Slovenia

    Klemen Kostrevc and Domen Novak in Let Him Be a Basketball Player 2 by Boris BezićMARKET ANALYSIS 2020

    LJUBLJANA: Several film projects were interrupted because of the Coronavirus pandemic, most of them postponed to a later date, some of them to 2021; film theatres and multiplexes were more or less closed almost all year (completely closed for five months, operating with limited seating capacity for another five months). For the same reason the distribution and cinema releases were very limited, which resulted in a drop in cinema attendance of almost 80%.

    The Slovenian Film Centre (SFC), which had announced a new strategy for the next four years in November 2019, found itself in a compromised position with the Slovenian Government fulfilling its financial obligations only on the very last day of 2020. Not being able to execute the majority of already confirmed payments to the Slovenian producers during the year caused a major protest and jeopardised the existence of many film projects and the Slovenian filmmakers themselves.

    In 2020 the SFC received 5.483 m EUR for film funding and other activities, which is around 2% percent less compared to the 5.585 m EUR in 2019. Since the beginning of November 2018, the annual budget for film production should gradually increase and it was expected to reach 11 m EUR by 2022, which now seems quite unrealistic.

    Vasko Simoniti was appointed new Minister of Culture of Slovenia on 8 March 2020, replacing Zoran Poznič. He is the fifth Minister of Culture in the past five years.

    Dont Forget To Breathe by Martin Turk, photo: Bela FilmPRODUCTION

    Slovenian producers usually produce around 15 feature films and long documentaries per year but in 2020 most of the projects were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Slovenian producers also focus on coproductions, especially with other ex-Yugoslavian and bordering EU countries. Foreign producers’ share in the investments in Slovenian majority projects is close to a relatively high number of 30%.

    Fifteen films (nine feature films and six long documentaries) had been expected to be completed in 2020 but only five (three feature films and two documentaries) were actually completed.

    In 2021 thirteen films (eight feature films and five long documentaries) are expected to be completed.

    Ten films (eight feature films and two long documentaries) are expected to start shooting in 2021.

    Additionally, some films which started shooting in 2019 and 2020, are in the production process and are expected to be completed in 2022.

    The feature films (excluding minority coproductions) completed in 2020 are: 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); Inventory / Inventura directed by Darko Sinko and produced by December in coproduction with RTV Slovenija; and Sanremo directed by Miroslav Mandić and produced by Filmostovje in coproduction with RTV Slovenija and Incipitfilm (Italy).

    Once Were Humans by Goran Vojnović, foto: ArsmediaThe long documentaries (excluding minority coproductions) completed in 2020 are: Antigona - How Dare We! / Antigona – Kako si drznemo! directed by Jani Sever and produced by Sever & Sever in coproduction with RTV Slovenija; and Farewell / Odpotovanje directed by Petra Seliškar and produced by Petra Pan Film in coproduction with Jana Cisar Filmproducktion (Germany) and PPFP (North Macedonia).

    The following feature films (excluding minority coproductions) are expected to be completed in 2021: Orchestra / Orkester directed by Matevž Luzar and produced by Gustav Film; The Space Within Us / Vesolje med nami directed by Rahela Jagrič Pirc and produced by Arsmedia in coproduction with MB Grip, Zvokarna, NuFrame, RTV Slovenija and Mir Media Group (Serbia); Eva / Eva (working title) directed by Tijana Zinajić and produced by December in coproduction with RTV Slovenija; Riders / Jezdeca directed by Dominik Mencej and produced by Staragara in coproduction with SENSE Production (Serbia), Antitalent (Croatia), Novi Film (Bosnia & Herzegovina), and Transmedia (Italy); Birdbreeder / Ptičar directed by Robert Črnelč and produced by Tramal films; Beanie / Kapa directed by Slobodan Maksimović and produced by Senca Studio in coproduction with Wady Films (Luxembourg), Studio Dim (Croatia), Objectif (Slovakia), RTV Slovenija, HRT (Croatia), RTVS (Slovakia); Grandpa Goes South / Dedek gre na jug directed by Vinci Vogu Anžlovar and produced by A Atalanta in coproduction with Sektor Film (North Macedonia); and Deadlock / Zastoj directed by Vinko Möderndorfer and produced by Forum Ljubljana in coproduction with Delirium (Serbia) and Sektor Film (North Macedonia).

