Unraveling the layers of fiction

Karla Lončar

Narrative film, as an art form, has always interested me, and given the opportunity to study cinema at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb, I had gained enough knowledge to experience it in a more profound way. Since I was young, I enjoyed reading reviews of Croatian critics that interpreted feature films as a testament of a unique fictional world, with its own norms of reflecting reality, rather than solely pinpointing a film's faults. By the time I finished my college degree in comparative literature and sociology, I realized that I have enough insight to provide a meaningful, and critical interpretation of many inspiring films myself. By identifying the entanglements of a film story and its possible meanings, represented by a specific cinematic language, I have begun to write essays about films that hopefully embellish their spectators with more critically refined awareness of various aesthetic elements.

My approach to criticism stems from Croatian film comment tradition influenced by the European intellectual heritage. Enchanted with European art-house films and Hollywood classics, a group of talented critics emerged during the 60's and 70's, and set a standard of quality writing that many future reviewers would strive for. Along with their well-articulated interest in cinema, they have also shared a keen interest in film studies. Some of them became film scholars and made a joint effort to produce an excellent two-volume Encyclopaedia of Film. Following their footsteps, every now and then a number of prospective critics appear. At the moment, there are lots of young cinephiles who are eager to write about film. However, due to the ongoing economic and publishing crisis, as well as downgrading quality of commercial journalism, their writings can only be seen or heard on the margins of cultural production. Although noticed by a small amount of people, the media in which they contribute serve as an important meeting-point of enthusiasts willing to discuss film.

Similar to the increase of interest in film criticism, there is also a heightened interest in film production. Every year, Croatian national cinema enriches itself with more and more short and feature-length films, mostly comedies or art-house dramas that in some way deal with the aftermath of the War for Independence. Although somewhat lacking in quality compared to the classics of Yugoslav modernism, the future of Croatian cinema seems fairly bright. As for the future of professional film criticism, the outcome isn't that certain.