BRATISLAVA: The year 2019 was more successful for Slovak cinema compared to 2018 in terms of admissions and also the large number of domestic titles released in cinemas.
A total of 30 projects registered for the 20% cash rebate at the Slovak Audiovisual Fund in 2019, compared to 30 in 2018 and 12 in 2017.
In September 2019, new amendments to the Audiovisual Law were approved and the rebate increases from 20% to 33% starting 1 January 2020.
A total of 26 feature films (including 14 minority coproductions), 16 documentaries (including six minority coproductions) and two animated features were completed in 2019.
Multiple high-profile projects were in production in 2019, and some of them are expected to premiere in 2020.
Martin Šulík finished shooting his new feature film Man with Hare Ears / Muž so zajačími ušami in June 2019. The film produced by Šulík´s company TITANIC s.r.o. and Rudolf Bierman´s IN Film Praha in coproduction with RTVS and the Czech Television is to be released in 2020.
The award winning director Peter Bebjak started shooting his WWII drama The Report / Správa at the beginning of 2019. The film is a coproduction between Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany, produced by Bebjak’s company D.N.A. in coproduction with Agresywna Banda, Evolution Films, Ostlicht Filmproduktion, RTVS, the Czech Television and TVP.
Aclaimed documentary director Peter Kerekes finished the production of his first feature film Censor / Cenzorka, produced by Punkchart films in coproduction with the Czech company endorfilm, Arthouse Traffic from the Ukraine, RTVS and Slovakia´s E-S Production.
Mátyás Prikler started shooting his new feature film Power / Moc at the end of 2019. The film is produced by MPhilms and coproduced by Proton Cinema from Hungary, Czech company Negativ and RTVS .
Mariana Čengel Solčanská and Rudolf Biermann directed and produced the thriller Scumbag / Sviňa as a coproduction between Slovak CinemArt SK, Magic Seven Slovakia and Czech IN Film Praha. The film was released in February 2020.
Zdeněk Jiráský shot his drama Kryštof, produced by Slovakia‘s ALEF FILM & MEDIA and the Czech company Fulfilm, in the first half of 2019. The project is coproduced by the Czech Television, Slovakia’s RTVS, UN FILM and FULLHOUSE Production Group, as well as Barrandov Studios. The premiere is set for the autumn of 2020.
Two big animated projects were in production in 2019, White Plastic Sky / Umelohmotné nebo, a scifi drama directed by Tibor Bánóczki and Sarolta Szabó, and produced by Slovakia‘s Artichoke and Hungary’s Salto Film, as well as the big budget animated debut by Peter Budinský, Heart of a Tower / Srdce veže produced by BFILM and coproduced by Slovak company Plutoon, Belgian Stacka, Czech BFILM.cz and Slovak RTVS .
Among the projects that registered for incentives in 2019 are the Slovak majority coproductions: Servants / Služobníci aka Disciple directed by Ivan Ostrochovský and produced by Punkchart films in coproduction with the Slovak RTVS, Romania’s Point Film, Negativ from the Czech Republic, Ireland’s Film & Music Entertainment, Slovak LEV Design and sentimentalfilm; The Nightsiren / Svetlonoc directed by Tereza Nvotová and produced by BFILM in coproduction with Czech moloko film; Power / Moc directed by Mátyás Prikler, produced by MPhilms and coproduced by Hungarian Proton Cinema, Czech Negativ and RTVS; Piargy / Fašiangy directed by Ivo Trajkov, produced by ARINA and coproduced by Czech i/o post, Macedonian Story Scope Production and RTVS; Little Kingdom / Malá ríša directed by Peter Magát, produced by FilmFrame, coproduced by RTVS, Iceland´s Loki Films production and Czech UP&UP; Chambermaid / Slúžka directed by Mariana Čengel Solčanská, produced by Bright Sight Pictures and coproduced by RTVS and CINEART TV Prague.
The historical drama Il Boemo directed by Petr Václav and coproduced by Czech Mimesis film, Slovakia´s sentimentalfilm, France´s Les Films D´ici and Italy´s Dugong, also applied for cash rebates.
A total of 43 domestic films (27 feature films, 14 documentaries and two animated films) were released in Slovakia in 2019, of which 13 were 100% Slovak productions, 11 majority coproductions and 19 minority coproductions.
