FNE 2010 Year in Review: Slovenia's Great Expectations

By Matevz Rudolf

    Slovenian filmmakers and producer had great expectation for the year 2010. With 2011 on the horizon, some of those expectations have become reality.

    A new Minister of Culture, Majda Širca (www.mk.gov.si), appointed in the end of 2008, announced changes and the completion of the laws on public broadcaster RTV (www.rtvslo.si) and the Slovenian Film Fund (www.film-sklad.si), designed to assure stability in Slovenian film production. As a former film publicist and TV journalist for national broadcaster RTV, her words had credence. Both of the laws were finally passed in autumn 2010. Širca argued that the long wait was necessary for their careful preparation, which involved the participation of many media experts. Nevertheless neither filmmakers and film producers nor broadcaster RTV have welcomed those laws with great joy.

    The law established the Slovenian Film Center (SFC), a public agency replacing the Slovenian Film Fund (SFF), as of January 2011. SFC is to be a modern, transparent and efficient agency whose primary task will be to support the development and production of Slovenian film. The SFC will introduce a new financing and grants system. The grants will be not greater than 50% of the budget for most films, except for youth and low-budget films (under 700,000 Euros) where support can be as much as 80% of the production budget. In the past, SFF covered up to 100% of a film's budget. Unlike SFF, SFC will not participate in film production as an investor, and will not share in any film profits. Most Slovenian producers and directors are skeptical about the new institution, primarily because it is still unknown if funding will reach or exceed the current 5 million euros for annual film production.

    In spite of institutional problems, four new Slovenian films were produced in 2010, including two debuts. Vlado Škafar's first feature film Dad was one of the seven films picked for International Film Critics' Week (www.sicvenezia.it) at the Venice Film Festival 2010. The second debut was from the young Slovenian film and TV director Goran Vojnović. His film Piran - Pirano received the largest grant (920,507 Euros) from the Slovenian Film Fund in 2009. Miha Hočevar's family comedy called Going Our Way was a box office hit surpassing 110,000 admissions (the film is still in distribution), making it the third most watched Slovenian film in history. Janez Burger's new €2 million co-production film Circus Fantasticus won several awards on Slovenian film festival (www.fsf.si) and was a critical success, described as beautiful and audio-visually fascinating film without dialog.

    Admissions at Slovenian cinemas are rising. The cinema chain Planet Tuš (www.planet-tus.com) opened a new multiplex and became Slovenia's largest exhibitor. Slovenia has now 62 screens with some 14,000 seats in multiplex cinemas, while small art cinemas also had strong results in 2010.

    Slovenia also led the way in the switch from analogue to digital TV. The switch off of the analogue TV signal was carried out on high professional level. Coding standard MPEG-4 (H.264 for video and HE AAC v1 for audio) was applied in Slovenia.

    Great expectations are continuing into 2011, with Slovenian filmmakers in good shape despite the never-ending story of institutional problems. Hopes now rest in the new Slovenian Film Center.