FNE: What was the most important development in Slovak film industry over the past year?
Martin Šmatlák: The main change is the creation of the Audiovisual Fund on 1 January 2009, after 18 years of different proposals, mainly due to the personal initiative of Culture Minister Marek Maďarič and several other representatives from the audiovisual field.
Under the new law the Audiovisual Fund will decide on the support of the audiovisual culture and industry public funding sources.
It has also created conditions to extend the funding, and it laid the foundations for more efficient and flexible way to promote the film culture and industry. This has been a year of preparation with the Fund due to start its activity as of the beginning of 2010. The fund will support the development, production and distribution of audiovisual works for cinemas, televisions and new forms of distribution, as well as educational films, festivals and other events, such as educational, editorial and research activities and also technology development. Technology development is in the first year is focused on the modernization of cinemas.
I am pleased with the success of Slovak films at festivals and events abroad, in particular with documentaries. Creativity is already underway and the conditions for its continued development should improve, not only financially but also technologically.
FNE: How important are European co-productions for the development of the Slovak film industry and what opportunities do you see for cooperation with neighboring countries in film production, education and distribution?
MS: Slovak cinematography could not have survived during the last 15 years without European coproductions, especially film productions for cinema. Naturally most coproductions are with the Czech Republic, which is historically, culturally and linguistically nearest. European coproductions accounted in recent years for 75% of all Slovak full-length feature films.
The Czech Republic also has a functioning infrastructure and technologies for film production. The weakest point of the film environment in Slovakia is the decline in the technology level and in infrastructure for the film production over the past 20 years. There are no film laboratories here, the camera and lighting equipment supply for 35mm films is rather limited, and there is not a single studio for modern digital audio production. The development of cinema and its digitization is also lagging behind. Without that, big films cannot be produced in Slovakia and foreign producers do not come here. We still participate in coproductions, but we would like to play the role of an active and equal partner.
FNE: What is the role of film in Slovak cultural identity?
MS: Slovak film became a fully-valued part of the country's cultural context only since the beginning of the 1960's. Slovak film grew to achieve an equal position with other forms of art and with Czech film during the "new wave". This was when increased public interest in Slovak film became a means of expressing cultural identity.
After November 1989, the continuity of Slovak film was interrupted and was in crisis. This was also reflected in the relationship of the Slovak audience to Slovak film. The average annual share of Slovak films in cinemas by total attendance fell below 5%. In 2006 it fell below one percent.
Over the last two years, this negative trend reversed significantly and more Slovak viewers are attending Slovak films. It is important to maintain this tread because film and audiovisual production is a natural and spontaneous expression of what we might call the cultural identity.
In terms of preserving and developing cultural identity through film it is also important to ensure the systematic protection of the film heritage and make it available through new technologies. In 2006 the Slovak government approved a long-term project for the systematic protection of the audiovisual heritage, through the maintenance and restoration of the film heritage and its accessibility.
FNE: How does the recognition of Slovak film internationally promote not only your country's film but also Slovakia as a country?
MS: Film is an effective tool for the international presentation of culture and country. The creative potential of Slovak film is undeniable; but how it is presented is important. We can not just rely on the fact that someone will "discover" us; on the contrary, we must be capable of presenting and promoting ourselves.
The Slovak Film Institute, the Slovak Audiovisual Producers Association, and the Slovak Film and Television Academy do a lot in this direction. It is necessary to combine these efforts and to focus on continual and professional "film promotion" as an instrument for presenting films, producers, producer organizations and the country as a whole.
FNE: Looking back over the past five years what are the major achievements and what do you consider still needs to be done?
MS: On the positive side: ensuring the legislative framework and financial resources for the support of the audiovisual sector, stopping the frightening decline of film production, the increase in audiovisual production, especially in television, the international success of Slovak films, increasing the number of viewers of Slovak films, the protection of audiovisual heritage.
On the opposite side: development of technology, raising funds for audiovisual and film production, better professional training for audiovisual professionals, modernization and digitalization of cinemas, international marketing and promotion of Slovak films, the development of audiovisual education at schools and long-term and systematic activity that will lead to strengthening the positive image and awareness of Slovak film and its historical and cultural value.
