(October 1, 1902 – August 17, 1987), a genuine pioneer of Croatian film, was born in a distinguished family of Stjepan Miletić, director of the Croatian National Theater and founder of modern Croatian theater.
From an early age Oktavijan was interested in film, which was a technological novelty at the time. At the age of 12 he already had his own film projector, and at 15 he attended the making of the first Croatian feature film, BRCKO U ZAGREBU (BRCKO IN ZAGREB). By 1926 he had already bought a 9.5 mm Pathé film camera and began making his first amateur films, which reflected Okti’s (as he was called by his friends and collaborators) affinity towards parody and experimentation.
His short comedies AH, BJEŠE SAMO SAN (AH, IT WAS ONLY A DREAM), 1932; ZAGREB U SVJETLU VELEGRADA (ZAGREB IN THE CITYLIGHTS), 1934; thriller POSLOVI KONZULA DORGENA (THE AFFAIRS OF CONSUL DORGEN), 1933; a parody of German expressionism FAUST (1934), which won second prize at the pan-Slavic competition in Zagreb, and an award at the Barcelona International Festival in 1935; a detective film NOCTURNO (1935), as well as others, brought Miletić international praise, as well as several notable awards. POSLOVI KONZULA DORGENA was awarded second prize at the 1935 International Film Competition in Paris (with Louis Lumière as the head of the jury), and NOCTURNO won a silver medal in 1936 at the IV. edition of the Venice Film Festival.
Miletić’s first place of employment was a Zagreb-based company ZORA FILM, where his first professional assignments involved work on silent film newsreels of the pre-war era. Soon afterwards, he began his long lasting relationship with German production companies UFA (BILDHAUERKUNST IN KROATIEN – CROATIAN SCULPTING, 1940; KROATISCHES BAUERNLEBEN – LIFE OF CROATIAN PEASANTS, 1942) and TOBIS (AGRAM, DIE HAUPTSTADT KROATIENS – ZAGREB, THE CAPITAL OF CROATIA, 1943). After the establishment of the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia, in addition to regular work on the newsreels „Hrvatska u riječi i slici“ (Croatia in word and picture) and „Hrvatski slikopisni tjednik“ (Croatian film weekly), he directed a so-called Kulturfilm BAROK U HRVATSKOJ (BAROQUE IN CROATIA), shown at the Venice Film Festival in 1942.
In 1943 he was both the director and director of photography on the first Croatian sound feature film LISINSKI. That same year, he began work on a short film RADIUM IZVOR ZRÁKA (RADIUM SOURCE OF RAYS), which was never finished.
After World War II, Oktavijan Miletić mostly worked as director of photography, on films such as ŽIVJEĆE OVAJ NAROD (THIS PEOPLE WILL LIVE), 1947, by Nikola Popović; BAKONJA FRA BRNE, 1950, by Fedor Hanžeković; KONCERT (CONCERT), 1954, by Branko Belan; JUBILEJ GOSPODINA IKLA (JUBILEE OF MR. IKL), 1955, by Vatroslav Mimica; SVOGA TELA GOSPODAR (MASTER OF HIS BODY), 1957, by Fedor Hanžeković; CAREVO NOVO RUHO (EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES), 1961, by Ante Babaja; and others. He directed only occasionally (JURAJ DALMATINAC, 1977, and TALIJIN TRAG – TALIA’S TRAIL, 1978).
As a lecturer at the camera department of the Academy for Theatre, Film and Television (today: Academy of Dramatic Art) in Zagreb, he imparted his knowledge to new generations of film and television cameramen, while at the same time working at TV Zagreb as author and host of programs on film culture.
In 1967, he received for his work the highest state recognition existing at that time: the Vladimir Nazor prize for lifetime achievement in the area of film.
The Croatian film critics’ association, honoring Miletić as one of the great contributors to, and arguably the founder of Croatian filmmaking, established in 1991 the award „OKTAVIJAN“ for notable achievements in film art, which is awarded annually in several categories.