Generation of fulfilled promises

Young Croatian cinema, even though without stylistic and thematic unity, brought some aesthetic novelties into Croatian film, primarily in the form of post-modernist influences

Wanting to explain the belittling attitude that Croatian critics and audiences had towards Croatian film in the 1990s, film critic Jurica Pavičić stated that the problem of Croatian film is not that there are no good Croatian films, but rather that there are many bad films. I agree, but think that the reason goes beyond the large number of bad films and lies more with the very small number of good films that were made in 1990s Croatia. Even though there are a few good ones, when I start to list them there emerges a nice bundle of decent films. Most of them belong to the so-called Young Croatian film. This expression was first explained and officially introduced by Ivo Škrabalo and it denotes a group of young directors that emerged in the 1990s. But young directors emerge all the time, so why was this expression used in the 1990s? One of the reasons is the sudden end of the old generation’s production, since they appeared only with one or two films in the 1990s. In fact, this change was not so sudden within the context of the radical changes of the state, ideology, culture, and psychology of the cinema system, as well as war in 1990s, -- but its intensity was unexpected. Besides the fact that in the new regime young directors had a better shot at a good career than had been the case in ex-Yugoslavia, when established directors hung on to their supreme positions with an iron grip. That is why this change of generations and the arrival of new powers were so apparent at the time.

The other reason was the quality of films re: hopes for its quality. Namely, the 1990s brought a significant decrease in the quality of Croatian film. There were very few films made and they were mostly average at best or simply bad at worst. They were made by directors who, due to their age and experience, could not be called young. Veterans did not make any quality films either. These films were often attacked because of their ideological messages. Hope for improvement rested with the very young generation of filmmakers whose members managed to shoot several good feature films and documentaries which will be shown in this program (besides authors whose films are in this program, we should certainly mention the inspirations of Croatian film from that time, such as Zrinko Ogresta and Snježana Tribuson, who began directing in late 1980s and therefore did not formally fit in the young Croatian film group of authors).

Young Croatian film, even though without stylistic and thematic unity, brought some aesthetic novelties to Croatian cinema, primarily in the form of post-modernist influences which are apparent in some of these authors’ films (quotations, irony, stylistic playfulness and flirting with kitsch in films by Hrvoje Hribar, Lukas Nola, Goran Dukić and Snježana Tribuson).

Even so, nobody made a great film (in my opinion those which came closest were Ivan Salaj’s Vidimo se, Vinko Brešan’s Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku and Goran Dukić’s Mirta uči statistiku). This generation was also referred to as the Promising Generation. But have they fulfilled their promise? Considering that the first decade of the new century ha been called the age of rebirth, restoration and renaissance of Croatian film, and that in this period of good Croatian film the largest role, along with Arsen Ostojić, Zrinko Ogresta and Tomislav Radić, was played by the young Croatian filmmakers (Ognjen Sviličić, Dalibor Matanić, Vinko Brešan, Hrvoje Hribar, Lukas Nola), I believe that they have not disappointed us. (Juraj Kukoč, program’s selector)