LJUBLJANA: Slovenian film production is stable and getting even stronger since a significant increase in film funding was achieved in 2019. The number of completed films was lower than in 2018, but more titles are expected to be completed in 2020.
Several foreign productions are being shot due to the 25% cash rebate scheme.
The Slovenian Film Centre (SFC) announced a new strategy for the next four years in November 2019. The implementation of a transparent and modern system, which will ensure a sustainable, functional and stable film environment, is the main strategic goal of the SFC.
In 2019 the SFC received 5.585 m EUR for film funding and other activities, which is 13 percent more compared to the 4.859 m EUR for 2018. Since the beginning of November 2018, the annual budget for film production has been gradually increased and it is expected to reach 11 m EUR by 2022.
Zoran Poznič was appointed new Minister of Culture of Slovenia on 8 March 2019.
According to estimations, cinema admissions dropped by around 10 percent in 2019, while the box office dropped by approximately 3 percent because of a more expensive ticket price.
Slovenian producers usually produce around 15 feature films and long documentaries per year. They are more and more focused on coproductions, especially with other ex-Yugoslavian countries. Foreign producers’ share in the investments in Slovenian majority projects has come close to a relatively high number of 30%.
In 2019 ten feature films, two documentaries and four Slovenian minority coproductions were completed. In 2020 fifteen films (nine feature films and six long documentaries) are expected to be completed. Five feature films (including one debut) and two documentaries are expected to start shooting in 2020.
The feature films completed in 2019 (excluding minority coproductions) are: Man with the Shadow / Človek s senco directed by Ema Kugler and produced by Zavod ZANK in coproduction with NuFrame, MB Grip, Zvokarna, VPK Studios and Big Heart Studio; I Am Frenk / Jaz sem Frenk directed by Metod Pevec and produced by Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenija, Backroom Production (Serbia), Interfilm (Croatia) and Small Moves Films (North Macedonia); Stories from the Chestnut Woods / Zgodbe iz kostanjevih gozdov directed by Gregor Božič and produced by Nosorogi in coproduction with Transmedia Production (Italy), Deutsche Film Und Fensehakademie Berlin (Germany) and RTV Slovenija; Oroslan directed by Matjaž Ivanišin and produced by Staragara in coproduction with I/O Post (Czech Republic), Film factory and SPOK; Corporation / Korporacija directed by Matej Nahtigal and produced by Lignit film in coproduction with Jaako Dobra Produkcija (Croatia), MB Grip, Zvokarna and RTV Slovenija; Half-Sister / Polsestra directed by Damjan Kozole and produced by Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenia, Sisters and Brother Mitevski (North Macedonia) and Baš Čelik (Serbia); All Against All / Vsi proti vsem directed by Andrej Košak and produced by Blade production in coproduction with MIND Production, Igralsko društvo Daiga, MOTION, RTV Slovenija and Studio Ritem; Don’t Forget to Breathe / Ne pozabi dihati directed by Martin Turk and produced by Bela film in coproduction with Quasar Multimedia (Italy), Studio Dim (Croatia), RAI Cinema (Italy) and RTV Slovenija; Let Him Be a Basketball Player 2 / Košarkar naj bo 2 directed by Boris Bezić and produced by Gustav Film in coproduction with RTV Slovenija, MB Grip, Studio Ritem, Unicasting and Art Rebel 9; and The Curse of Valburga / Prekletstvo Valburge directed by Tomaž Gorkič and produced by Strup Produkcija in coproduction with NuFrame, Sonolab, Supermarket production, MB Grip and Lepa žoga.
The long documentaries completed in 2019 (excluding minority coproductions) are: Daughter of Camorra / Hči Camorre directed by Siniša Gačić and produced by Studio Maj in coproduction with B/arts and Zavod Zuhr, and Pumpkin on the Hot Roof of the World / Buča na vroči strehi sveta directed by Nejc Saje and Jeffrey Young, and produced by Strup in coproduction with Pigeon Point and RTV Slovenija.
The following feature films (excluding minority coproductions) are expected to be completed in 2020: Orchestra / Orkester directed by Matevž Luzar and produced by Gustav Film; Once Were Humans / Nekoč so bili ljudje directed by Goran Vojnović and produced by Arsmedia in coproduction with 100, NuFrame, MB Grip and Apapaja (Italy); and Deadlock / Zastoj directed by Vinko Möderndorfer and produced by Forum Ljubljana in coproduction with Delirium (Serbia) and Sektor Film (North Macedonia); Sanremo directed by Miroslav Mandić and produced by Filmostovje in coproduction with RTV Slovenija and Quasar Multimedia (Italy); Riders / Jezdeca directed by Dominik Mencej and produced by Staragara in coproduction with Antitalent (Croatia), Novi Film (Bosnia & Herzegovina), SENSE Production (Serbia) and Transmedia (Italy); Inventory / Inventura directed by Darko Sinko and produced by December in coproduction with RTV Slovenija; Birdbreeder / Ptičar directed by Robert Črnelč and produced by Tramal films; Cent´anni directed by Maja Prelog and produced by Cvinger film in coproduction with Agresywna Banda (Poland), Zena film (Italy) and Zwinger film (Austria); and Man Without a Guilt / Mož brez krivde directed by Ivan Gergoet and produced by Staragara in coproduction with Transmedia (Italy).
