Ita Rina

Ita Rina postcard (detail) from the late 1920s. Slovenian Cinematheque

Born as Ida Kravanja in Divača in 1907; died as Tamara Đorđević in Budva, Montenegro, in 1979. The first and only Slovenian big film star.   

Ida Kravanja spent her early childhood in Divača. She was said to be a lively, unconventional child who liked to wander around and dance. When Ida was 7 and her sister Danica 6, World War I broke out. The Kravanja family took refuge in Ljubljana, where Ida fell in love with theatre – in her new home, she opened Ida’s Theatre and directed plays with the neighborhood kids. In her teenage years, she learned acting from books and glamorous theatre performances which made her dream of becoming an actress. And she did: vision, resolve, dedication to acting, and her beauty, but also sheer luck transformed the Ljubljana bank clerk Ida Kravanja into Ita Rina, the diva of silent film whose greatness and name are still written among the stars.  

The wheels of Ida Kravanja’s truly movie-like story were first turned by her two friends. In 1926, they entered her into the all-Yugoslavian beauty pageant, organized by an American film production house, but knowing that her strict mother, even more protective as a recent widow, would not let her take part, they told nobody. Thus, she only found out from the newspaper that she was one of the 7 finalists of a contest she had not even applied to. Her mother tried to prevent her from going, saying a woman’s place was in the family, but she finally gave in to the pleads of numerous reporters, artists, and family acquaintances, and accompanied her daughter to the Zagreb finale. Although they missed the central part, Ida was offered to do a film pilot in Berlin. She told her mother she was taking a train trip with friends of the family, and escaped to Europe’s film metropolis, where in less than a month, she acted in her first film under a coincidentally appropriate title What Do Children Hide from Their Parents (Was die Kinder ihren Eltern verschweigen, 1927). Upon return to Ljubljana, she was already Ita Rina, film actress from Berlin.

The Divača tomboy became a film diva: the newspapers followed her every move, and her premieres were sold out to her fans.

At 22, she gained fame in the Czech silent film Seduction (Erotikon, 1929). Due to her “acting and photogenic abilities”, but also due to the first nude scene in the history of Czech film, which raised quite some controversy (making the film one of the most viewed movies of that year), the Divača tomboy became a film diva. Newspapers followed her every move and the premieres were sold out to her fans. In Ljubljana, the “audience besieged the box office”, in France, she was praised as “a great artist”, in Latvia and Croatia, poems were written in her honour, on Czech soil, she was “the great tragic heroine of the big screen”. She shot movies in Germany, France, Estonia, and Czechoslovakia, and her opus comprises at least 20 full length films. In addition to Seduction, the Czech film Tonka of the Gallows (Tonka Šibenice, 1930) is considered to mark the peak of her career.

The most famous photographs of Ita Rina, still sought after, are found on postcards from the golden age of silent movies. The actress is most often depicted as a fragile, vulnerable girl, although she was everything but: she built her film career herself, with no help from accomplished colleagues, and she preferred good directors and roles to huge sums of money.

Ita Rina’s unique personality is also reflected in the story according to which she declined an invitation to Hollywood. In 1931, her fiancé Miodrag Đorđević faced her with an ultimatum: “it’s either Hollywood or me”. She chose him and ended her promising acting career at the age of 25. After marriage, she took on the name Tamara Đorđević, converted into Orthodox religion, and raised a family in Belgrade. She acted in a few films even after that, yet without former success.  

The story of Ita Rina is a universal story of an ordinary person who manages to achieve a big breakthrough in the world, which triggers admiration, affection, optimism, courage, and also identification with the great actress.  

Museum of Slovenian Film Actors

The Museum of Slovenian Film Actors in Ita Rina’s birthplace features a permanent exhibition on her life and work and a permanent exhibition on Slovenian film actors. Upon request in advance, larger groups can see film screenings, among them of the film about Ita Rina The Girl with Marbles (Deklica s frnikulami, 1997). The museum is accessible for people with reduced mobility, there is also a place to rest and a playroom for children.