“We are pleased to see that the festival is expanding. In addition to its home in Košice, this year’s edition is making a sojourn to Spišská Nová Ves with four screenings, which will serve as a testing ground for the festival’s potential further expansion into other towns of East Slovakia. Art Film Fest is the largest and most-frequented film festival in Slovakia, with a one-of-a-kind selection of international and Slovak cinema,” says the event’s artistic director, Peter Nágel.
Nágel’s mention of the latest cinematic releases is confirmed by Art Film Fest’s multiple premieres of titles never before screened. Among them is The Last Self-Portrait (2017), Slovak director Marek Kuboš’s unique confessional look at his own life, exploring the liminal space between documentary and fiction. The film is among those competing for the Blue Angel in the International Competition of Feature Films.
The International Competition of Short Films will include the premiere of the Slovak/Portuguese short Fight (2018). In it, director Eva Križková observes a fight between two people, Andrea and Joao, that appears to be their only way to achieve intimacy. The audience listens in on their thoughts about relationships and solitude, asking whether all of us fight against one another or at each other’s side.
An autograph signing with cast and crew will precede the premiere of Slovak/Czech thriller Intimate Enemy (2018) from director Karel Janák, screened as part of the section Slovak Season. Starring Vojtěch Dyk and Gabriela Marcinková, the film looks at what happens when an AI-equipped home begins to turn on, and even threaten, the young couple who occupy it.
The life of controversial mountaineer Pavel Pochylý is portrayed in the documentary The Spider (2018), also featured in the Slovak film section. Director Ľubomír Slivka captures the various facets of the complicated man, surrounded by myth and legend, who overcame all the Tatras' most significant challenges.
A premiere cinematic screening also awaits three episodes of the original television series Constructing Slovakia (2018), Bibiana Beňová’s look at Slovakia’s various industrial landmarks, including Jan Antonín Baťa’s footwear factory in Partizánske, the arms factory in Dubnica nad Váhom and Bratislava’s winter harbour.
In another festival exclusive, three episodes of the upcoming series Ex-Prime Ministers (2018) look at former Slovak leaders Milan Čič, Ján Čarnogurský, Mikuláš Dzurinda and their legacy from the perspectives of recent graduates of Bratislava's Academy of Performing Arts. In three of the series’s six auteur documentaries, the young filmmakers aim to offer a fresh, unencumbered view of these figures and their times. Art Film Fest’s audiences will have the unique opportunity to see these “works in progress” from a series that has yet to be completed.
The festival will also be awarding several distinguished filmmakers and performers. During the opening ceremony, the Golden Camera, recognizing filmmakers for their extraordinary contributions to international film, will go to director Agnieszka Holland, Golden Globe laureate and two-time Oscar nominee, as well as Russian director Alexei German Jr., winner of numerous awards at festival of note.
With the Actor's Mission Award, the festival acknowledges major figures of screen acting; this year's first recipient is Zuzana Mauréry, who will accept the award this Saturday, 16 June 2018. One week later, Art Film Fest will also present the award to Czech actress Ivana Chýlková.
The Festival President's Award will be granted to Fero Fenič – director, founder of the studio Febio and the film festival Febiofest, as well as a native of East Slovakia, specifically of Nižná Šebastová, not far from Prešov.
“I’m pleased that the 26th Art Film Fest will be recognizing these particular figures. These five distinguished filmmakers and actresses represent a variety of generations and means of expression, but their contributions to European cinema are impossible to ignore,” adds Peter Nágel.
Many more guests, an accompanying programme full of discussions, a talk show, exhibitions and concerts, and of course over 200 films – all this and more awaits at the 26th edition of Slovakia’s biggest film festival. In cooperation with Slovak Rail, there will also be a special cinema carriage screening selected films on trains from Bratislava to Košice and back. The cinema carriage will be running throughout the festival, its programme available for passengers to enjoy from Friday, 15 June to Saturday, 23 June 2018.