Memories and reminisces


When the lights go out and a ray of light coming from the projection booth writes FAS - Film Author Studio on the screen in front of you, you will witness an amazing event - the screening of films that were made exactly 40 years ago. You came to the theatre out of curiosity or simply love of films, some of you may be here from casual interest just like the first film produced by FAS in 1967 was Ljudi u prolazu (People in Passing, directed by Lordan Zafranović). It was one of the three films made in that year. In 1968 we made ten new films. We were young, enthusiastic, curious and stubborn, we were all over the news and television, our cash register was almost always completely empty but we stuck together “from the idea to the premiere”. When passing our studio, professor Rudi Sremec would peek through my open door and ask: “Kruno, what’s new in FAS today that I still haven’t read about in the news?”

FAS was established at the initiative of the members of the Cinema clubs Zagreb and Split and so the production of films was organized within the Film Association of Croatia at the time and today’s Croatian Film Clubs’ Association. Soon a new production concept was formed - a new organization, cooperation in all production phases, searching for a new identity, independence from professional production and openness towards all others who accepted these principles. After the official decision about starting the production house was reached, the baby had to be named. At the proposal of the president of the Film Association Vladimir Škarica it was decided that it would be named Film Author Studio - FAS. That name was supposed to reveal our aspiration to be different, as most of the production houses at the time had geographical names.

Let me mention the authors who started their career in FAS and managed to persist until its bankruptcy in 1973: Lordan Zafranović,Vladimir Petek, Ranko Kursar, Ivan Martinac, Petar Krelja, Milivoj Puhlovski, Zoran Tadić, Ante Peterlić, Rajko Grlić, Miroslav Mikuljan, Tomislav Radić, Ljiljana Jojić and Milica Borojević, the first female directors in the history of Croatian cinema, as well as authors from Ljubljana Karpo Godina, Rudolf Franček, Rajko Ranfl and Vasko Pregelj. Other professional filmmakers joined FAS: Branko Bauer, Branko Majer, Zlatko Sudović, Mate Relja, Dušan Vukotić, Fadil Hadžić, Ivo Škrabalo and Zvonimir Berković. We also have to mention Alfi Kabiljo and Arsen Dedić who started to write film music for the first time for FAS productions.

This impressive group of film lovers soon became too big for the Film Association of Croatia, which could not support the growing number of productions and therefore on December 31, 1967 FAS was registered as an independent company with all the same rights and obligations as other Croatian film production companies.

The ambitions of the company were not just to produce films but also to try and change the state of film production along with the relationship of society in general towards film. At its very beginning FAS founded and published a new film magazine, Septima, which unfortunately had to be closed due to financial problems.

Due to the fact that at the time we were sick of the short news Film News that were shown before every film and which made the audience sit in the lobby and drink coffee awaiting the feature presentation and therefore missed short films produced by FAS that were on the program between the news and the film, at Zoran Tadić’s proposal we made the new film news reels - Film Morning Star. The name itself was a new concept. It was supposed to be a weekly report about events in Croatia without the omnipresent politicians. Naturally, our chances at success were equal to zero because the ruling politicians were too influential for a group of enthusiastic idealist like us. But, at least, we tried.

Then we moved to the new offices at Trg žrtava fašizma where we stayed until the end.

As the studio’s director the first thing I did in our new offices was to remove my office door in order to create a better atmosphere for communication, FAS-like, without announcements and special requests for a meeting.

We immediately decided to go to Europe. Peterlić’s Slučajni život (Accidental Life) was shown in France while the author was present as well, Karp’s Picnic v nedeljo in Krakow, but without the author because he spent all his money in Vinena, Zafranović’s Nedjelja (Sunday) in Mannheim where we planned to buy a car with the prize-money, but the Czechs screwed us over and we had to return home on the Orient Express.

In spite of small production budgets, films produced by FAS were huge hits every year at the Festival of Documentary films in Belgrade, some due to their curiousness and others because of how they embraced delicate ideas that were taboo to Party members at the time.

Those were years of social turmoil and for the members of FAS they presented a chance to “write” some things down. For example Zoran Tadić and Branko Ivanda shot and directed a film about the student protest. During the shooting the directors had security hanging around them and finally all the materials were seized and banned for 20 years. In 1999 Nenad Puhovski managed to get his hands on this material and Branko Ivanda re-edited it into a one-hour film Poezija i revolucija (Poetry and Revolution: The 1971 Student Strike).

Another FAS project attracted huge attention. The film was by Branko Bauer and screenwriter Zorislav Ugljen Atentat na Stjepana Radića. Naturally we had to attend “consultations” with the government. The Party’s director assigned us a consultant, Ivica Račan, who was in charge of culture at the time. He read the screenplay and supported it completely. We were ready to start production but then came the “Spring of 1971” and our project was halted. Afterwards we made the films about the one-thousandth anniversaries of St. Blasius and Beatifikacija blaženog Nikole Tavelića, the first film produced by Kršćanska sadašnjosti, and our cup began overflowing.

Five feature and forty short films brought us no profit and we could not continue production. Since the Fund for Film Development at the time assigned financial aid not just based on the quality of screenplays but more on the producer’s status, FAS received only half as much financial aid for our documentaries than, say, Zagreb film. Therefore, FAS soon simply “passed away”.

Viba film in Ljubljana took over our unfinished films by Slovenian directors and Zagreb film those by Croatians.

I cannot deny that we had the support of the public as much as it was possible at the time. Tomislav Radić’s film Živa istina was not at first accepted into the official program of the Pula Film Festival. However, film professionals and journalists loved the film, and so Dušan Makavejev and I started a petition for it by turning over some of the film’s posters and collecting signatures for it on the backs. And it worked! Stipe Šuvar, the jury’s president that year, called a hasty meeting and corrected this mistake by awarding Božidarka Frajt with the Golden Arena as Best Actress. Thus this film became the only one that received this award without being part of the official competition program. At the press conference, the journalists and the audience gave ovations to the jury’s decision. That is how we fought for our ideas and work.

In this program you can see a part of our production and I believe that we will not disappoint you. It was worth all of our effort and sacrifice.

And while you watch the films I will be reminiscing, while drinking a liter of wine and water, about those exciting times and beautiful people who together with me tried to make some changes -- and managed to as much as circumstances allowed. I am thankful to all of them for the best years of my life in my three quarters of a century.

Thank you for your patience and your willingness to see our films! (Kruno Hajdler, director of FAS)