The Pula Film Festival (Festival igranog filma u Puli) is the oldest Croatian film festival which is held annually in a Roman amphitheater known as the Pula arena since 1954.
When it was established, it was known as the Festival of Yugoslav Film
, and it quickly became the most important national film festival in SFR Yugoslavia
. Over the following decades the festival gained considerable recognition internationally, along with the Yugoslav film industry which continued to thrive since the 1960s. Many film production companies were soon founded across the former Yugoslavia and the industry released about 20 new feature films for nationwide distribution every year. These films competed for a number of awards at the festival, since the award categories and the festival concept were modeled after the Academy Awards
. However, the festival often served as a launching pad for new films before being released in cinemas nationwide, so - unlike the Academy Awards - the festival usually marked the beginning of a new season for filmgoers, not its ending.
In 1991 the festival was cancelled because of the outbreak of the war and the related breakup of Yugoslavia. In 1992 the festival was restarted, but it was renamed Filmski festival u Puli (eng: Pula Film Festival). The 1992 edition was also the first one that was dedicated solely to Croatian films, since the unified Yugoslav film industry disappeared along with the former country.
In 1995 it was renamed again and called Festival hrvatskog filma (eng: Croatian Film Festival) to emphasize its now exclusively Croatian character. However, since the Croatian film industry proved to be insufficiently productive, with only a handful of new titles being released each year, the festival's popularity rapidly plummeted. In order to rectify this, the festival opened for foreign films for the first time in its history in 2001, and was renamed once again to Festival hrvatskog i europskog filma (eng: Croatian and European Film Festival). From then on, apart from screenings of Croatian films, the festival also regularly offers an international program, as well as various one-off theme programs and retrospectives.
- National competition
- Big Golden Arena for Best Film (Velika zlatna Arena)
- Golden Arena for Best Director (Zlatna Arena za režiju)
- Golden Arena for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Zlatna Arena za glavnu žensku ulogu)
- Golden Arena for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Zlatna Arena za glavnu mušku ulogu)
- Golden Arena for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Zlatna Arena za žensku epizodnu ulogu)
- Golden Arena for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Zlatna Arena za mušku epizodnu ulogu)
- Golden Arena for Best Screenplay (Zlatna Arena za scenarij)
- Golden Arena for Best Cinematography (Zlatna Arena za kameru)
- Golden Arena for Best Film Editing (Zlatna Arena za montažu)
- Golden Arena for Best Original Score (Zlatna Arena za glazbu)
- Golden Arena for Best Makeup (Zlatna Arena za masku)
- Golden Arena for Best Costume Design (Zlatna Arena za kostimografiju)
- Other sections
- Golden Birch (Zlatna Breza) for best debuting director
- Oktavijan Award given by the Croatian Film Critics' Association for best film
- Golden Gate of Pula - Audience Award for best film as voted by festival audiences
People who had visited the festival over its Yugoslavian years include Orson Welles
, Sophia Loren
, Sam Peckinpah
, Richard Burton
, Elizabeth Taylor
, Yul Brynner
and many others.
Since 1992, actors such as John Malkovich, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Kingsley, Jeremy Irons, directors Phillip Noyce and Jiří Menzel and producers such as Branko Lustig have all appeared at the festival.