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Rainbow below Velika Planina Plateau

In 2019, Photo, Cinema and Video Club Mavrica in Radomlje celebrated its 50th anniversary. Members of the film section Mavrica captured on film numerous events that took place mostly in and around Domžale, Kamnik, Mengeš, Moravče and Lukovica, as well as in Ljubljana. In addition to films documenting various events, they also made feature and even experimental films. In 2016, 2018 and 2019, the club transferred to the Slovenian Film Archives 161 films, and excerpts from six of the transferred films are presented here as this month's archivalia.

Rainbow below Velika Planina Plateau

Collage of films of the Photo, Cinema and Video Club Mavrica Radomlje, which are managed in the Slovenian Film Archive at the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia.

Films Made by the Photo, Cinema and Video Club Mavrica in Radomlje and Preserved at the Slovenian Film Archives of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia

In 2019, Photo, Cinema and Video Club Mavrica (Mavrica), with its seat at the Cultural Centre Radomlje, celebrated its 50th anniversary. Filmmakers from Radomlje shot the first few metres of »their own films« as early as 1966, when their films Svetovno prvenstvo v hokeju na ledu v Ljubljani (World Championship in Ice Hockey in Ljubljana) and Motoristična tekma za veliko nagrado Škofje Loke (Motorcycling Race for the Big Prize of Škofja Loka) saw the light of day. In 1967, Cinema Club Domžale was founded, but was closed down a year later. Members of Mavrica, which had operated as a section within the Cinema Club Domžale, founded its own independent Foto Cinema Club Mavrica on January 29, 1969, and soon began organizing their own photography and film courses. By 1971, they had accumulated so much material that they were able to hold their first club film festival and stage their first photo exhibition. After that, the club held exhibitions and festivals every few years and even had several Slovenian amateur film festivals. Their films were entered in some of the national (Yugoslav) film festivals and in festivals abroad. Since the very start, the president of the club has been Janez Kosmač.  

A link between the Slovenian Film Archives (SFA) and Mavrica was the late Janez Meglič from Spodnje Pirniče. It was because of his effort that most of the club’s films found their place at the SFA. In 2016, 2018 and 2019, the club transferred to SFA 161 films, most of them shot on 8 mm and super 8 mm, some on 16 mm film tape. Shot between 1971 and 2010, the films are now included into our collection of films under reference numbers 11.365–11.419, 12.027–12.069 and 12.543–12.605.

Members of the film section Mavrica captured on film numerous events that took place mostly in and around Domžale, Kamnik, Mengeš, Moravče and Lukovica, as well as in Ljubljana. They also made feature and even experimental films. Janez Kosmač, who independently or in collaboration with other members signed his name under astonishing 86 films, directed most of the films transferred to SFA. Karol Steiner, Igor Lipovšek, Toni Iglič, Toni Muller and Brane Bitenc directed up to ten films each, while twenty of the transferred films were teamwork or we have no data as to who actually made them.

Documentary films mostly depict events and changes that took place in the local community. One such examples are the films Opekarna Radomlje (Birckworks Radomlje) and Konec opekarne (The End of the Brickworks). While the former provides an insight into the production line in the brick factory, the latter shows only what remained of this once important industrial complex. Papirnica Količevo (Paper Factory Količevo) is another among industry related films, but there are also films dealing with crafts and these introduce us to the world of millers, barrel makers, bakers and tailors.

Among presentational films, the most frequent are the ones on the town of Radomlje. Especially telling in this category is the film Radomlje 1975-1977, which takes a viewer into the streets of the town, showing the details of town life and portraits of the locals. The film documents old crafts, constructions, monuments, schools, school classes, children in kindergartens, local community board meetings, poultry farming, milling industry, pubs, basketball, work of amateur filmmakers, local choir and firefighters.

Following the model of the national film companies, members of the club also shot Filmske kronike (Film Chronices), which were a sort of yearly chronicle of all the important local events.

Filmmakers had a special affinity for issues of cultural heritage, documenting intangible cultural heritage, such as Easter customs and traditions, pilgrimage to St. Primož hill over Kamnik, or shepherds’ lives in Velika Planina Plateau. They were also interested in what remained of their past, such as old houses, mills and wells (štirna). Realizing that such traditions and objects were quickly “becoming history”, filmmakers tried to captured on film their “last breath” for future generations and compare these final moments to a time when there was still much life in them. An example of such a film is the film Ugaslo ognjišče (Extinguished fireplace).

The films Grmade in tabori (Piles and Camps) and Plemeniti Jernej (The Noble Jernej) introduce to a viewer some of the early history of the territory. The former shows camps that were set up in the surrounding area of Domžale to defend local population against the Turks, and the latter is a film about Jernej Andrejka plemeniti Livnograjski, who was born in Dolenje near Rove and served as a high-ranking officer in the Austo-Hungarian army during the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. He described his experience in Bosnia in his book Slovenski fantje v Bosni in Hercegovini.

Filmmakers were well familiar also with feature films, both burlesques and those richly expressive ones. First among such films is the film Preobrazba (Transformation), whose title can be taken quite literally. It depicts a man with long hair and a beard, who comes to a barbershop before leaving for military exercises, and after the barber shaves his beard and cuts his hair, he is barely recognizable. It is interesting that hairstylist Avgust Frigidi, who resembled the American actor Bob Hope so much he believed he was his twin brother, played the part of the barber. This phenomenon was used a decade earlier, in 1971, by director Jože Bevc in his short film Kraljevi brivec (The King’s Barber). Two of the more poetic films are the film Sama (Alone) about a woman who just cannot get over the death of her lover, who fell in action, and while standing over his grave reminisces about their happy days together. The second film Komu …? (To Whom …?) shows a gravedigger digging a grave, drinking alcohol and eventually ending up lying dead drunk in the pit himself.

The most colourful of the films are films on nature, such as Razkošje v travi (Splendor in the Grass), which depicts the Volčji Potok Arboretum. Some films, however, have to do with just the opposite and tell the tale of pollution and man’s disregard for his environment.

Important, but rather personal, is the film Portret mojstra in prijatelja (Portrait of a Master and a Friend). The film was directed by Janez Kosmač and captured the life and spirit of a famous photo reporter Vlastja Simončič, who was a mentor to a number of Mavrica members, both filmmakers and photographers, helping them develop their artistic taste through sharing his valuable experience. Among the collection of films there are also some experimental ones, such as the film Relativno (Relative), which concludes by stating that it is not important whether you are on a bike or standing next to it, whether you are behind bars or in front of them, whether you are a fish or a person, etc. Another experimental film titled Neučakanost (Impatience) includes scenes of people who are all in a hurry, either in front of railway gates or even at a funeral. However, the majority of the time during which Mavrica members were creative, was a time of peace and kindness, as is shown in the portrait of bowlers in the film V nedeljo se dobimo (We meet on Sunday).

In terms of its organization, tradition, variety, recognition and arrangement of records, Mavrica is more than a typical example of such type of society in Slovenia. Its archival material, preserved at the SFA, enables new ways of research by employing “moving pictures” and provides “new illustrations” of local history and ways of life in central Slovenia.

Lojz Tršan