Doc. PhDr. Martin Šmatlák (1961) graduated from the Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in Bratislava. Throughout his professional career he has been active in the Slovak audiovisual industry as: the general manager of the Slovak Film Institute; pedagogue at VSMU - Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts; vice-rector and vice-dean for Film and TV at VSMU; strategic director and member of crisis management at Slovak Television; general director of media and audiovisual at the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic; and member of the working group for the law on the Audiovisual Fund that went into the effect as of January 1, 2009.
He is one of the establishing members of the Slovak Film and Television Academy and a founding members of the first film festival in Bratislava after 1989.
On November 5, 2008, Act 516/2008 Coll. on the Audiovisual Fund and the Amendment of Certain Acts was adopted, which went into effect on January 1, 2009.
In practical terms, this meant funding by the Ministry of Culture was handed over to the newly established and independent AudioVisual Fund.
" The Ministry of Culture will be from now on just one of the supporters of the audiovisual industry. The fund will be an independent institution," said Anton Škreko, the director of Audiovisual programme at the Ministry of Culture.
During the year-long transition phase, Nataša Slavikova, the general director at the department of Media, Audiovision and Copyright said that 4 179 450 Euro was granted to 104 projects out of 170 that applied for the grants. The previous year 4 271 626 Euros were granted. From January 1, 2010 the subsidies will be granted by Audiovisual Fund.
The largest grants went to Peter Kristufek's Visible world with a 410 000 Euro grant and Stanislav Pamicky's Cherrie Boy with 380 000 Euro grant were the most granted films by the Audiovision in the year 2009. Both will be produced by JMB Film and TV production (http://www.jmbfilm.sk/).
The new Audiovisual Fund is composed of six commissions:
Education and Research
Development of Technologies
Members will be announced on 25 November.
First call opens on 30 November 2009. Deadlines for submitting the applications are 15.12.2009, 1.3.2010 and 1.9.2010.
Website www.avf.sk under construction. Information on Audiovisual Fund on the website of the Ministry of Culture the www.culture.gov.sk.
While commercial Slovak television, led by CME's Markiza TV (www.markiza.sk), has seen a dramatic downturn in advertising revenues due to the global economic crisis in 2009, the Slovak film industry has so far been unaffected.
Subsidies from Audiovisual programme at the Ministry of Culture were comparable to 2008 (4.3 million Euro in 2008 and 4.2 million Euro in 2008). Banks have been cautious in extending credit generally. Zuzana Mistrikova, executive vice-president of the Slovak Film and Television Academy (www.sfta.sk) told FNE, "Except for Bathory, banks are not lending money to film producers at all."
Alexandra Strelkova, director of the National Cinematographic Centre (www.sfu.sk), told FNE, "Bank credits for film companies are not standard in the Slovak film industry."
Mistrikova warns, "The first contributions from television broadcasters, cable operators, cinema entrepreneurs and film distributors to the new Audivisual Fund will be in 2010. Revenue from TV advertising has decreased because of the financial crisis so their contributions to the fund will not probably reach the levels expected a year ago," Mistrikova said.
Slovaks have cut back their spending generally in 2009 but surprisingly the Slovak box office experienced a very good year. During the first seven months there were 2.35 million admissions compared with 1.75 million for the same period in 2008, a 34% increase, according to the Slovak Union of Distributors (www.ufd.sk). Among the box office hits was the Slovak film Soul at Peace directed by Vladimir Balko and produced by Forza Production House (www.forza.sk), which premiered in January and had 115,000 admissions.
The so called "Bathory effect" caused an increased interest in Slovak films that result in notably higher attendance than in the past.
The winners of the awards of 11th Animated Film Festival ANIMATED DREAMS were announced on Saturday, 21 November at the award ceremony in Sõprus Cinema.
When: 26-27 November 2009 WarsawWhere: Krakowskie Przedmiescie 7
What is it About??
Development of civil society and cultural cooperation through creating an ongoing platform for cooperation between film culture journalists and students and professionals in the Vsisegrad (V4) countries. The Forum will create a dialogue between V4 countries and encourage cooperation, coproduction and joint distribution of films between V4 countries.
Explore how V4 films can be a vehicle for cross border cooperation and promotion of V4 countries internationally. Explore the relationship between film and media and to provide the platform for the launch for the FNE Visegrad Prize for Best Central European.
Who should attend??