The following long documentaries (excluding minority coproductions) are expected to be completed in 2020: Antigona - How Dare We! / Antigona – Kako si drznemo! directed by Jani Sever and produced by Sever & Sever in coproduction with RTV Slovenija; The Business of Revenge / Krvno maščevanje directed by Marija Zidar and produced by Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenija and Dera Film (Republic of Kosovo); Behind the Digital Curtain / Izza bitne zavese directed by Jurij Gruden and produced by Bela film in coproduction with RTV Slovenija and AVI film; Afganistanke na smučeh directed by Haidy Kancler and produced by Studio Virc in coproduction with Flair Film (Austria) and Kinocompany (Finland); and Farewell / Odpotovanje directed by Petra Seliškar and produced by Petra Pan Film in coproduction with Jana Cisar Filmproducktion (Germany).
The following feature films (excluding minority coproductions) are expected to start shooting in 2020: Skriti ljudje directed by Miha Hočevar and produced by Vertigo; Vesolje med nami directed by Rahela Jagrič Pirc and produced by Arsmedia in coproduction with MB Grip, Zvokarna and NuFrame; Grandpa Goes South / Dedek gre na jug directed by Vinci Vogue Anžlovar and produced by A Atalanta in coproduction with Sektor Film (North Macedonia); Zbudi me directed by Marko Šantić and produced by Vertigo; Vesna directed by Sara Kern and produced by Cvinger film in coproduction with Sweetshop & Green (Australia); and The Beanie / Kapa directed by Slobodan Maksimović and produced by Bela film in coproduction with Way Creative Films (Sweden), Studio Dim (Croatia), Bind (Netherlands) and This & That Productions (Serbia).
The following long documentaries (excluding minority coproductions) are expected to start shooting in 2020: Ganja Will Set You Free / Konoplja osvobaja directed by Miha Čelar and produced by Astral film in coporoduction with Wolfgang&Dolly (Croatia), Platforma (Serbia) and AWARD Film & Video (North Macedonia); and The Body / Telo directed by Petra Seliškar and produced by Petra Pan Film in coproduction with Serbia and North Macedonia.
The 25% cash rebate scheme shows the interest of foreign productions in Slovenia. In the last three years (2017-2019), since its implementation, foreign projects got total support of 1.2 m EUR, which means that 4.8 m EUR of revenues were generated by foreign production companies in Slovenia. One of the projects which benefited from the scheme in 2019 is the UK internet/TV fantasy series The Wheel of Time / Kolo časa directed by Uta Briesewitz and serviced by Pakt Media.
Twenty-one domestic films, including minority coproductions, were released in 2019, compared to 18 in 2018.
Eleven domestic films (seven feature films, four long documentaries) and eight Slovenian minority coproductions were screened at the annual showcase of Slovenian film, the 22nd Festival of Slovenian Film, which ran in Portorož from 17 to 22 September 2019.
Gregor Božič’s debut feature Stories from the Chestnut Woods won 11 Vesna awards and also the IRIDIUM award for first feature. The film won the Vesna Award for best film and it was also awarded for directing, acting (best actor), cinematography, music, editing, production design, costume design, make-up and sound. The film also won the Vesna Audience Award.
Siniša Gačič's Daughter of Cammora won the Vesna Award for best documentary, while the Macedonian/Belgian/Slovenian/French coproduction God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunija by Teona Strugar Mitevska won the Vesna Award for best minority coproduction and also the Slovenian Art Cinema Association Award. The film was produced by Sisters and Brother Mitevski (Macedonia) in coproduction with Spiritus movens (Croatia), Entre Chien et Loup (Belgium), Vertigo (Slovenia), Deuxième Ligne Films (France) and EZ Films (France).
The year 2019 was again very successful for the international recognition of Slovenian films. Oroslan directed by Matjaž Ivanišin was screened in the section Filmmakers of the Present (Concorso cineasti del Presente) at the Locarno FF, Half-Sister directed by Damjan Kozole was selected for the main competition programme at the 59th Karlovy Vary IFF, Stories from the Chestnut Woods was selected for the Discovery section at the Toronto IFF, as well as the Tallinn IFF, where it won best film in the First Feature Competition.
