Year 2018 proved not to be as successful for the Slovak cinema as the extraordinary year of 2017, as it saw a decline in general box office as well as the box office for domestic films.
However, the expectations are high for 2019 as multiple high-profile productions are expected to be released.
Thirty projects registered for the 20% cash rebate at the Slovak Audiovisual Fund in 2018, compared to 12 in 2017 and 4 in 2016.
In 2018, the Slovak Film Commission headed by Zuzana Bieliková started to operate.
A total of 18 feature films (including 11 minority coproductions), 15 documentaries (including three minority coproductions) and two animated films were completed in 2018.
Multiple high-profile projects were in production in 2018, and some of them are expected to premiere in 2019.
FIPRESCI award-winner from the Toronto IFF, Marko Škop shot his new feature film Let There Be Light / Nech je svetlo in 2018. The film is a Slovak/Czech coproduction from Artileria and Negativ.
Ivan Ostrochovský’s new feature film The Disciple / Posol was in postproduction at the beginning of 2019. The film is produced by Punkchart films in coproduction with the Slovak RTVS, Romania’s Point Film, Negativ from the Czech Republic and Ireland’s Fame & Music Entertainment.
Mira Fornay’s follow-up to her Tiger Award winner My Dog Killer / Môj pes Killer, entitled Cook, Fuck, Kill / Žaby bez jazyka is expected to be completed in 2019. The film is produced by CINEART TV Prague and coproduced by MIRAFOX, RTVS and the Czech Television.
The award winning director Peter Bebjak was shooting the WWII drama The Report / Správa, a coproduction between Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland, at the beginning of 2019. The film is produced by Bebjak’s company D.N.A. and coproduced by Evolution Films, RTVS, Agresywna Banda and German Ostlicht Produktion.
Mátyás Prikler was shooting his sophomore feature Power / Moc at the beginning of 2019. Slovakia‘s MPhilms is producing in coproduction with Negativ from the Czech Republic and Hungary's Proton Cinema.
The successful documentary director/producer Peter Kerekes was also shooting his first feature Censor / Cenzorka, produced by Punkchart films and coproduced by endorfilm, Peter Kerekes and Ukrainian Arthouse Traffic, at the beginning of 2019.
Robert Kirchhoff is expected to finish his Alexander Dubček doc All Men Become Brothers / Všetci ľudia budú bratia by the end of 2019. All Men Become Brothers is produced by Kirchhoff’s atelier.doc and coproduced by Czech endorfilm, RTVS and the Czech Television.
To coincide with the 100th anniversary of the death of Milan Rastislav Štefánik, a general and important politician of the early 20th century, RTVS is coproducing three films on Štefánik, including the big budget production General / Generál, directed by Jerôme Cornau, produced by JMB Film & TV Production and also coproduced by the Czech Television.
The other two projects coproduced by RTVS are the animated docudrama The Impossible Voyage / Cesta do nemožna by Noro Držiak produced by MEDIA FILM and KABOS Film & Media and coproduced by TOBOGANG and the Czech Television, and the adventure TV series Monument / Mohyla by Andrej Kolenčík produced by Cinetype.
Slovakia’s 20% incentive scheme established in 2015 eased its requirements in August 2017. The minimum expenditure level was cut from 2 m EUR to 150,000 EUR for a single feature, documentary or animated film (minimum length of 70 minutes), and to 300,000 EUR for a project involving at least two such films or a television series (maximum 13 episodes of minimum 40 minutes in case of fiction and minimum of 50 minutes in case documentaries and animation).
Among the projects that registered for incentives in 2018 there are Slovak majority coproductions Muž so zajačími ušami directed by Martin Šulík and produced by Titanic production in coproduction with IN Film Praha,, Peter Bebjak’s projects The Report / Správa and the three-part mini-series-turned-feature The Rift / Trhlina, produced by D.N.A. Production and TV JOJ..
Flickering Ghosts of Love Gone by / Láska z celuloidu by French director André Bonzel and coproduced by Slovakia’s Artichoke, France’s Les artistes associaux, Les Films du Poisson, HBO Central Europe and the Slovak Film Institute, also applied for incentives in 2018.