    The following long documentaries (excluding minority coproductions) are expected to be completed in 2021: Cent´anni directed by Maja Prelog and produced by Cvinger film in coproduction with Agresywna Banda (Poland), Zena film (Italy) and Zwinger film (Austria); Reconciliation / Odpuščanje directed by Marija Zidar and produced by Vertigo in coproduction with RTV Slovenija, Sandi Pavlin in Sanremo by Miroslav Mandić, copyright: Silvia ZeitlingerDera Film (Republic of Kosovo), Baš Čelik (Serbia) and Seagull Entertainment (Montenegro); Time – Worldwide Computer Adventure / Iskre v času – Svetovni računalniški podvig directed by Jurij Gruden and produced by Senca Studio 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); Skozi moje oči directed by Igor Vrtačnik and produced by Film Horizont; Duhovnica directed by Maja Prettnar and produced by Studio Virc; and The Body / Telo directed by Petra Seliškar and produced by Petra Pan Film in coproduction with Wolfgang & Dolly (Croatia) and PPFP (North Macedonia).

    The following feature films (excluding minority coproductions) were in preproduction in 2020 and are expected to start shooting in 2021: Vesna directed by Sara Kern and produced by Cvinger film in coproduction with Sweetshop & Green (Australia); Man Without a Guilt / Mož brez krivde directed by Ivan Gergolet and produced by Staragara in coproduction with Transmedia (Italy) and Antitalent (Croatia); Opazovanje / Observation directed by Janez Burger and produced by Staragara in coproduction with Transmedia (Italy), Propeler Film (Croatia) and, SENSE Production (Serbia); The Last Hero / Poslednji heroj directed by Žiga Virc and produced by Studio Virc; Wake Me / Zbudi me direted by Marko Šantić and produced by Vertigo; Skriti ljudje directed by Miha Hočevar and produced by Vertigo, Gaja's World 2 / Gajin svet 2 directed by Peter Bratuša and produced by Felina Film, and Šterkijada directed by Igor Šterk and produced by A.A.C Production.

    The 25% cash rebate scheme, introduced in 2017, helps to stimulate the shooting of foreign productions in Slovenia. In 2020 one million EUR was allocated for that purpose. In 2020 the following four entries were submitted and have already been approved: Lala and Deklica je poletela (by Staragara), Citadel and Infinite Storm (by Pakt Media).

    COVID GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

    Antigone, How Dare We? by Jani SeverThe Slovenian government has, for the duration of the pandemic, enabled all the self-employed, and most of the people working in the Slovenian film industry are among them, to receive payments in the form of a universal income of 700 EUR (net) if their yearly income dropped by at least 20% compared to 2019.

    There were no other COVID-19 relief measures in Slovenia specifically targeted at film production, as opposed to other countries, where additional funds were allocated to cover the producers’ costs connected with preventing the spread of the virus on set or to compensate for production delays.

    Neither cinemas nor distributors received any targeted state help. The cinemas only received reimbursement for employees' salaries and some of the fixed expenses for the time the cinemas were closed.

    In accordance with changes to the 2020 state budget of the Ministry of Culture, direct support for the Slovenian Art Cinema Network cinemas was cut by half.

    DISTRIBUTION

    Significantly fewer films were released in cinemas in 2020 because of the COVID impact.

    Just one domestic film, Don’t Forget to Breathe directed by Martin Turk and produced by Bela film, was partially released in cinemas in March 2020, before the first COVID-19 restrictions caused the complete closing of the cinemas on 13 March. Its limited distribution later continued online, just for schools.

    Only three Slovenian feature films and four long documentaries were screened in the competition of the 23rd Festival of Slovenian Film, which ran in Ljubljana, and not in Portorož as in Uroš Fürst and Barbara Cerar in Deadlock by Vinko Möderndorfer, photo: Željko Stevanićprevious years, from 6 to 11 October 2020. Due to the pandemic, only two long documentaries had their premieres, as all the other films had already been released in cinemas or broadcast on television. This was also the reason why six Vesna Awards, including the Vesna Award for Best Film, were not given out in 2020. 