Continental Film, a big distributor of mostly Hollywood productions, was the leader in distributing domestic titles in 2019 with three 100% Slovak productions: The Rift / Trhlina directed by Peter Bebjak, produced by D.N.A. Production in coproduction with TV JOJ; Casino.$k directed by Ján Sabol and produced by Art4fun in coproduction with Home Media Production and Rebuy stars; and The New Year´s Kiss / Šťastný nový rok directed by Jakub Kroner and produced by INOUT Studio.
Continental Film also released the Slovak majority coproductions: By a Sharp Knife / Ostrým nožom directed by Teodor Kuhn, produced by nutprodukcia in coproduction with RTVS and Czech nutprodukce; Amnesty / Amnestie directed by Jonáš Karásek, produced by Hečko’s AZYL Production and coproduced by Slovak HomeMedia Production, RTVS and Czech endorfilm; and The Good Death / Dobrá smrť directed by Tomáš Krupa, produced by Hailstone, in coproduction with Czech MasterFilm, Austrian Golden Girls Film, RTVS, French ARTE G.E.I.E. and the Czech Television. In 2019 Continental Film also released five minority coproductions.
The Association of Slovak Film Clubs (ASFK) released the following 100% Slovak productions: Calling / Volanie directed by Erik Praus and produced by Filmpark production in coproduction with RTVS and Filmworx Studios; Svetozár Stračina directed by Pavol Barabáš and produced by K2 studio in coproduction with RTVS and the Slovak Film Institute; The Lonely Runners: Moving On! / Osamelí bežci: Ideme ďalej! directed by Martin Repka and produced by Punkchart films in coproduction with RTVS and the Slovak Film Institute.
ASFK also released majority coproductions: Punk Never Ends / Punk je hned! directed by Juraj Šlauka and produced by Punkchart films in coproduction with i/o post, FTF VŠMU, Filmpark production, Admiral Films and kaleidoscope; and Let There Be Light / Nech je svetlo directed by Marko Škop and produced by Artileria in coproduction with Negativ , RTVS and the Czech Television. ASFK also released two Slovak minority coproductions.
Small but progressive-thinking distributor Filmtopia released five Slovak films, including three minority coproductions, as well as the 100% Slovak production Lost Home / Stratený domov directed by Juraj Mravec Jr. and produced by All4films in coproduction with Punkchart films and RTVS, and the Slovak majority production Silent Days / Hluché dni directed by Pavol Pekarčík and produced by partizanfilm in coproduction with RTVS, kaleidoscope and Czech školfilm.
Other distribution companies that also released domestic titles in 2019 are Magic Box Slovakia, Forum Film, Virus film, CinemArt SK, Garfield film, Cinetype, Bontonfilm, Itafilm, Filmpark production and MEDIA FILM.
Some of the Slovak films that premiered internationally are scheduled to be released in domestic distribution in the early months of 2020. The list includes FREM directed by Viera Čákanyová and produced by Hypermarket Film in coproduction with Punkchart films and the Czech Television; Paradise on Earth / Raj na zemi directed by Jaro Vojtek and produced by MPhilms and coproduced by RTVS; Cook, F**k, Kill / Žaby bez jazyka directed by Mira Fornay and produced by CINEART TV Prague in coproduction with RTVS, the Czech Television, Synergia film and MIRAFOX; Pardon / Ułaskawienie by Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski, a coproduction between Poland’s Wytwórnia Doświadczalna, Centrala, Czech Mimesis Film, Slovak sentimentalfilm and Polish Telewizja Polska, Odra Film, Podkarpacki Fundusz Regionalny, EC1 Łódź – Miasto Kultury, Centrum Technologii Audiowizualnych (Wrocław), Wojewódzki Dom Kultury (Rzeszów); as well as Old-Timers / Staříci directed by Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník, and produced by endorfilm in coproduction with sentimentalfilm and the Czech Television.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
By the end of 2019, Slovakia had 170 cinemas with 271 screens, of which 197 screens were already digitalised. They include four multiplexes, 21 miniplexes, 26 open air cinemas (six of them digitalised), 1 travelling theatre, 1 drive-in and 17 alternative spaces with 18 screens.
