“It is not commonly known that watching films in the Arena started long before the Festival was founded,” said Sanela Pliško from the Pula Film Festival Public Institution at the presentation of the new Festival monograph edited by herself and Lana Skuljan Bilić from the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria.
The two editors spoke about the monograph “70 Years of Film Under the Stars in Pula” at the Home of Croatian Veterans on Sunday 16 July, the second day of the Festival. They were joined by historian Igor Duda, director of the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria Gracijano Kešac, and director of Pula Film Festival Public Institution Tanja Miličić.
“The first screening of films at the Arena was on 16 June 1938, so we are actually celebrating 85 years of film screenings at the Arena this year. Other than 16 June 1938, another key moment preceded the birth of our Festival: the Revue of Foreign Film held in 1953 and followed by the Revue of Domestic Film. This then led into 1954, when the Festival started, initially also as a revue of film, only with domestic films screened first, and then foreign films. The programme was modest, but that spark lit a fire still burning today,” said Pliško.
Pliško and Skuljan Bilić worked on the monograph for two years with the goal of gathering accurate information about the Festival all in one place. “We wanted to present all of the important things that define the Festival, all its transformations and circumstances it went through, as well as the novelties introduced over the last 20 years. The goal was to show the way in which the Festival affected Pula and vice-versa,” said Skuljan Bilić.
The 592-page monograph sets forth a collection of material and information previously dispersed among a number of private and institutional archives in Croatia and the countries of former Yugoslavia. A lot has never been presented before.
“It is a gold mine for all future research, as it was a monumental undertaking to break through all of the archives and get to the necessary information,” said Duda. “The editors have done a great job, and have even gone a step further. They have not only created a gold mine, but tons and tons of neatly stacked gold bars. They have gone through piles of material, consolidated it, and presented the history of the Festival in a smart and layered way,” said Duda in conclusion.
The initiative to publish a monograph started from the previous director of Pula Film Festival Public Institution Gordana Restović. “She made arrangements with the Historical and Maritime Museum of Istria for this comprehensive task requiring preparation and a lot of research. I am happy that now, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Festival, we have insight into what went on with the Festival,” said Miličić and added that the last and until now the only monograph “207 festivalskih dana u Puli” by Ranko Munitić was published in 1978 to celebrate the 25th edition of Pula Film Festival.