The Birch Tree
The birch is a tender tree, attracting attention for its slenderness and graceful beauty. Janica is different from the girls in her village. This is why people say she is like a birch among beeches. ln a village, of course, a beech is much more appreciated as a useful tree, so Janica feels herself less worthy for being different.
Slavko Kolar, Ante Babaja, Božidar Violić
Director of Photography
Manca Košir, Fabijan Šovagović, Velimir Bata Živojinović, Stjepan Lektorić, Nela Eržišnik
Ante Babaja (1927–2010) was a film director and a screenwriter. He was born in Imotski, and studied law and economics in Zagreb. His film career started as assistant director on the making of Blue 9 (1949) by Krešimir Golik. The short documentary One day in Rijeka (1955) is Babaja’s directing debut. His first feature film The King’s New Clothes (1961) is an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s tale. He then made several documentary and experimental films, and The Birch Tree (1967) was also a literary adaptation of a story by Slavko Kolar. It was awarded the Bronze Arena at the Pula Festival that same year, in the competition that included films I Even Met Happy Gypsies by Aleksandar Popović and The Feast by Đorđe Kadijević. The Birch Tree is considered a classic of the Yugoslav cinematography. The film defines Babaja’s poetics as a particular form of naturalism, the central topic being an exceptional individual in an unsympathetic and destructive mediocre environment. Babaja further developed this topic in his three subsequent feature films based on the prose by Slobodan Novak and in cooperation with this writer – Scent, Gold and Frankincense (1971), Lost Homeland (1980) and Stone Door (1992). In 1966, Ante Babaja founded the Film Department at the then Academy of Theatre, Film and Television in Zagreb.