Matej Zemljič won the best actor award at the International Film Festival FEST Serbia for Darko Štante’s Consequences, produced by Filmsko društvo Temporama in coproduction with NuFrame, Zwinger Film and 100; and Miha Mazzini won the best script award at the Raindance International Film festival for Erased directed by Miha Mazzini and produced by Gustav Film in coproduction with Kinorama (Croatia), Delirium (Serbia) and Pakt Media.
The leading position among distributors in 2019 was held by Blitz Film & Video Distribution with 29% box office share, followed by Karantanija Cinemas with 27%, 2i Film with 23% and Con Film with 10%. All of them distribute mostly commercial films from major Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Paramount. Two of them, Con Film and 2iFilm manage distribution from Croatia, while Blitz Film & Video Distribution is also strongly connected to its mother company in Croatia.
The smaller Slovenian distribution companies, which distribute independent, domestic and European films, are Fivia, Cinemania Group and Demiurg, which altogether represent approximately 10% of box office share.
EXHIBITION AND BOX OFFICE
Slovenian cinema admissions are usually around 2.5 m and generate around 12 m EUR per year. There are 50 operating cinemas with 111 digital screens, and the average ticket price is around 5.6 EUR.
Most of the Slovenian attendance is generated by multiplexes in bigger cities, owned by two major multiplex chains: Kolosej Kinematografi and Cineplexx. While Cineplexx operates six multiplexes in Maribor, Celje, Kranj, Koper, Murska Sobota and Novo mesto, Kolosej Kinematografi runs the biggest multiplex (plus the one screen cinema theatre Komuna) in the capital city of Ljubljana and a smaller one in Kranj. Maribor, the second largest Slovenian city, has two multiplexes, Maribox (operated by Projektor) and Cineplexx.
Other cinema theatres try to balance commercial and art house films. Most of them are members of the Slovenian Art Cinema Asociation, which currently has 28 active members.
The leading art house cinema is Kinodvor. Metka Dariš was appointed as its director in April 2019, replacing Nina Peče Grilc. The cinema had more than 121,000 admissions and over 2,000 screenings in 2019 (compared to 119,611 admissions and 2,071 screenings in 2018).
The main art event in Slovenia is LIFFe, the Ljubljana IFF, organised by Cankarjev dom. The festival generated around 46,000 admissions at its 30th edition. A total of 96 long and 25 short films were screened in Ljubljana at Cankarjev dom, Kinoteka, Kinodvor, Komuna and Kino Bežigrad from 13 to 24 November 2019, and simultaneously in Maribor, Celje and Novo mesto. In 2019 LIFFe also saw its one-millionth visitor in the festival’s 30-year history.
The estimated results show that Slovenian cinema admissions in 2019 dropped by approximately 10 percent to 2.31 m (compared to 2.549 m in 2018), while the total box office dropped by less than 3 percent to 12,476 m EUR (from 12,795,794 EUR in 2018), due to a higher ticket price.
In 2019 just two titles had over 100,000 admissions (compared to three in 2018): The Lion King with approximately 131,111 admissions and 734,472 EUR gross, and Frozen 2 with 104,322 admissions and 570,898 EUR gross. The next spots are taken by Joker with 98,214 admissions, Avengers: Endgame with 82,621 admissions and How to Train Your Dragon 2 with 79,966 admissions.
The results are better for Slovenian releases, where the top domestic title Let Him Be a Basketball Player 2 directed by Boris Bezić ranks 6th with 76,824 admissions and 357,393 EUR gross. For comparison, Gaja’s World directed by Peter Bratuša and produced by Felina Films in coproduction with RTV Slovenija, was the top domestic title in 2018 with 62,040 admissions and 221,373 EUR gross. The film gathered additional 14,533 admissions and 43,865 EUR gross in 2019.
Other successful domestic films released in 2019 are Preboj directed by Dejan Babošek and produced by Narajan, with 17,004 admissions and 80,091 EUR gross, My Last Year as a Loser directed by Urša Menart and produced by Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenija, NuFrame and 100, with approximately 11,840 admissions and 40,892 EUR gross, and Stories from the Chestnut Woods directed by Gregor Božić with 6,199 admissions and 26,928 EUR gross.
Slovenian films had well over 160,000 admissions, which is an increase of over 20 percent (compared to 133,173 in 2018) and represents around 7% share of the total box office (compared to 5% share in 2018).
The Slovenian film with the most admissions since 1991 is still At Hostar / Pr’ Hostar directed by Luka Marčetić (and produced by Kerlc Film in coproduction with Iridum Film), with 211,604 admissions (179,667 admissions in 2016 and 31,937 admissions in 2017), followed by Going Our Way / Gremo mi po svoje (2010) directed by Miha Hočevar and produced by Vertigo/Emotionfilm in coproduction with RTV Slovenija, with 205,439 admissions.
GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION
The main film institution in Slovenia is the Slovenian Film Centre (SFC), a public agency established in 2011 replacing the Slovenian Film Fund. Its goal is to encourage creativity by providing suitable conditions for audiovisual activities.
The SFC supports national film production, postproduction, distribution and film festivals. In theory, its funding sources should come from the state budget, the agency’s own income, collaboration with international organisations, donations and sponsorships. In practice, the majority of its funding is in the form of a subsidy from the Ministry of Culture, with the amount depending on the annual budget of the country.
Since its launch, the SFC has been deeply involved in the production of domestic films. Other sources of support originate from the national television RTV Slovenija, coproductions, services backed by the state and provided by FS Viba film studio in the form of technical assistance, from international film funds and institutions.
In 2019 the SFC was involved in the production of 74% of domestic films with an average funding support of over 37% per project.
In 2019 the Slovenian Film Centre received 5.585 m EUR for film funding and other activities, which is 13 percent more compared to 4.859 m EUR for 2018. Since the beginning of November 2018, the annual budget for film production has been gradually increasing in order to reach 11 m EUR by 2022.
The managing director of the SFC is Nataša Bučar, appointed in December 2016. She and her team announced a new strategy for the next four years on 25 November 2019, in spite of the fact that the national programme for Culture is still pending. The vision of the SFC and its general strategic goals in the coming period from 2020 to 2024 entails the implementation of a transparent and modern system to ensure a sustainable, functional and stable film environment.
In 2019 the Slovenian Film Centre announced 13 public tenders and awarded grants totalling 4.15 m EUR (compared to 4.12 m EUR in 2018).
A total of 4,066,726 EUR went to film production (feature films, documentaries, animated films) and 244,765 EUR to script and project development. A total of 455,000 EUR was allocated to film culture in Slovenia (festivals, film education and professional education).
Among other activities, the SFC successfully continues the project Our Films at Home, aiming at promoting domestic films among the Slovenian audience. Six film premieres were organised in 2019 and the project also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Slovenian film director and screenwriter France Štiglic's birth.
The restoration of Slovenian classics continued in 2019 and France Štiglic’s That Beautiful Day / Tistega lepega dne (1962, Viba Film) and Don't Cry Peter / Ne joči, Peter (1964, Viba Film) were restored and will be released on Blu-ray in 2020.
Zoran Poznič was appointed new Minister of Culture of Slovenia by the National Assembly on 8 March 2019. Among his priorities he stated the adoption of the so-called Law on Cultural Euro, the preparation and adoption of new media legislation and the adoption of the National Programme for Culture (NPK) for the period from 2020 to 2026.
In the last few years, according to the Law on the Slovenian Film Centre, the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija has been obliged to invest in independent projects.
The national television RTV Slovenija still plays a key role in the domestic production, making up to five feature and documentary films per year, and acting as a regular coproducer. In 2019 it successfully launched its own crime series The Lake / Jezero directed by Matevž Luzar and Klemen Dvornik, based on the well-known novel by Tadej Zupančič. The strongest commercial television Pro plus produced a new drama series Bridges of Us / Najini mostovi directed by Jaka Šuligoj, which will be launched in the spring of 2020.
The leading commercial TV Pro plus with its five channels - POP TV, KANAL A, KINO, BRIO and OTO, made its leading position even stronger with news, reality shows, local TV series, sporting events and foreign programming. It is followed by the national television RTV Slovenija with its three national channels, and another commercial television, Planet Group, with its three channels. Other significant players are foreign cable TV channels Fox Group, Cas Media, HBO Europe; TV3 medias and several ex-Yugoslavian TV channels.
Prime time in Slovenian television is generally held by news (24 ur, Dnevnik, Planet Danes), reality and entertainment shows (Your Voice Sounds Familiar, Dancing with the Stars, Masterchef, Farm, Biggest Looser, Milijonar, Pri črnem Petru, Joker) and domestic fiction (River of Love / Reka ljubezni directed by Nejc Levstik and Jaka Šuligoj, Scene de Menages / Takle mamo directed by Niko Vodošek).
The interest in Turkish series continued in 2019 and at the end of the year RTV Slovenija successfully launched the crime series The Lake directed by Matevž Luzar and Klemen Dvornik.
In 2019 the leading position of Pro plus remained untouched. Pro plus had a 49.9% prime time share, RTV Slovenija 13.9%, Planet Group 7.4%, TV3 Medias 0.7% and other TV channels 28.1%.
Report by Damijan Vinter (2020) Sources: the Slovenian Film Centre, the Ministry of Culture, Fivia/Cenex