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Branko Bauer
Branko bauer.jpg
Born (1921-02-18)18 February 1921
Died 11 April 2002(2002-04-11) (aged 81)
Occupation Director, screenwriter
Years active 1950–1982
Awards Vladimir Nazor Award for Life Achievement in Film (1980)

Branko Bauer (18 February 1921 – 11 April 2002) was a Croatian film director. He is considered to be the leading figure of classical narrative cinema in Croatian and Yugoslav cinema of the 1950s.

Early life

Bauer became interested in cinema as a school boy. During World War Two he attended local cinemas in Zagreb, which were very popular during the Nazi occupation. His father Čedomir Bauer and he hid their Jewish tenant Ljerka Freiberger from the Ustashi police in 1942. As a result of these actions, Yad Vashem honored both of them as Righteous among the Nations in 1992.

In 1949, Branko began working in the Zagreb-based Jadran Film studio as a documentary filmmaker. His feature debut was the 1953 children's adventure film The Blue Seagull (Sinji galeb) which distinguished his work from then-native Yugoslav productions through vivid visual style and natural acting.

Selected works

Don't Look Back, My Son

Bauer became one of the most respected directors in Yugoslavia after his third film, the 1956 war thriller Don't Look Back, My Son (Ne okreći se sine; released as Don't Turn Around, Son in the US). The film tells a story about a World War II resistance fighter who escapes a train en route to the Jasenovac concentration camp and returns to Zagreb in an attempt to find his son and join the partisans in the Croatian hinterland. However, he realises that his son is in an Ustaša boarding school and has been brainwashed. The hero manages to escapes the city with his son but throughout their journey he is forced to lie to his son about their actions. The film was loosely based on Carol Reed's thriller Odd Man Out, and its last scene - which inspired the title of the film - was inspired by Disney's film Bambi.

Three Girls Named Anna

Bauer's next film was the 1957 feature Only People (Samo ljudi), a melodrama influenced by films of Douglas Sirk. The film was a critical flop, mainly because melodrama was not considered a serious genre in 1950s communist Yugoslavia. After that film, Bauer worked for a Macedonian production company and made Three Girls Named Anna (Tri Ane; 1959), a neorealism-influenced film sometimes compared to Umberto D. by Vittorio de Sica. Three Girls Named Anna tells a story of an old man who lives alone believing that his daughter was killed in World War II as a child. Suddenly the man receives information that she could have had survived and is now probably living as an adult in a foster family. Bauer's gritty, authentic portrayal of post-war poverty and the lower classes of society was not welcomed by the establishment, and the film was never shown in cinemas, but it is today often considered Bauer's "forgotten masterpiece" and his best film.

Bauer's next two films were more commercially successful - the 1961 comedy Martin in the Clouds (Martin u oblacima); and the 1962 film Superfluous (Prekobrojna, 1962), which introduced Milena Dravić as a future Yugoslav superstar.

Face to Face

Probably the best known of Bauer's films is the 1963 feature Face to Face (Licem u lice), a film which is considered to be the first Yugoslav political film. It tells a story about a rebel worker who challenges a manager during a communist party meeting in a huge construction company. Although it was initially seen as controversial due to its political content, the film eventually received support by communist officials, which was understood among filmmakers as a green light for more overt depictions of socially controversial topics. Serbian director Živojin Pavlović said that Face to Face had been "the most important film shot in Yugoslavia by that time".

Late career

During the 1960s, Yugoslav films shifted to modernism, and Bauer couldn't accommodate to an auteur cinema. In the 1960s he made two unsuccessful modernist films, and was subsequently unable to get funding for his new cinema projects. During the 1970s, he directed the TV series Salaš u malom ritu (1976), a war drama set in Vojvodina, one of the most memorable works of Yugoslav television.

Filmography (as director)

  • The Blue Seagull (Sinji galeb, 1953)
  • Millions on the Island (Milijuni na otoku, 1955)
  • Don't Look Back, My Son (Ne okreći se sine, 1956)
  • Only People (Samo ljudi, 1957)
  • Three Girls Named Anna (Tri Ane, 1959)
  • Martin in the Clouds (Martin u oblacima, 1961)
  • Superfluous (Prekobrojna, 1962)
  • Face to Face (Licem u lice, 1963)
  • Nikoletina Bursać (1964)
  • Doći i ostati (To Arrive and to Stay, 1965)
  • Fourth Companion (Četvrti suputnik, 1967)
  • Salaš u Malom Ritu (A Farm in Mali Rit, 1975)
  • Boško Buha (1978)
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