Among the minority coproductions that applied for rebates in 2018 there are the long animated film Even Mice Belong in Heaven / Myši patří do nebe directed by Denisa Grimmová and Jan Bubeníček and coproduced by Czech Fresh Films, France’s Les Films du Cygne, Poland’s Animoon, Slovakia’s CinemArt SK and Belgium’s Panache Productions, and also Pardon / Ułaskawienie by Polish director Jan Jakub Kolski, a coproduction between Poland’s Wytwórnia Doświadczalna, Centrala, Czech Mimesis Film, Slovakia‘s sentimentalfilm and Poland‘s Telewizja Polska, Odra Film, Podkarpacki Fundusz Regionalny, EC1 Łódź – Miasto Kultury, Centrum Technologii Audiowizualnych (Wrocław), Wojewódzki Dom Kultury (Rzeszów).
A total of 32 long and mid-length Slovak films entered domestic distribution in 2018, plus two short animated films. Of the 32 films, 13 were feature films (including eight minority coproductions), 16 were documentaries (including three minority coproductions) and three were animated films.
The leader in the distribution of Slovak films is the Association of Slovak Film Clubs (ASFK), which released seven majority coproductions in 2018, all of them documentaries: Patrik Lančarič’s Válek produced by BEETLE and coproduced by Punkchart films, the Slovak Film Institute and RTVS; Marek Kuboš’s The Last Self-Portrait / Posledný autoportrét produced by his PSYCHÉ Film and coproduced by RTVS; Spirit of Jaguar / Tieň jaguára by Pavol Barabáš, produced by his K2 studio in coproduction with RTVS; ELSEWHERE / INDE by Juraj Nvota and Marian Urban, produced by ALEF FILM & MEDIA and coproduced by RTVS, Ateliéry Bonton Zlín, UN FILM, Filmpark production, Czech Fulfilm and the Slovak Film Institute; Adam Hanuljak’s Crazy Against the Nation / Prípad Kalmus produced by Mandala Pictures and coproduced by DogDocs and RTVS; Dežo Ursiny 70 by Maroš Šlapeta and Matej Beneš, produced by Punkchart films and coproduced by RTVS, the minority coproduction Freedom / Freiheit by German director Jan Speckenbach, produced by German ONE TWO FILMS and coproduced by Slovak BFILM and German ZAK Film Production, and also a documentary series Female First / Prvá by various directors, produced by HITCHHIKER Cinema in coproduction with RTVS and the Slovak Film Institute. The series of 10 mid-length documentaries was considered as one title by the Union of Film Distributors of the Slovak Republic.
Small and progressive-thinking Filmtopia released five Slovak films, including two majority coproductions - Peter Kerekes’ omnibus project Occupation 1968 / Okupácia 1968 produced by Peter Kerekes and coproduced by Czech Hypermarket Film, Bulgaria’s Agitprop, Poland’s Silver Frame and Hungary’s ELF Pictures, and An Extra Something / Niečo naviac by Palo Kadlečík and Martin Šenc, produced by KADMEDIA and OZ UP-Down syndrome.
Filmtopia also released three minority coproductions: a Rotterdam-entry The Flower Shop / La fleurière by Ruben Desiere, produced by Belgian Accatone Films and coproduced by Slovak Mandala Pictures, Belgian Beursschouwburg and Popiul and Slovak RTVS; My Unknown Soldier / Můj neznámý vojín by Anna Kryvenko, produced by Czech Analog Vision and coproduced by Latvian Baltic Pine Films and Slovak Wandal Production, and also Circus Rwanda / Cirkus Rwanda by Michal Varga, a coproduction between Czech Xova Film, the Czech Television, Slovak nutprodukcia and RTVS.
Other notable films in distribution were The Cellar / Pivnica directed by Russian Igor Voloshin, starring Jean-Marc Barr and distributed by Itafilm; Martin Šulík’s The Interpreter / Tlmočník, starring Peter Simonischek and Jiří Menzel and distributed by Garfield Film, and Jan Švankmajer’s last film Insects / Hmyz, distributed by Slovak coproducer PubRes.
