New Minister of Culture wants more arts funding

By Cathy Meils in Ljubljana
    Slovenia's new minister of culture, former critic Majda Sirca Ravnikar, installed on November 26, indicated she will push for more EU funding to go into the arts, and filmmakers look set to benefit.

    Filmmakers are celebrating her appointment as an upturn for funding, which was stalemated or cut during the previous government. Ravnikar had been critical of her predecessor. The industry, which watched as film funding became politicized under the ousted government, is optimistic that the new minister may move for government regulations requiring televisions to support film financing.

    But even before the change of government, 2009 was shaping up to be the year to watch for new Slovenian production. The current year will likely emerge as a bizarre blip on the production scene; it was the year a Slovenian film broke box office records, and the year that a record number of Slovene productions were screened at the national film festival in Portoroz. However, the 2008 box office hit actually debuted in 2005, and the sudden increase in the number of films that turned out to be the result of transferring a crop of quickly and cheaply made digital movies on to film -- something of an artificial boost for production numbers.

    In fact, a delay in announcing 2007 grants (they were finally allocated only in December of that year) left serious producers unable to move forward with projects until 2008. As a result, films are just now being readied for delivery in 2009. They include Circus Fantasticus from Janez Burger (Idle Running) which went into rehearsals in October; Damjan Kozole's (Spare Parts) Slovenian Girl which is in post-production and hoping for a slot in Berlin; Janez Lapajne's (Short Circuits, 2006) Personal Baggage: and a new film from Igor Sterk (Express Express) that is in post-production.

    It looks like the beginning of an upswing for the Slovenes. In January, funding for 2009 projects is expected to be announced. With the expected financial shot boost, Slovenian filmmakers are poised to once more pick up the promise disrupted over the past two years.