‘Cinemas have often been referred to as temples. Temples of the seventh art, temples inhabited by Hollywood deities, temples adoring film stars. But what if one such temple were built just a few yards away from the real, actual temples 1700 years old? All this in a unique complex of a late ancient imperial palace. On a global level we might have something much more important than a cinema. It would be logical to open an institution within this heritage site complex that will focus on the preservation of memories and remembrances – ours and the cinematic ones. An institution (literally, not allegorically) imbued with the spirit of time gone by, raising it to the pedestal. The name of this institution is Zlatna vrata Cinematheque…’ (Danijel Rafaelić, film historian)
Renovation of the Romanesque palace that today houses the Zlatna vrata (Golden Gates) Cinematheque’s theatre began in 1958. In a renovated Gothic palace (within Diocletian’s palace), on 18 December 1961 a part of the Đuro Salaj Workers University Cultural Centre building was opened (today’s Zlatna vrata Centre for Culture and Lifelong Learning). Three years later the entire building was opened for use, including a hall with 250 seats. The first film screened on 30 November 1964 – it was the Slovenian picture Ne plači Petre. In June 1965, the first classic title was shown – Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.
In the late 1960s, to the initiative of the former Centre manager, Mrs Milka Barač, film clubs were being established in schools and universities. The aim was to design a more profiled programme to move away from the repertory policy led by other Split cinemas.
The idea was smartly complemented by director Ivan Martinac, formalising it in a programme of film classics. As a great connoisseur of film, he made it possible for generations of Split youngsters to be introduced to film as art. Ivan Martinac was here selflessly backed by the institution employees, led by the already mentioned Milka Barač and professors Vedran Gligo and Svemir Pavić.
For continuous activity in film endorsement and education of its members, the Centre’s Film Club won the City of Split Award in 1984.
The classic film programme is the Cinematheque’s mainstay, but it is not the only one. Aware of the Cinematheque’s educational role, especially the fact that new generations need to be brought closer to film art, the Cinematheque enriched its core business with numerous programmes. In addition to collaborations with embassies and cultural centres of European countries to Croatia, the Cinematheque’s programme in the past decade has included documentaries and closer cooperation with local film festivals, as well as distributers promoting European film, American independent film and less represented cinemas. Croatian film classics programmes and contemporary Croatian productions are screened in association with Croatian Cinematheque and Croatian Film Clubs’ Association. We are also organising film retrospectives and promoting works by Split-based filmmakers.
In 2012 the Zlatna vrata Cinematheque became part of Europa Cinemas, an association gathering independent cinemas promoting European film. Year in and year out, Europa Cinemas has been providing educational and financial support to cinemas of our profile. The objective of Europa Cinemas is to ensure operational and financial support to cinemas obligated to include in their listings a significant number of European films and work on educational and promotional activities aimed at new audiences. Europa Cinemas association in present in 69 countries and 682 cities, gathering 1182 cinemas with 3194 screens. Including the Zlatna vrata Cinematheque.