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Young Croatian Film

The syntagm »Young Croatian Film« refers to the optimism that emerged in the difficult times of confusion during the beginning of the Nineties as a result of the war. In film works, there appeared a new, young, educated and talented generation of directors, directors of photography, editors and actors which foreshadowed a creative and generational renewal in Croatian film. This could already be sensed with the film Mirta uči statistiku (Mirta Learns Statistics) by Goran Dukić (1991), which announced the coming of a talented generation of Croatian filmmakers. It was to be expected that production in the war years in Croatia would be dominated by the theme of war, and the first accurate and quality film testimonies on the Homeland War came from the youngest generation of filmmakers from the Zagreb Academy. Among the war documentaries, particular attention was attracted by Hotel Sunja by Ivan Salaj (1992), who, to an even stronger degree, confirmed his personal and unique approach to the war in the feature film Vidimo se (I’ll be Seeing You) (1995).

A unique place is held among the young group of authors who injected Croatian war films with spiritual refreshment and esthetic innovation by the prematurely deceased Jelena Rajković (1969-1997), with the documentaries Blue Helmet (1992) and Krapina, poslijepodne (Krapina, in the Afternoon (1997), and the feature Noć za Slušanje (A Night for Listening) (1995). Lukas Nola can be added to this group of authors with his feature film Svaki put kad se rastejemo (Everytime We Part), (1994). However, the greatest international resonance among the films about the Homeland War was achieved by the most widely seen Croatian film of the period. Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku (How the War Started on My Island) by Vinko Brešan (1996) was experienced as an authentically Croatian film precisely because the best characteristics of the film are, at the same time, Mediterranean and Central European.

Young Croatian Film also dealt with the postwar situation during the difficult period of transition. The informal ideologist of this postwar tendency is film maker Hrvoje Hribar who did not deal with the war directly, even though his films Hrvatske katedrale (Croatian Cathedrals) 1993 and Puška za uspavljivanje (A Rifle for Sleeping) 1997, which show a modern sensibility and intellectual diversity of interests, are unimaginable without the war as a context for personal and social relationships. This group of films can also include Risk Mess (Russian Meat) by Lukas Nola (1997) and the debut film Mondo Bobo (1997) by the film obsessed Goran Rušinović (1968). Young Croatian Film is on the trail of the new American film, but synchronous with European film trends and imbued with a Croatian urban sensibility, and it shows, with reason, that it has certain populist tendencies, but that it has not yet discovered emotion in its fullness.

It is as if that without emotionally stunted characters, there would be no place for ironic declaration, for disregarding ideology, and for contempt toward the elitist or any type of stereotype or conventional type of film rhetoric. All of this makes up the important esthetic and world-view components of the films of this generation among whom can be counted numerous young filmmakers (Ištvan Filaković, Neven Hitrec, Branko Ištvančić, Tomislav Jagec, Zvonimir Jurić, Goran Kulenović, Zoran Margetić, Saša Podgorelec, Ivan Salaj, Nikša Sviličić, Ognjen Sviličić, Jasna Zastavniković, Dražen Žarković and many others) who are up and coming.

Ivo Škrabalo

New Croatian Film, Old Production Rituals (The First Time Around)

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