Compared to 2018, the number of cinemas increased from 153 to 170 and the number of digitalised screens increased from 196 to 197. Slovakia also has one IMAX cinema, which was opened in 2015.
Several small art house cinemas operate in Bratislava. Kino Lumière has been operated by the Slovak Film Institute on the site of the former Charlie’s Centrum since September 2011. Mladosť, Nostalgia and Film Europe Cinema also add to the diversity of Bratislava's art house landscape, together with Kino Klap, located in the Academy of Performing Arts, Foajé and Kino inak, a screening room hosted by the alternative cultural centre A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture.
In 2019 the Slovak Audiovisual Fund supported 25 cinemas with a total amount of 157,150 EUR through a programme focused on support of 1 EUR for each admission to a Slovak film, including minority coproductions (0.50 EUR for a film of more than 100,000 total admissions). The programme was launched in 2016. Every cinema has the right to apply.
Total admissions were 6,529,320 in 2019, an increase of 9.46%. Total gross increased by 12.76% compared to 2018, according to official statistics.
In 2019, admissions to Slovak films were 1,075,129.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
The Slovak Audiovisual Fund has been the main tool of public support for cinema in the Slovak Republic since 2010. The budget of the AVF is subsidised with at least 6 m EUR annually from the country’s budget and by the contributions of other subjects, like TV channels, cinemas and distributors.
In 2019, the Slovak Audiovisual Fund registered 534 applications for audiovisual culture support, of which 345 (64.6%) were supported with a total amount of 10.7 m EUR.
Slovakia’s 20% incentive scheme established in 2015 eased its requirements starting August 2017. In 2019 the Fund supported 12 projects with a total amount of 970,457 EUR. The minimum sum of expenses is at least 300,000 EUR for feature TV series and 150,000 EUR for feature films, documentaries, animated series.
The cash rebate support of audiovisual industry has a separate budget according to presumable expenses of registered projects (there is no maximum limit of the budget for audiovisual industry support). The budget estimate for this support for 2020 is 7.5 m EUR.
In 2019 the Fund registered 30 projects with an estimated production spending of 27.5 m EUR during 2019, 2020 and 2021.
In September 2019, new amendments to the Audiovisual Law were approved, so film incentives in Slovakia increased from 20% to 33% starting 1 January 2020.
In accord with the Slovak Audiovisual Fund (AVF) Act’s amendment of 2017, the Slovak Film Commission was established as a unit of the AVF. The Commission’s aim is to promote the Slovak film industry, to mediate creative business opportunities for Slovak audiovisual professionals and to present related services and individual regions of Slovakia. On 1 June 2018, Zuzana Bieliková was appointed manager of the SFC.
In structures of audiovisual film support for 2020, the maximum amount of support for one project, comparing to 2019, increased for projects in development from 30,000 EUR to 50,000 EUR, and decreased for festival support from 300,000 down to 250,000 EUR. For minority productions the support decreased from 300,000 EUR to 200,000 EUR.
The primary sources of information on films are the Slovak Film Institute through its specialised office – the Audiovisual Information Centre.
Slovakia is unique in the CEE as the home of the only channel devoted exclusively to European films. Film Europe Channel was developed by Film Europe Media Company, which operates two more channels: Československo HD, dedicated to Czech and Slovak cinema, and Be2Can HD, which was called Festival HD till November 2018, for films from A-list festivals.
The channel operates in Slovakia along with the public broadcaster RTVS and commercial broadcasters Slovenská produkčná (with channels: TV JOJ, PLUS, WAU, JOJ Cinema, Jojko, JOJ Family), Markiza Slovakia (with channels: TV Markíza, TV Doma, Dajto), the news channel TA3 (by C.E.N.), children channel ducktv (by Mega Max Media) and religious channel TV Lux.
The public broadcaster RTVS opened its third channel 3 in December 2019.
The epic historical TV series Slavs / Slovania, a big Slovak/Ukrainian TV project directed by Peter Bebjak, Michal Blaško, Serhii Sanin and Oleg Stakhursky, finished production in October 2019. This coproduction between Wanda Hrycová´s Wandal Production and Andrey Yermak´s European Partnership Media Group is expected to start broadcasting in September 2020.
Report by Zuzana Točíková Vojteková (2020) Sources: the Slovak Film Institute, the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Union of Film Distributors of the Slovak Republic