Some of the Slovak films that premiered internationally are scheduled to be released in domestic distribution in the early months of 2019. The list includes Karlovy Vary awarded Winter Flies / Všechno bude by Olmo Omerzu, Talks With TGM / Hovory s TGM by Jakub Červenka, a coproduction between Bedna Films and Slovak FANTOMAS PRODUCTION, which was awarded a Special Mention at IDFF Ji.hlava, and also a IDFF Ji.hlava entry THE GOOD DEATH / DOBRÁ SMRŤ by Tomáš Krupa, a coproduction between Slovakia’s Hailstone, Czech MasterFilm, France’s ARTE G.E.I.E., Austria’s Golden Girls Film, Slovakia’s RTVS and the Czech Television.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
By the end of 2018, Slovakia had 153 cinemas with 254 screens, of which 196 screens were already digitalised. They include four multiplexes, 21 mini-plexes, 22 open air cinemas (five of them digitalised) and nine alternative spaces.
Compared to 2017, the number of cinemas increased from 149 to 153 and the number of digitalised screens increased from 189 to 195. Slovakia also has one IMAX cinema, which was opened in 2015.
Several small art house cinemas operate in Bratislava. Kino Lumière, operated by the Slovak Film Institute, opened on the site of the former Charlie’s Centrum in 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.
A new programme of support for Slovak films in domestic cinemas was launched in 2016. Every cinema has the right to apply and receive one euro per each ticket sold for a domestic title. In 2016 the AVF allotted 217,488 EUR for 2015 and in 2017 it allotted 188,048 EUR for 2016. Due to the rapid increase of admissions in 2017, AVF had to change the regulations for 2018 and ended up allotting 538,478 EUR.
Total admissions through November 2018 were 5,471,091 compared to 6,692,871 in 2017. Total gross was 30,318,033 EUR compared to 34,513,049 EUR in 2017.
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 contributions of other subjects like the TV, cinemas and distributors. A total of 8 m EUR were allocated for the support in 2018 and the same amount is expected in 2019.
Slovakia’s 20% incentive scheme established in 2015 eased its requirements starting August 2017. The minimum expenditure level was cut from 2 m EUR to 150,000 EUR for a single feature, documentary or animated film (minimum length of 70 minutes) and to 300,000 EUR for a project involving at least two such films or a television series (maximum 13 episodes of minimum 40 minutes in case of fiction and minimum of 50 minutes in case documentaries and animation). This scheme has a separate budget according to presumable expenses of registered projects (there is no maximum limit on the budget for audiovisual industry support). In 2018, the AVF registered 30 projects for audiovisual industry support. For 2019 the budget estimate for this support is 4.7 m EUR.
In accord with the Slovak Audiovisual Fund Act’s amendment of 2017, the Slovak Film Commission was established as a unit of the AVF. The Commission’s aim is to promote 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 September 2018 minor changes in AVF’s regulations came into action. The beneficiaries can use up to 7% for overhead costs now and sanctions for mishandling the support were also amended.
A funding scheme of the Bratislava Self-Governing Region was launched in 2015 to support the culture in the region. However, 2018 was the last year when projects related to cinema were eligible. In 2018 the scheme supported the development, production and postproduction of nine films and two documentary series including, The Disciple / Posol by Ivan Ostrochovský, Peter Kerekes’ omnibus project Occupation 1968 / Okupácia 1968, produced by Peter Kerekes and coproduced by Czech Hypermarket Film, Bulgarian Agitprop, Polish Silver Frame and Hungarian ELF Pictures, By a Sharp Knife / Ostrým nožom by Teodor Kuhn, Reborn directed by Iveta Grófová and produced by Hulapa film, and Konšpirácia ticha directed by Robert Kirchhoff and produced by atelier.doc..
The primary sources of information on films are the Slovak Film Institute, which celebrated its 55th anniversary in 2018, and the National Cinematographic Centre, 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, RiK, Ťuki TV, 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.
SLOVAK FILM INSTITUTE General Director: Peter Dubecký Phone: +421 2 5710 1503 Fax: +421 2 5296 3461
Report by Tomáš Hudák (2019) Sources: the Slovak Film Institute, the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Union of Film Distributors of the Slovak Republic