FNE 2011 Visegrad Special: Slovak Coproductions

By Dominika Uhríková

    BRATISLAVA: Slovak producers usually prefer to coproduce with partners in the Visegrad region. The Czech Republic has always been the most important coproduction country for Slovak filmmakers, followed by Poland and Hungary. This year was no exception, with Czech-Slovak coproductions accounting for eight of the 11 Slovak films released since the beginning of 2011.

     Among them was Gypsy, a €1,000,000 drama by Martin Šulík about a young Roma man who finds himself in a conflict with racial, social, and cultural prejudice and the unwritten laws of his own Roma community, which eventually drive him to a fatal action - the murder of a man. Coproduced by the director's own company Titanic, Slovak Television (www.stv.sk) and the Czech Republic's In Film (www.infilm.cz) owned by Slovak producer Rudolf Biermann, the film has already received several prizes in Europe and has been nominated as Slovakia's entry for the Academy Award as Best Foreign-Language Film.

    Another important Czech-Slovak coproduction was the documentary Nicky's Family, which is the sequel to director Matej Mináč's 2002 International Emmy award-winning film Nicholas Winton - The Power of Good about the saving of 669 Slovak and Czech children. The €1,300,000 feature was co-produced by Slovakia's Trigon Production (www.trigon-production.sk) and the Czech Republic's W.I.P. production company.

    Notable Czech-Slovak releases in 2011 also include Identity Card by Ondřej Trojan, budgeted at €1,400,000 and co-produced by PubRes (www.pubres.sk) and Total HelpArt (www.tha.cz); The House by young Slovak director Zuzana Liová, coproduced by Fog'n'Desire Films (www.fogndesirefilms.cz), Samastinor (www.samastinor.cz) and Sokol Kollár (www.kollarfilm.com); and The Matchmaking Mayor by Erika Hníková, budgeted at €235,000 and co-produced by UN FILM (www.unfilm.sk) and Endorfilm (www.endorfilm.cz).

    Out of the total of 17 movies to be released in Slovakia between October and December 2011, there will be only five international co-productions, out of which three will be Czech-Slovak coproductions (Jaroslav Vojtek's

    The Gypsies Go to Election, co-produced by Mandala Pictures (www.mandalapictures.eu) and Fog'n'Desire Films (www.fogndesirefilms.cz); Jakub Króner's Love, co-produced by Inoutstudio (www.inoutstudio.sk) and Evolution Films (www.evolutionfilms.cz); and Robert Kirchhoff's Normalisation, co-produced by Atelier.doc (www.atelierdoc.sk) and Hypermarket Film (www.hypermarketfilm.cz).

    There will also be one Czech-Slovak-Polish co-production, Confidant by Juraj Nvota, which is a coproduction from Attack Film (www.attackfilm.sk), Maxi Film TV, Czech Television (www.ceskatelevize.cz), and Apple Film Production (www.applefilm.pl). Based on a true story from the period of occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the movie has a budget of €1,780,000 and is intended for a domestic release in November 2011.

    The only Slovak movie involving a non-Visegrad partner to be released before the end of this year will be Alois Nebel, an animated full-length feature by Tomáš Luňák based on a graphic novel of the same title. The move is a coproduction from Slovakia's Tobogang (www.tobogang.com), Czech Republic's Czech Television (www.ceskatelevize.cz) and Negativ (www.negativ.cz), and Germany's Pallas Film (www.pallasfilm.com).

    The ratio of Czech-Slovak coproductions as compared to all coproductions will continue at roughly the same level in 2012. However, there are a few exceptions. Slovakia's PubRes (www.pubres.sk) will participate as a minority coproducer together with the Czech Republic's Bionaut Films (www.bionaut.cz) and Romania's Media Pro Pictures (www.mediapropictures.com) in A Strange Story, a €2,000,000 feature currently being developed by Václav Švankmajer. Tomáš Krnáč has found an Irish partner, Zanzibar Films (www.zanzibarfilms.net), for his self-produced €1,450,000 comedy/drama portraying a young musician struggling with life and love currently in production.

    The Slovak television industry has increased its development of coproductions recently. The public-service broadcaster, Slovak Television (www.stv.sk), has participated in several cross-border projects, but does not initiate them.

    TV Markíza (www.markiza.sk), Slovakia's leading broadcaster operated by Central European Media Enterprises (www.cetv-net.com), rarely engages in international cooproductions except when it comes to format shows, which are often coproduced with CME's Czech station TV Nova (www.nova.cz).

    TV JOJ usually follows the same policy as Markíza. However, this recently changed when its management announced earlier in 2011 that it would coproduce Maf Story Movie, a €2,000,000 feature by Vladislav Struhár and Ivan Huljak based on a popular sitcom produced by TV JOJ, thus joining a group of coproducers including the Czech-Slovak Farbyka Production (www.farbyka.sk), the Czech Republic's Barrandov Studio (www.barrandov.cz), and Slovakia's AVI Studio (www.avistudio.sk). It marks the first time that a Slovak private broadcaster has joined a major feature-film coproduction project.