The focus of this doctoral dissertation is the scientific study of contemporary Croatian newspaper film criticism of Croatian feature films. Different aspects of newspaper criticism and Croatian cinema were analysed using different methods of media text analysis (primarily quantitative and qualitative content analysis) and in-depth interviews with daily newspaper critics. The main aim of the research was to show the specificities of contemporary Croatian newspaper film criticism. Furthermore, trends and changes in the way of covering, analysing, and critically evaluating Croatian feature films in the daily press in the context of the Croatian socio-cultural environment in the 21st century were explored. The research shows how in the period from 2001 to 2019, the critical reception of Croatian films in the daily newspapers changed from neutral to predominantly positive, the conclusions of critics were connected to broader social issues, there was a higher level of affirmative criticism towards films that were considered to indicate on current social problems, and there was a low level of sensationalism in editorial headlines. It also presents, synthesizes, analyses, and comments on the results of the preliminary research that determined, always along with the analysis of critical arguments and the social context in the
mentioned period, which are the most positive and most negatively evaluated Croatian feature films, directors and genres, and in which ways Croatian cinema contributes to the pluralism of the representation of social topics.
The results of this research provide scientific insights into the specificities and trends of contemporary Croatian newspaper film criticism, which is a novelty in the national scientific literature and a scientific contribution to the research of Croatian journalism. By establishing the specificities of the contemporary Croatian feature film as contemporary mass media from the perspective of daily newspaper film criticism, in the context of Information and Communication
sciences (Journalism and Mass Media) and Art Science (Filmology), this dissertation also made a relevant multidisciplinary contribution to the study of contemporary Croatian cinema. The dissertation is divided into nine chapters. In the introductory chapter, the subject of the dissertation, the research objectives and hypotheses, the structure of the dissertation, a review of the literature important for the theoretical treatment of the topic and the scientific contribution of
the work are presented. The second chapter describes the basic concepts important for understanding the content of the dissertation and their main features: journalistic genres, criticism and newspaper criticism, film criticism and newspaper film criticism. The third chapter deals with the origin and development of film criticism in the world and in Croatia, and then with the Croatian newspaper film criticism and Croatian feature film in the 21st century: critical reception of Croatian film directors, genres of Croatian feature film and analysis of social themes and subjects in Croatian film. The fourth chapter describes the research methodology: all hypotheses were tested by quantitative-qualitative content analysis and in-depth interviews, and the dissertation also uses inferential statistics in order to formally test hypothesis H3. At the end of the chapter, the results of the research are presented, i.e. the analysis and comparison of the results of the conducted
research, which prove each of the 4 hypotheses. The fifth chapter is the discussion, and the sixth is the conclusion of the entire dissertation, especially the research results. An overview of scientific literature, is listed in the seventh chapter, appendices (code sheet, in-depth interview protocol, and list of newspaper reviews from printed editions and online editions) in the eighth, and the author's biography and published works in the ninth. The dissertation determined how the critical reception of the Croatian feature films changed from neutral to predominantly positive during the period. Critical reception can be described by a neutral (average) average rating of 2.88 in the first year of research, 2.89 in the first three and four years, and 2.90 in the first five years of research, while at the end of the period covered by the research,
critical reception is predominantly positive, as assumed in the hypothesis, with a score of 3.66 in the last year of research, 3.51 in the last three years and 3.5 in the last 4 years. The difference in the earlier and later periods of the analysed period is also visible in the result pointing that, according to critics' evaluations, extremely bad films are produced less often in later periods, and that in later periods there are more films rated moderately and extremely positively. Critics point out that they link their negative critical reception of Croatian films (and that of their colleagues
from other daily newspapers) to the 1990s, and not to films from the beginning of the 21st century, for which they give a relatively low, but still average, rating. It was established that newspaper reviews of Croatian feature films are characterized by drawing conclusions in connection with wider social issues, thus confirming the theoretical assumptions of newspaper film criticism that Žigo and other theorists of criticism highlighted in their works. 29% of reviews were characterized by a strong level of conclusions regarding social issues, 51% fair, 20% moderate, and 0.68% low. The average recorded level of drawing conclusions in connection with broader social issues in all three analysed lists is 4.08. During the years covered by the research, there were no significant deviations: the lowest level of 3.81 was recorded in 2003 and 2018, and the highest 4.32 was recorded in 2009, so in all the researched years the average level was considerable. Critics point out that the reason for drawing conclusions in connection with broader social issues, apart from their critical interests, are the topics that Croatian films deal with, because Croatian cinematography less often films escapist genre productions, and more often dramas from Croatian everyday life. It was also established that Croatian newspaper film critics predominantly wrote more affirmatively about Croatian feature films that they considered to indicate current social problems, than about those that did not. Films rated with extremely and moderately positive reviews had a
