FNE at IFF Bratislava: Documentaries Yield New Crop of Slovak Filmmakers

    Made In Ash Made In Ash

    BRATISLAVA: Slovakia’s emergence as a country of talented documentary filmmakers in the past decade is attracting a young generation of directors and producers to the genre.  FNE caught up with several of Slovakia’s leading young documentary filmmakers during the 14th Bratislava IFF (www.iffbratislava.sk).

    While a panel on film criticism organised in cooperation with the Slovak Film Institute (www.aic.sk) questioned whether there were too many films being made, Slovakia will produce a record 20 feature films in 2012, Ivan Hronec of Bratislava-based international media company Film Europe (www.filmeurope.eu) told FNE, “We are happy to have the quantity. The quality will emerge from that.”

    Young Slovak documentary filmmakers are proving the point, while continuing a tradition that can be traced to internationally acclaimed cross-over documentary and fiction directors including Jan Kadar, Dusan Hanak, and Martin Sulik.

    The new field of filmmakers includes Slovak Oscar 2012 hopeful Iveta Grofova, whose training as a documentary director was clearly visible in her feature fiction debut film Made in Ash (www.protos.sk). Grofova told FNE she plans to blend documentary and fiction in her upcoming projects.

    Jana Bucka, aka Jana Kovalcikova, half of a co-directing/co-writing team with Marek Sulik, made her full-length documentary debut with the 2012 winner of the Slovak Doc Award at the Cinematick festival in Piestany (www.cinamatick.sk), Bells of Happiness (www.zudro.sk).

    Bucka told FNE she and Sulik are completing the first part of a nine-episode documentary which follows a trio of men who lead workshops for amateur filmmakers from specific social groups, included the handicapped, retired people, and gypsies. The first episode, expected to run 26-30 minutes, was shot for 10,000 EUR and produced by Sulik’s new company Filmotras.

    The filmmakers are in discussions with Slovak TV (www.rtvs.sk) to coproduce the 90,000 EUR series, along with a possible feature-length version.  Bucka is also in production with a documentary about mentally handicapped actors directed by Adam Hanuljak and produced by Mira Trizmova through Mira Film for completion in 2014.

    Industry watchers are awaiting the directing debut of Marek Mackovic, Okhwan, a road documentary that follows a South Korean lawyer and peace activist traveling by bicycle to countries around the world.  Mackovic told FNE that the Czech/Slovak coproduction with a budget of 40 m CZK will be finished in January 2014.  Okhwan is a coproduction of Filmpark (www.filmpark.sk), a film services, rental, postproduction and production company where Mackovic is a producer.  Mackovic is also coproducing a Czech/French/Slovak animated film, Little Girl from the Fishshop directed by Jan Balej scheduled for completion in 2014.

    In yet another example of established documentary filmmakers moving into fiction films, Jaroslav Vojtek, whose documentaries include The Border (2009) and The Gypsy Vote (2012), will makes his fiction film directing debut with Children, a film which looks at four parent/offspring relationships shot over four seasons.  The film is produced by the young company MPhilms (www.mphilms.sk) under producer Matyas Prikler and will complete shooting in spring 2013.