One filmmaker’s four 'vocations'

Petar Krelja is one of the few lucky film lovers who managed to do all three, according to Godard, equally valuable film jobs: for more than forty years, with same the diligence, he has been visiting film theaters, writing about film and making films

There are witnesses and testimonials that Petar Krelja does not stop to think and talk about film even in his free time at a coffee-house or kitchen table. Those are not separate activities. One job seems to be “feeding” the other: the viewer and critic are kinds of counselors to the director, who primarily wants to be something completely different - a portraitist of people, a humanist.

Therefore Krelja’s rich documentary opus (more than two hundred titles) and four feature films are connected. When he documents and when he “fantasizes”, he is drawn by three kinds of people: marginal people (homeless, orphans, lonely people), ordinary people with ordinary yearnings and unusually talented or persistent individuals. The fourth and especially privileged group are women, who are usually (with rare exceptions) mostly marginalized in Croatian film: playful girls, nurses, “enchantresses”, women passionate about different things, tough women who suffer, (un)happy women and especially creative women … The gallery of these characters is a shop window of inexhaustible documentarist methods. Krelja’s point of view (which is basically that of a documentary-maker) may be clinically “strict” (for example in Vrijeme igre) and observantly flaunting (Ponude pod broj), anxiously immersed in other people’s pain and directly compassionate (Na sporednom kolosijeku), subversively ironic depending on the subject’s need or merit (Recital, Splendid Isolation) or playfully optimistic when it wants to capture the joy of creation (Mariška band, Kovačice).
Nevertheless, whether being sagacious, questioningly curious or poetic, this point of view never ceases to be tactful, forbearing and ethical. It is primarily devoted to the ultimate goal of giving and preserving the dignity of its fragile human subject. (Diana Nenadić)