    Martin Turk’s Don’t Forget to Breathe, produced by Bela film in coproduction with Quasar Multimedia (Italy), Studio Dim (Croatia), RAI Cinema (Italy), RTV Slovenija, won the Vesna Award for Best Narrative Feature Film and Jani Sever’s Antigone - How Dare We!, produced by Sever & Sever in coproduction with RTV Slovenija, won the Vesna Award for Best Documentary. 

    Antigone – How Dare We! won altogether three Vesna Awards: Best Long Documentary, Best Leading Actor for Primož Bezjak and Best Editing for Miloš Kalusek. The film also won the FIPRESCI Award from the Association of Slovenian Film Critics.

    The Italian/Slovenian coproduction Paradise – A Second Life directed by Davide del Degan and produced by Pilgrim Film (Italy) in coproduction with A Atalanta (Slovenia) won Vesnas for production and costume design, and Katarina Čas was named Best Supporting Actress.

    Don’t Forget to Breathe won the Vesna Awards for Best Feature and Best Cinematography (Radislav Jovanov – Gonzo). The Greek/Polish/Slovenian coproduction Apples directed by Christos Nikou and produced by Boo Productions (Greece) in coproduction wtih Lava Films (Poland) and Perfo Production (Slovenia) won the Vesna Awards for the Best Minority Coproduction and Best Sound Design.

    The Slovene Animated Film Association (DSAF) awarded its DSAF Animation Guild Awards to the short animated film Mury the Cat – The Big Game directed by Jernej Žmitek and produced by Invida, in the categories of best directing and best animation technique; and to The War of The Words Or The Respectful Silence directed by Leo Černic and produced by Kinoatelje, for best artistic design.

    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), won the Best Director prize at the 67th Pula IFF, while 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, received the Critic's Prize at the 13th CinEast FF.

    I Am Frank by Metod Pevec, photo: VertigoThe year 2020 was also successful for some of the Slovenian minority coproductions. Father directed by Srđan Golubović and produced by Baš Čelik (Serbia) in coproduction with ASAP Films (France), Neue Mediopolis Film (Germany), Propeler Film (Croatia), Vertigo (Slovenia) and SCCA/PRO.BA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), was awarded the Ecumenical Jury Prize and the Audience award in the Panorama section of the 70th Berlin IFF, as well as the Press Jury Special Mention at the 13th CinEast FF .

    Oasis / Oaza directed by Ivan Ikić and produced by SENSE Production (Serbia) in coproduction with Tramal films (Slovenia), Kepler Film (the Netherlands), Les Films d' Antoine (France) and SCCA/PRO.BA (Bosnia and Herzegovina), was awarded the Europa Cinemas Label Award at the Venice IFF, as well as the FIPRESCI Prize and Outstanding Individual Performance prize at the 30th Cotbus FF, and Best Feature Film at the  Zagreb Film Festival.

    The leading position among distributors in 2020 is shared by Blitz Film & Video Distribution and Karantanija Cinemas with 27% box office share, followed by Continental, Fivia, 2iFilm, Cinemania, Demiurg and REIT.

    Most of them distribute mostly commercial films from major Hollywood studios such as Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Paramount. Two of them, Continental 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. In 2020 their box office share increased to 17% (from 10% in 2019).

    Stories from the Chestnut Woods by Gregor BožičVOD PLATFORMS AND ONLINE DISTRIBUTION

    The distribution of new films completely died out in connection with the epidemic preventive measures and the closure of cinemas. The distributors, with a few exceptions, opted not to show films on online platforms. Exceptions have to do mostly with online distribution of a limited number of titles intended for home-schooling projects.

    Special online platforms were used for the 23rd Festival of Slovenian Film (platform RTV Slovenija) and the 31st Ljubljana IFF (platform Cinesquare).

    At the beginning of the pandemic, Slovenian filmmakers in cooperation with the SFC, Baza slovenskih filmov and Filmoteka, enabled free of charge online viewing of a selection of Slovenian films on the BSF platform. In two months, from 16 March till 21 May 2020, 173 films of different genres were made available for online screenings. They included 60 feature films and 113 short films, which altogether had over 88,000 views.

    The implementation of a common VOD platform, executed by the leading art house cinema Kinodvor along with the members of the Slovenian Art Cinema Asociation, was put as a first priority task and accelerated in order to meet the newly arisen needs.

    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.

    Oasis by Ivan IkićMost 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 with its director Metka Dariš.

    All the cinemas were closed from 13 March until 27 May and then again from 17 October until 31 December 2020 because of the pandemic. In-between they were reopened under restrictions (limited seating capacity, etc).

    According to estimates, cinema admissions and box office dropped by 77% from 2019 to 2020.

    The admissions dropped to only 539,970, compared with approximately 2.45 m in 2019 and 2018, and the total box office dropped to 2.887 m EUR, compared to 12.6 m EUR in 2019 and 12.8 m in 2018.

    The top titles on the overall chart were US hits: Bad Boys For Life with 56,070 admissions and 257,318 EUR gross, Sonic the Hedgehog with 36,200 admissions and 198,335 EUR gross and Dolittle with 24,200 admissions and 131,560 EUR gross.

    The top domestic title in 2020 was Let Him Be a Basketball Player 2 directed by Boris Bezić and produced by Gustav Film, with 5,185 admissions and 22,100 EUR gross (added to the previous 80,000 admissions which made it the top domestic film in 2019), followed by the only new domestic release Don’t Forget to Breathe directed by Martin Turk and produced by Bela Film, with 4,741 admissions and 13,550 EUR gross.

    Gojmir Lešnjak and Klemen Kostrevc in Let Him Be a Basketball Player 2 by Boris BezićThe total admissions for domestic films were 24,470, compared to 158,444 in 2019, and the total gross was 80,900 EUR, compared to 635,135 EUR in 2019, which gives around 4% in admissions and less than 3% in the total box office in 2020.

    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.

    The main art event in Slovenia is LIFFe, the Ljubljana IFF, organised by Cankarjev dom. Only 22 films were shown at its 31st edition, which was held online from 11 to 24 November 2020, compared to more than 100 films which generated around 45,000 admissions in cinema theatres in the previous years.

    GRANTS AND NEW LEGISLATION

    The main film institution in Slovenia is the Slovenian Film Centre (SFC), a public agency established in 2010 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.

    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 Don't Forget to Breathe by Martin Turkis still pending.

    The vision of the SFC and its general strategic goals in the coming period from 2020 to 2024 entail the implementation of a transparent and modern system to ensure a sustainable, functional and stable film environment.

    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 2020 the SFC received 5.483 m EUR for film funding and other activities, which is around 2% percent less compared to the 5.585 m EUR in 2019. Since the beginning of November 2018, the annual budget for film production should gradually increase and it was expected to reach 11 m EUR by 2022, which now seems quite unrealistic.  

    In 2020 the SFC was in constant contact with the producers with whom they have contracts and with the producers who succeeded with their projects in the past funding calls. The SFC has done everything in its power and in all legal and formal ways which legally bind the SFC within the contract and the resolution signed in 2020 with the Ministry of Culture.

    On the last day of 2020 the SFC finally received the majority of the funds from the state budget and paid its obligations towards film producers, based on finalised funding calls and signed contracts.

    The Slovenian Film Centre has used up 85% of the available film transfers funds for the year 2020. The remainder, which was not allocated due to bureaucratic complications, will presumably be additionally available for funding in 2021.

    The Slovenian Film Centre announced 12 public tenders in 2020, compared to 13 in 2019, and awarded grants totalling 3.66 m EUR, compared to 4.15 m EUR in 2019.

    Eight public tenders were successfully closed in 2020 awarding 3.63 m EUR, four of them for the sum of 330,000 EUR are still in the process of decision making.

    A total of 3,425,835 EUR (compared to 4,066,726 EUR in 2019) went to film production (feature films, documentaries, animated films). A total of 202,359 EUR (compared to 455,000 EUR in Antigone, How Dare We? by Jani Sever2019) was allocated to festivals, film education and professional education.

    The restoration of Slovenian classics continued in 2020 and Jane Kavčič’s Hang on, Doggy! / Sreča na vrvici (1977, Vesna film and Viba Film), France Štiglic’s The Story of Good People / Povest o dobrih ljudeh (1975, Viba Film) and Jože Babič’s Don’t Come Back by the Same Way / Po isti poti se ne vračaj (1965, Viba Film) were additionally restored.

    In November 2020 a new city square in Ljubljana was named after the well-known and awarded Slovenian film director France Štiglic.

    Vasko Simoniti was appointed as the new Minister of Culture of Slovenia by the National Assembly on 13 March 2020. He announced it to be his first priority to draw up a new national culture programme, the framework for programming and financial priorities in the arts. Simoniti, an active member of the Slovenian Democratic Party, had already served as the Minister of Culture of Slovenia between 2004 and 2008.

    TV

    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 and the leading commercial TV channel Pro plus still play a key role in the domestic production.

    RTV Slovenija makes up to five feature and documentary films per year, and it acts as a regular coproducer to domestic films. In 2020 RTV Slovenija started shooting its own production, the crime series Cases of Inspector Vrenko / Primeri inšpektorja Vrenka, directed by Slobodan Maksimović and Boris Jurjašević, and based on a series of novels by Tomaž Zupančič alias Avgust Demšar.

    The strongest commercial television Pro plus continued to produce, in spite of the pandemic, the drama series Bridges of Us / Najini mostovi directed by Jaka Šuligoj, which was Sanremo by Miroslav Mandić, photo: Peter Zeitlinger successfully launched in the spring of 2020, and other local reality and entertainments shows such as Dancing with the Stars, Masterchef and Farmer Wants a Wife. Pro plus also produced for its SVOD platform VOYO two domestic TV series – the second season of LP, Lena / Ciao Lena directed by Ema Muc, Aron Horvath and Gaja Moderndorfer; and the second season of Match / Lajf je tekma directed by Dominik Mencej.

    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, which is loosing its market share. 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 (Dancing with the Stars, Masterchef, Farmer Wants a Wife, Milijonar, Pri črnem Petru, Joker) and domestic fiction (drama TV series Bridges of Us / Najini mostovi directed by Jaka Šuligoj, crime series The Lake / Jezero directed by Matevž Luzar and Klemen Dvornik) and foreign fiction (Croatian TV comedy series Na granici, and films).

    In 2020 Pro plus remained the leading television, while RTV Slovenija slightly improved its position. Pro plus had a prime time share of 48.8%, RTV Slovenija 16.2%, Planet Group 6.8%, TV3 Medias 1.0% and other TV channels 27.2%.

    CONTACTS:

    SLOVENIAN FILM CENTRE
    Miklošičeva 38
    SI - 1000 Ljubljana
    Phone: +386 (0)1 23 43 200
    Fax: +386 (0)1 23 43 219
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    www.sfc.si

    SLOVENIA FILM COMMISSION
    Miklošičeva 38
    SI - 1000 Ljubljana
    Phone: +386 (0)3 23 43 200
    Fax: +386 (0)1 23 43 219
    Mojca Planšak, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

    MINISTRY OF CULTURE OF REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA
    Maistrova ulica 10
    SI - 1000 Ljubljana
    Oasis by Ivan IkićPhone: +386 (0)1 369 59 00
    Fax: +386 (0)1 369 59 01
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    www.mk.gov.si

    FS VIBA
    Stegne 5
    SI - 1000 Ljubljana
    Phone: + 386 (0)1 5132 402
    Fax: + 386 (0)1 5132 550
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    www.vibafilm.si

    SLOVENIAN ART CINEMA ASOCIATION
    Fancetova ulica 5
    2380 Slovenj Gradec
    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    www.artkinomreza.si/

    Report by Damijan Vinter (2021)
    Sources: the Slovenian Film Centre, the Ministry of Culture, Fivia/Cenex