As part of the splendidly varied film programming at the reinvigorated Cinema Tuškanac, now under the direction of the new manager Marko Rojnić, there are also many Croatian films screened from the archives of the Croatian Cinematheque. In organizing this programme, as realised thanks to the collaboration between the Croatian Cinematheque and Cinema Tuškanac, we were faced with the challenge of trying to attract people to come see Croatian pictures. Dealing with the competition is not easy, as there are excellent films from all around the world, as shown in other programmes at Tuškanac, and it becomes that much harder when forced to come to grips with the negativity and prejudice that mere mentions of Croatian cinema still seem to spark in others.
We knew that our take on Croatian cinema had to be creative and diverse, so last year, in 2019, apart from a handful of film programmes dedicated to individual filmmakers, our programming focus was to shed light upon specific periods in Croatian cinema, specific genres as well as topics. This year’s in memoriam programmes were centred on professionals who passed away, namely actor Ivo Gregurević, cinematographer Andrija Pivčević, and producer and organizer Krunoslav Heidler.
The easiest one to organise was, of course, the programme dedicated to one of the best Croatian actors because we ‘simply’ had to choose some of the many wonderful films he acted in. There was also an exhibition with photos of Gregurević and stills from his roles to accompany the programme. Then there was Krunoslav Heidler, a film professional whose interests were as diversified as our programme in his name. There were distinct films which Heidler participated on in some way, as a producer in the world of amateur cinema and/or as a pioneer of Croatian ‘independent cinema’. Thirdly, Andrija Pivčević, a cinematographer who enjoyed working with daring filmmakers, people who did not shy away from experimentation, unusual topics and approaches. It was this playful aspect of Pivčević’s oeuvre that guided us in selecting amateur as well as professional works he had done for Ivan Martinac, Nikola Babić, and other eccentrics of our cinema.
The period we decided to focus on was post-war Croatian cinema, with films demonstrating an unusual tension between a need for propaganda and a desire for arts. Where genre is concerned, with respect to the incredible amount of attention which Predrag Ličina’s horror film Last Serb in Croatia (Posljednji Srbin u Hrvatskoj, 90 min, Croatia/Serbia) managed to garner in its run across Croatian cinemas, we decided to ransack our history of cinema for other examples of Croatian films of that genre. Croatian horror films may be few and far between, as we have found, but their quality is not to be dismissed. So our programme of Croatian horror pictures included some top-notch titles in which the element of horror is mostly used for purposes of allegory and parody, but also as the pure source of fear.
We also decided to start our thematic film programming with programmes dedicated to specific cities and town or regions in Croatia. The idea was not only to attract the cinéastes, but also to appeal to any viewers interested to see how their hometowns were portrayed in documentaries and how they served as backdrops in various feature films. Dubrovnik was our first stop, with its surrounding area, as depicted in countless documentaries—and not just of the standard tourist kind, but also very peculiar, very complex ones—and fiction films by Lordan Zafranović, Dušan Vukotić and other acclaimed directors. The food and bits of culture from the Dubrovnik region were served at the opening night, which proved to be another audience pleaser.
In fall 2019, we began working on a project aimed at bringing students to our screenings of Croatian films. In collaboration with professors of Croatian cinema, we also initiated a programme called Film Curriculum. Two Croatian films – one short and one feature – would be chosen for screening, from the lists of films used for university courses on Croatian cinema. Introductory words were delivered by university professors who teach Croatian cinema or other film experts with Croatian cinema as their area of expertise. In addition, since most of these were classics, the programme was also popular with the wider public curious about getting to know the building blocks in the history of our national cinema.
In conclusion, our goal was to find the right balance between the desire to bring as many people as possible to programmes that appeal to them and the desire to show the exceptional Croatian cinema as art, while educating our public about its history.
Programmes in 2019
In memoriam: Significant roles of Ivo Gregurević (18–20/02)
Postwar Croatian cinema (25–26/02)
Horror in Croatian cinema (03–04/05)
Dubrovnik on film (22–23/10)
In memoriam: Andrija Pivčević (17–18/12)
Film Curriculum, 15/10
Introduced by: Nikica Gilić
The Secret of I.B. Castle (Tajna dvorca I.B., short, Milan Katić, 1951, 23’)
The Blue 9 (Plavi 9, feature, Krešo Golik, 1950, 93’)
Film Curriculum 05. 11.
Introduced by: Juraj KukočThe author of the text, Juraj Kukoč works as a film archivist at the Croatian Cinematheque
People of the Neretva River (Ljudi sa Neretve, documentary, Obrad Gluščević, 1966, 17’)
Don’t Look Back, My Son (Ne okreći se sine, feature, Branko Bauer, 1956, 105’)
Film Curriculum 10/12
Introduced by: Tomislav Šakić
The Inspector Returned Home (Inspektor se vratio kući, animation, Vatroslav Mimica, 1959, 11’)
Monday or Tuesday (Ponedjeljak ili utorak, feature, Vatroslav Mimica, 1966, 77’)