In the 1960s, Yugoslavia—which had broken away from Soviet influence in 1948 and strove to remain non-aligned amid the polarization of the Cold War—became a place where artistic experimentalism took many forms, often receiving official support, though never becoming mainstream. The Croatian capital of Zagreb offers an example of a particularly vibrant cultural scene. In 1961, it hosted the first of a series of international New Tendencies exhibitions, which promoted such phenomena as concrete, neo-constructivist, kinetic, and conceptual art. The impact of these exhibitions was amplified even further through the publication between 1968 and 1973 of the multilingual journal Bit International. The first edition of the avant-garde Music Biennale Zagreb took place in 1961, introducing local audiences to contemporary music from around the world, most notably jazz. Even earlier, in 1955, the International Graphic Biennial was established in the Slovene capital of Ljubljana. Further major cultural events established in Yugoslavia in the 1960s to open up the country to international cultural trends included the BITEF international experimental theater festival and the FEST international film festival, both held in Belgrade. In addition to this, the cinematheques in major cities, such as Belgrade, Zagreb, and Ljubljana, regularly screened films from influential contemporary movements, such as Italian Neorealism and the French New Wave.
Against this background, film experimentation also thrived, thanks largely to an extensive network of amateur film clubs that were established in numerous cities to allow non-professional film enthusiasts to find each other and gain access to necessary equipment. In the 1950s and 1960s, these clubs attracted many talented amateurs; some of Yugoslavia’s most acclaimed filmmakers of the era—including Dušan Makavejev, Želimir Žilnik, and Karpo Godina —became professionals after having made films as members of amateur clubs. The clubs remained a viable path into professional filmmaking until the end of the socialist era. In subsequent decades, less well known filmmakers, including Milan Šamec, Nikola Đurić, and Igor Toholj, turned their involvement with film clubs in Zagreb and Belgrade into lifelong careers lasting into the post-socialist period.