Journalists and student journalists who are interested in film and its interaction with media
Film producers, directors, festival directors and other film professionals who are interested in the role media plays in cultural identity and its interaction with film both culturally and commercially.
Filmmakers will have a chance to discuss and learn how best to interact with the media to achieve their goals.
Film journalists will have the chance to meet and interview filmmakers and decision makers from other V4 countries outside their home country and broaden the base of their understanding of regional cooperation in culture.
Bring together film journalists for training on how to recognize economic and cultural benefits of film production
Meet with experts in regional film production
Discuss issues of promotion and media
Registration From: Participation is Free of Charge but you have to Register:
Advance Registration Information:
(Journalist, Student Journalist, Film Critic, Academic, Film Producer, Director, Scriptwriter, Film Promotion, Etc.)
Forum participation is free and includes all coffee breaks, breakfasts and lunches as well as festival cocktail on Thursday evening.
A limited number of registrations will also be accepted on the day of the forum provided space is available. To avoid disappointment and secure your place register online NOW !!
Forum participants will also be accredited to both the Art of the Doc and Euroshorts film festivals which are running concurrently to the forum and will have free admission to all festival screenings.
Participants will also have admission to the Art of the Doc festival club Club Kamieniołomy.
Registration and Networking Breakfast
Speaker: Discussion panel:
Jana Kadlecova/ David Dercsenyi
Media View from Visegrad neighbours: Slovakia and Hungary
The Role of Festivals in International Promotion of Film:
Aleksandra Biernacka: The Role of Film Festivals in the international Promotion of Films
Biernacka is head of international festivals relations for Polish pubcaster TVP
Lunch break and networking
Workshop on how to write for the film industry: First Session
Meils who is a former bureau chief for Variety in Prague and presently new editor for Film New Europe will be conducting a practical experience workshop with film journalists who will have the chance to have their work critiqued by Ms Meils and other participants on the second day of the Forum. Participants will also have their work published on FNE.
Discussion group led by Anna Franklin general director of FNE
Launch of the FNE Visegrad Prix for Best Central European Film. Do we need another film prize???
What should be the role of festivals and prizes in extending the cultural identity of the countries the films represent and forging a cross border cultural identity??
Happy Hour Cocktail and networking session:
Pub Plotka Café, Krakowskie Przedmieście 7
Participants have access to Art of the Doc screenings at nearby cinemas. See http://www.sztukadokumentu.pl/ for schedule.
Participants will have access to Euroshorts screenings and events throughout the Forum. http://www.euroshorts.pl/ for schedule
Where: Dom Spotkan z Historia, Karowa 20 (near Krakowskie Przedmieście)
Student and journalist workshop participants will attend screening of SOLIDARNOŚĆ, JAK ZRYWALIŚMY ŻELAZNĄ KURTYNĘ PL, 2000, 63' (pl - en)
Q&A with dir. Krystyna Mokrosińska prod. Mirosław Chojecki, Piotr Weychert
Q&A with dir. Wojciech Maciejewski followed by screening of SŁONECZNA GROMADA PL, 1983, 18' (pl)
22:00 until late
Forum Participants will have to opportunity to visit the Art of the Doc Festival Club at Klub Kamieniolomy Ossolińskich 7 (near Krakowskie Przedmieście)
Release of CEE regional coproductions across borders: Is there a CEE regional identity?? A pan-regional hero such as Janosik?? What is the common denominator?? How do releases have to be tailored for different countries??
Marta Lamperova:Managing Director Film Media
Janosik Case Study/ Presentation Applefilm: Violetta Kaminska
Short films and documentaries:
Daruisz Kowalski General Director of Ragusa Film and Director of Boat Doc Film Festival: Poland
Discussions of cooperation between neighbouring countries on production of shorts and documentaries. The importance of film prizes and the media especially in support of documentaries.
Workshop on how to write for the film industry: Second Session
Closing remarks and summing up of Forum conclusions: Anna
Finish of Forum
The Baltic Event Co-Production Market celebrates its 5th Anniversary from November 29 - December 2, 2009 in Tallinn, Estonia.
We are honoured to inform, that film "GLASS TRAP" directed by Paweł Ferdek is a European Film Award Short Film Nominee (http://www.glasstrap.pl/)
joint agreement initiated
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