23rd Festival of Slovenian Film ready to kick off in an adapted format

    Running from 6 to 11 October 2020 in Ljubljana, the 23rd Festival of Slovenian Film (FSF) will open on Tuesday, 6 October, with the screenings of the feature documentary Antigone – How Dare We! and the short film Inseparable. The context of this year’s edition and its new features in terms of both programme and organisation, were presented at the press conference before kick-off by the Director of the Slovenian Film Centre, Nataša Bučar, the Director of the 23rd FSF, Jelka Stergel, and the 23rd FSF Project Manager, Tjaša Smrekar.

    As the Festival of Slovenian Film comes under the umbrella of the Slovenian Film Centre (SFC), the first one to address the audience at the press conference was the Director of SFC, Nataša Bučar. In her introduction, Bučar outlined the current state of Slovenian film production as a factor that had a major impact on this year’s festival programme. Due to the production hiatus, a result of additional bureaucratic obstacles to the absorption of funds for film projects, many projects in various production phases have come to a standstill. This has cut back the festival line-up, particularly in terms of feature-length fiction films in the Official Competition. Nevertheless, FSF promises to provide a credible insight into the Slovenian creativity in cinema. 

    The Director of the 23rd Festival of Slovenian Film, Jelka Stergel, started by dispelling possible reservations about going ahead with the festival in the given circumstances, saying that “SFC has received dedicated funds to organise the Festival of Slovenian Film and is therefore obliged to showcase the latest in Slovenian cinema”. Stergel then continued by providing more details about the festival programme. By 20 May, FSF had received 161 submissions. The films selected for the Official Competition comprise 7 feature-length films (3 fiction films and 4 documentaries), 9 co-productions (6 feature-length and 3 short films), 7 medium-length documentaries, and 19 short films and 9 student films of various categories. A total of 51 films are in the running for Vesna Awards. Meanwhile, the Panorama Programme includes 4 feature-length films (documentaries), 8 medium-length films (also all documentaries), and 19 short films and 14 student films of various categories.

    The line-up is significantly enhanced by minority co-productions with a set of high-quality works. Stergel also highlighted a considerable number of films produced by the Slovenian national broadcaster RTV Slovenija, and advised the audience to see the retrospective of short films by this year’s recipient of the Metod Badjura Lifetime Achievement Award, Koni Steinbacher. Mentioning a strand titled Corona Programme, Stergel explained that FSF had issued a call for films made in lockdown, and introduced a special festival section comprised of the submissions. 

    Industry events are one of the aspects of FSF that have made great progress in recent years. In the light of the current developments, the events will be delivered in a hybrid form, with a combination of in-person and virtual attendance through web conferencing tools. The new reality will also impact their content, with panels discussing film and audiovisual production and distribution, or the economic importance of audiovisual industry in a world affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Other industry events include the International Co-production Meeting, discussion about the future of, and challenges for Slovenian documentary cinema, and a presentation of the Scenarnica screenwriting workshop.

    Tjaša Smrekar, the 23rd FSF Project Manager, gave more information about this year’s festival locations. The main festival venue for the screening of films in the Official Competition and after-screening cast and crew introductions is the Komuna Cinema. Industry events will take place in three conference halls of the Hotel Slon, while the closing ceremony will be held in the Union Main Hall of the Hotel Union. The Covid-19 measures and guidance will affect how the festival events are organised. The capacity of the Komuna Cinema theatre has been reduced to just above 120 people. As attendance will also be reduced for industry events, some of them will be available on the festival’s Facebook page via Zoom streaming. The closing ceremony will be filmed, and available on the festival website a few days later. The festival will follow other relevant guidelines to stop the spread of coronavirus: wearing masks and keeping a physical distance will be mandatory. If Covid-19 measures change during the festival, we will communicate all the relevant updates via our usual communication channels.

    Tickets for the screenings in the Komuna Cinema are already available for purchase online. The festival catalogue can be accessed through our website, and will be available in hard copy by the opening day.