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REPORT: Febiofest Slovakia 2016

by Martin Kudláč

The organisers of the International Film Clubs Festival Febiofest, in collaboration with the Slovak Film Institute, have held the first edition of the Industry Days platform for film professionals. The festival launched the project last year with the Work in Progress presentation of domestic productions, expanding the programme over two days this year. The artistic director of the International Film Clubs Febiofest, Přemysl Martinek, confirmed that the platform is part of the festival’s new strategy. 

Peter Kerekes' Censors (Slovakia/Czech Republic)
The line-up of what is currently in the pipeline in Slovak cinema comprised 11 promising projects, three of which were presented by producer and filmmaker Ivan Ostrochovský, who received international acclaim with his fiction feature debut Koza. Ostrochovský co-wrote the script for the new film by critically acclaimed documentary maker Peter Kerekes, who is directing and producing a meticulously researched docufiction, Censors, based on and starring real people in a scenario inspired by their stories. Even though the project is still in development, Kerekes has already shot the first chapter in Odessa prison, which centres around a woman censoring love letters to inmates. The film is expected to be structured in three parts, the first tackling the censorship of words, the second revolving around image censorship in Saudi Arabia, and the last about censorship in cinema based on practices in Nollywood. Research on the last part is about to start, with the director hoping to finish the film before the end of 2017. Czech production outfit Hypermarket Film is already on board, and the co-producer and director are looking for co-producers in Austria. 

Ivan Ostrochovský's The Disciple (Slovakia/Czech Republic/UK)
The follow-up to Koza and Ostrochovský’s next directorial work is the black-and-white drama The Disciple, which portrays the clash between the Catholic church and the communist regime during the normalisation era in Slovakia, and develops through the narratives of pro- and counter-regime priests. The script was penned by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, the British writer behind the script of the award-winning Ida, and the photography is by Juraj Chlpík (DoP on Blind Loves), who delivered powerful imagery in a series of static shots from the film that were shown. The film is set to be co-produced by Czech company Negativ in collaboration with Mike Downey for UK outfit F&ME. The bulk of filming is expected to take place between 2016 and 2017.

Mária Rumanová's Sunrise Hotel (Slovakia)
Ostrochovský is also producing a documentary that is already in post-production, Sunrise Hotel, directed by emerging young filmmaker Mária Rumanová, who has made a patchwork of stories with five protagonists from a multicultural city in the East of Slovakia that is past its golden age. The bleak docupic, resembling domestic social realism, is being co-produced by Slovak public broadcaster Radio and Television Slovakia and the Academy of Performing Arts, and should be premiered this summer. 

Martina Saková's Summer with Bernard (Slovakia/Germany)
Two of the projects presented were genre films. Slovak and German co-production Summer with Bernard is an adventure film aimed at children and their parents with the tagline, “a humorous film about sad things”, that tries to address adult issues such as alcoholism and loneliness through the eyes of a child. The director, Martina Saková, is currently looking for a third co-producer, ideally from the Czech Republic. The film has an estimated budget of €700,535 and the bulk of filming is due to take place in 2017. