|Big Golden Arena for Best Film|
|Presented by||Pula Film Festival Jury|
|First awarded||1957 (unofficially)
|Currently held by||Just Between Us|
The Golden Arena awards were established in 1955 as the Yugoslav national film awards presented annually at the Pula Film Festival in Pula, Croatia, with the Big Golden Arena for Best Film its main prize. From 1955 to 1990 the awards were the Yugoslav cinema equivalent of the Academy Awards. In 1991 the festival was cancelled due to the breakup of Yugoslavia,[A] but then resumed in 1992 as the Croatian film awards festival (thereby excluding films and filmmakers from present-day Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia). It has been held in this format every year since, although no prizes were awarded at the 1994 edition.[B]
The festival's competition program usually includes screenings of all locally produced feature films made in the preceding 12 months (which is made possible due to the local film industry's relatively low output), so everyone involved in making them automatically qualifies for the Golden Arena awards. Therefore there are no Academy Award-style lists of nominees announced prior to the actual awarding ceremony. The awards are given by a jury of five or six members which is named before each festival edition by the festival's managing board, and it usually consists of prominent filmmakers and film critics.
Although the festival was established in 1954, the award for best film was first awarded in 1957 - prior to the 1957 edition, the festival had separate critics' choice and audience awards for best film screened at the festival. Until 1990, the award was always given to the film's production company or companies, except in 1981 when the award was merged with the Golden Arena for Best Director and both the director and production companies of the winning film (The Fall of Italy by Lordan Zafranović) were credited with the award. Overall, Jadran Film of Zagreb and Avala Film of Belgrade were the most successful studios in the Yugoslav period (1957–1990) winning 11 and 8 awards respectively.
In the 1990s the award was intermittently merged with the Best Director award, until 1999 when the old format was briefly re-introduced. Between 2003 and 2007 film directors were credited with the Best Film award, while still being eligible for the separate Best Director award (although on four out of five occasions in this period the same director won both awards for the same film). Since 2008 the award is given to the film's producer.
List of winners 
The following table lists all films which were winners of the top three prizes in the period from 1957 to 1980. On four occasions two films shared the same prize - in 1961 and 1965 two films shared the Big Golden Arena, in 1966 two films shared the runner-up award and in 1967 two films shared the third-place award. In addition to this, the 1965 second place prize was not awarded. Shared awards are indicated with an asterisk (*).
- Award changes
- In 1954 there was no festival jury and separate Critics' Choice and Audience awards were given. The Critics' Choice Award for Best Film went to František Čap's film Vesna, and the Audience Award for Best Film went to Fedor Hanžeković's film Stojan Mutikaša. In the following years both the critics' and audiences' awards were kept in parallel with the festival jury-given Golden Arenas, so the 1954 awards are usually not considered precursors of the present-day Big Golden Arena.
- In 1955 a festival jury was introduced for the first time and it was also the first time that the award was officially called Big Golden Arena. Although it was given to the best film's director, it is de facto the first Big Golden Arena for Best Film, and it was won by František Čap for the film Trenutki odločitve.
- In 1956 the Best Film award was not given in any form.
- From 1957 to 1960 the festival jury ranked three best films of the festival, without giving them an official award.
- From 1961 to 1968 the Big Golden Arena was awarded to best film, along with the second place prize called Big Silver Arena and a third place prize called Silver Arena.
- From 1969 to 1980 the third place prize was renamed Big Bronze Arena.
|Year||English title(s)||Original title(s)||Director(s)|
|1981||The Fall of Italy||Pad Italije||Lordan Zafranović|
|1983||Body Scent||Zadah tela||Živojin Pavlović|
|1984||Balkan Spy||Balkanski špijun||Dušan Kovačević
|1985||When Father Was Away on Business||Otac na službenom putu||Emir Kusturica|
|1986||Happy New Year '49||Srećna nova '49.||Stole Popov|
|1987||Reflections||Već viđeno||Goran Marković|
|1988||My Uncle's Legacy||Život sa stricem||Krsto Papić|
|1989||The Meeting Point||Sabirni centar||Goran Marković|
|1990||Silent Gunpowder||Gluvi barut||Bato Čengić|
Following the breakup of Yugoslavia which began in the early 1990s and the ensuing Croatian War of Independence, the festival was cancelled in 1991. In 1992 it was re-launched as the Pula Film Festival (as opposed to the Festival of Yugoslav Film as it was known earlier). Award categories and names were unchanged, but the selection was narrowed to Croatian films only, excluding films from the other five republics of Yugoslavia. This meant that the number of films eligible for awards fell sharply, which even led to the cancellation of the 1994 award ceremony, as only one Croatian feature film had been produced in the preceding 12 months.
- A. ^ Although the festival was opened on 26 July 1991 and a press screening of Zrinko Ogresta's film Fragments: Chronicle of a Vanishing was held, the festival board presided by Antun Vrdoljak decided to cancel the festival in protest against the violence of the Ten-Day War which was going on in Slovenia and the initial stages of the Croatian War of Independence. Nine films were supposed to be screened in the competition program.
- B. ^ : The awards ceremony was cancelled in 1994 as only one Croatian feature film was made in the preceding 12 months (Bogdan Žižić's The Price of Life). The festival was held in spite of this, but the usual national competition program was replaced with a retrospective of animated films produced by the Zagreb School of Animated Film and a selection of documentaries, while the main program featured premieres of six American wide release movies.
- "Internet stranice proteklih festivala i arhivski podaci" (in Croatian). Pula Film Festival. Retrieved 18 May 2010.
- "28. Pulski filmski festival" (in Croatian). Pula Film Festival. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- "29. Pulski filmski festival" (in Croatian). Pula Film Festival. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- "38. Pulski filmski festival" (in Croatian). Pula Film Festival. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- "Pula Film Festival: Overview". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- "41. Pulski filmski festival" (in Croatian). Pula Film Festival. Retrieved 21 May 2010.
- Pula Film Festival of Yugoslavian Films (1954–1990) at the Internet Movie Database
- Pula Film Festival (1992–present) at the Internet Movie Database
- Web archive 1954–2010 at the Pula Film Festival official website (Croatian)
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