fair level of pointing out social problems (4.34 and 4.06), as well as neutral (average) rated ones (3.54), while moderately and extremely negatively rated films had a moderate level of pointing out to social problems (3.04 and 2.78). The research showed that critics mostly emphasize that they value socially relevant films, but only if they are of high quality, which was also confirmed by the research of their reviews. There are several examples according to which it can be noted
that social criticism by itself cannot bring positive criticism to a film that does not have the appropriate qualities. Thus, socially critical films received generally more positive reviews than socially non-critical ones due to the greater overall quality that most of them were distinguished by, and not only because of film critics' affinity towards social criticism. The editorial titles of criticism of Croatian feature films in Croatian daily newspapers were to a small extent sensationalistic, and mostly objectively reflected the views of the authors. The titles studied were, depending on the critics and editors, interesting, informative, funny, intelligent, ambiguous, likeable, intriguing or provocative, and the level of sensationalism ranged from the level of not at all (36%), very little (51%) to moderate (13 %), with an average low level of 1.78, without quite or extremely sensational headlines. Titles that are moderately sensational are often characterized by exaggeration, they often refer to popular culture (songs, sayings, books and films), but mostly objectively reflect the critic's attitude. Editors generally readily accepted the most intriguing theses, quips or comparisons offered by critics in their texts. Critics point out that newspaper headlines can be sensationalistic and reflect the author's position, just as they can falsify the author's position without being sensationalist at all, and the analysis of their criticisms shows that there were all the cases mentioned, so the sensationalism of the headlines should not be equated with the non-objective presentation of the critic's position. The most positively evaluated directors by critics among those with three or more films from 2001. till 2019. were Rajko Grlić, Ognjen Sviličić, Zrinko Ogresta, Vinko Brešan, Antonio Nuić, Arsen Anton Ostojić, Dalibor Matanić and Kristijan Milić, with a note that according to critics' ratings, filsm made by Grlić, Brešan and Ogresta had the most consistent quality. The most negatively evaluated directors among those with two or more films in this period are Vicko Ruić, Zdravko Mustać, Filip Šovagović, Jakov Sedlar, Fadil Hadžić and Krsto Papić. No female director made 3 feature films in this period, and only Snježana Tribuson made 2. Nevertheless, women directed some of the highest-rated films in this period. At the top of the list is Hana Jušić, Dana Budisavljević and Ivona Juka are among the highly respected, followed by Snježana Tribuson. The most positively rated Croatian films by newspaper film critics are Hana Jušić's Quit Staring at my Plate and Dalibor Matanić's High Noon, while the third on the list is A stranger by Bobo Jelčić. The most negatively rated Croatian films by newspaper film critics are The Recollection Thief and Seraphim, the Lighthouse Keeper's Son by Vicko Ruić, followed by Remembrance of Georgia by Jakov Sedlar and The Enchanting Porkers by Ivan Livaković. Croatian films in the 21st century that received the most positive reviews most often belong to the genre of social-psychological drama contemporary drama, the second genre is action, while the third is war drama. Among the genres whose representatives received the most negative reviews in the 21st century, road films, erotic films and biographical historical dramas are leading the way. Thematically speaking, global themes were definitely never the focus of Croatian directors, who mostly dealt with domestic problems and motives. Croatian cinematography dealt with the subject of violence and torture in many ways, intensively and, according to critics, competently, from historical (from the Second World War to the Croatian Homeland War) to contemporary subjects (terror against sexual minorities in Croatian society, fan hooligan violence), and the treatment of these subjects created some of the most appreciated film productions of that period. Regarding national minorities, the Serbian minority in Croatia was the most common film inspiration. Croatian films undoubtedly point to the activities of economic and political power holders, but cautiously and somewhat abstractly. Even the bravest directors did not pass their critical judgment on some specific political names from Croatian politics through their films, and with the exception of Vinko Brešan, almost no one dealt more seriously with the characters of Croatian prime ministers and presidents, but even in his films we can see general characters of politicians who cannot be related for some concrete Croatian political figures. There are very few films that have caused wider social controversies. Analysing the diversity of the angle of view of individual directors, i.e. their approach in the presentation of key social themes in Croatian feature films, we come to the conclusion that the most socially critical director was Vinko Brešan (with the themes of war crimes of Croatian soldiers, sexual abuse of children by priests and political manipulation), and then Branko Schmidt (with topics about young thugs and drug addicts, crimes within the healthcare system and
pedophilia in the Church). This dissertation provides a relevant scientific contribution to the study of contemporary
newspaper film criticism, as well as contemporary Croatian journalism in general. The results obtained in this doctoral dissertation provide scientific insight into the specificities of contemporary Croatian newspaper film criticism, but they also contribute to the positioning of newspaper film criticism in the context of journalistic discourse, pointing to the specifics of
newspaper film criticism as a journalistic genre which, in this sense, should be understood beyond the narrow links with literature and filmology, in the context of daily newspapers in which reviews are published and by connecting the conclusions with socially relevant topics. It should be emphasized that the proposed research model, taking into account the specifics of theatrical and literary works, could be applied to newspaper literary and theatrical criticism.