The first seven meters of Slovene film as the foundation stone of a new art
“What’s so special about that?” some might ask. And yet the seven meters of film that constitute the singleshot cinematic document filmed by the lawyer Karol Grossmann in Ljutomer in 1905 are enormously important.
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This fragment of film is the equivalent of the Freising Manuscripts [oldest surviving document] for Slovene film, the foundation stone of what was then a new art, a new way of representing the world and telling stories. Since that time, film has developed into a vital and influential part of the media landscape and a dominant element of contemporary culture. Grossmann's film, which was subsequently given the title People Leaving Mass in Ljutomer, is an expression of that self-confidence and selfawareness a community needs if it is to constitute itself politically as a nation.
It does not matter that this happened in a small town of marginal importance and that the document was filmed by an amateur – someone who was not even a professional photographer. Ljutomer is evidently a place where first bold steps are taken – from horse races to political rallies to film. The inhabitants are (were?) evidently people who do not look around to see what others are doing but instead do what is required of them by the times.
The first French film, made in 1895, shows workers leaving a factory. The first Slovene film shows the faithful leaving Mass. In both cases these departures could also be seen as an arrival. The arrival of the working class on the political stage. And the arrival of clerical Slovenia on the stage of modern, secular national communities.