Academic journal article Journal of Film and Video

Yugoslav Propaganda Film: Early Works (1945-52)

Academic journal article Journal of Film and Video

Yugoslav Propaganda Film: Early Works (1945-52)

Article excerpt

THE BIRTH OFTHE NEW YUGOSLAV COMMUNIST state from the ashes of World War Il announced a new era of the Yugoslav film, its life starting from the whirlpool of the revolution. The devastated country lived to see liberation from the German occupation, but with an almost completely destroyed infrastructure, demolished cinema facilities, and a lack of qualified professionals. Immediately after the end of combat activities, the new communist regime decided to tackle the film issue seriously, having in mind prewar and war experiences and especially the experiences and legacy of its grand mentor, the Soviet Union.

Organization of the national cinematography commenced slightly before the end of the war on July 16, 1944, when the film section within the Propaganda Division of the Serbian National Liberation Army general staff was established. The primary objective of this section was rehabilitating the remaining cinemas, organizing film projections, and reviewing and censoring existing films. After the liberation of Belgrade, in December 1944, the film section was established within the Propaganda Division of the National Liberation Army and Partisan Units of Yugoslavia, with the purpose of organizing the procurement and projection of films in addition to their production, sale, and distribution in the liberated territory. At the same time, in November 1944, the State Film Company of the Democratic Federal Yugoslavia (DFY) was established; its mission was to work on cultivating cinematography in the country, to monitorthe importingand distribution of films, and to supervise operation of cinemas. In the course of the following year, in November 1945, the Film Company of the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was established, whereas the film sections within Supreme Headquarters and the general staff of the National Liberation Army and Partisan Units of Yugoslavia and Serbia were terminated. In parallel, the new personnel structure of professionals to be involved in designing the national film in this initial period was being established. The enthusiasm of many prewar film and literary authors, painters, and other artists (AleksandarVucho, Radosh Novakovich, Branko Belan, Franc Kosmach, Nikola Popovich, and others), many of whom were active participants in the People's Liberation War, was employed in the manner of outstanding workmanship for rehabilitation of the national cinematography.

In the early period of Yugoslav film, propaganda was a high-ranking institution, taking into account a need for mobilization of the masses for the purpose of rehabilitation and reinforcing the newly established revolutionary regime. In accordance with the proclaimed objectives of the Communist Party, the propaganda was related to many segments of social activities, media, and communication, including film. With respect to the fact that the regime was well-versed in the Soviet propaganda model, in this early period of Yugoslav cinematography, immediate steps were taken to utilize film for propaganda purposes. The administrative period in managing the national cinematography commenced with the establishment of the new Film Company at the federal level. This company had the same responsibilities as the previous one- that is, the exclusive right to import and distribute films, organize mobile cinemas, and produce national films. The administrative period of Yugoslav cinematography, according to Petar Volk, was the most interesting phase from the propaganda point of view, considering that the foundation for development and implementation of the propaganda film was set during this period; Yugoslav cinema would record dynamic growth in the years to follow, until the breakup of Yugoslavia (10-34). The major role in this state-owned film enterprise was reserved for Agitprop of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party (i.e., its department of culture), in trying to establish- following the Soviet propaganda model- absolute control in the fields of culture and film. …

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