technological perspective. The third chapter deals with film tape in detail, its decay and preservation — the core task of film archiving, followed by the central part of the book, detailed, expert chapters about all the aspects of identification, protection, archiving and restoration of film stock, giving an answer to literally every question a film archivist might face. The following chapter deals with new technological (digital) possibilities in film archiving. Special chapters are dedicated to the project of restoration of Croatian film stock, its practical problems and examples from practice. Concluding chapters offer a theoretical review of the book and film archiving in general, presenting a philosophy of film archiving. This book is a product of decades of Mato Kukuljica’s experiences, scientific and research work, and will become a crucial work in the field, and not just for Croatian speaking readers. Its coherence in the field of theory and practice of film archiving is such that it would be difficult to find its counterpart in FIAF’s publications or anywhere in the world.

Dejan Kosanović

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