Award presentation accompanied by the screening of A Little Village Performance.
There are many people who are the pillars of the Croatian cinema but are rather unknown to the general public. This year, the festival’s 50 Years Award is dedicated to such people. Its laureate is one of Croatia’s most interesting film professionals still in the highest demand – assistant camera and director of photography Rajko Mitić Mito. This award, given from the outset of the festival, celebrates Croatian film professionals who have spent fifty years making films. Mitić certainly owns a record in this category: he made his first film before man walked on the moon and the last one so far only weeks ago.
Mito spent his whole life to film. He mostly worked as assistant camera and focus puller, but also as director of photography, gaffer and even film director. Mito learned the tricks of the trade in Zagreb Cinema Club, where he turned his passionate hobby into his profession. He has been making films ever since, without stopping.
The first film he worked on was Branko Ivanda’s 1967 film Gravitation Or the Fantastic Youth of Bank Clerk Boris Horvat. Since then, he has worked on more than three hundred features and documentaries, including such classics as I Have Two Mothers and Two Fathers, Train Towards South, Dreaming the Rose, What Is a Man Without a Moustache, You Carry Me and the ever-popular evergreen One Song a Day Takes Mischief Away. His films were shown at Pula Film Festival so many times that he can call Pula his second home.
He worked with almost all the greats of Croatian cinema, such as Nikola Tanhofer, Krešo Golik, Bogdan Žižić, Petar Krelja and the master of Croatian documentary film Krsto Papić, with whom he worked on several important documentaries. His impressive expertise made him travel the world and work with many great names of film such as Orson Welles, Pierce Brosnan, Ben Kingsley, Colin Firth…
He looks at his career with no vanity. He mostly worked only as assistant camera because his primary goal was to work. He helped eight filmmakers win their Golden Arenas in Pula.
During more than half a century of his impressive (and still active) career, Mito got to know the mechanisms of international and national film industries. When talking about his experience in America, he explains the difference between American and Croatian films. “No difference; they’re running times are the same. It’s just that in America you do seven shots a day and here in Croatia you have to do 30–35 shots a day.”
Naturally, he is full of stories from international and national film sets. He almost went deaf on the set of Jon Avnet’s Uprising due problems with special effects. He also remembers how he helped Croatian actor Ivica Vidović ride a bike in The Last Race, a film in which Vidović plays a cycling champion! A makeshift local train almost hit him at the set of One Song a Day Takes Mischief Away.
Although he has worked on more films than hew can remember, he is still active in Croatian film industry. Honoring this modest artist-behind-the-camera who has indebted Croatian film, MFF is showing Krsto Papić’s short documentary A Little Village Performance, made with Ranko Mitić as assistant camera. The film shows a village festival with folk dancing and amateur singing, raconteur and beauty contests in Croatia’s Međimurje region. It won a Grand Prix at the Yugoslav Documentary and Short Film Festival in Belgrade in 1972.
Ranko Mitić belongs to a whole set of modest film professionals behind the camera who are never in the spotlight. Usually unknown to audiences, they are very much known to all those whop work on films. This year’s award is dedicated to such people, without whom there would be no magic of film that we love so much.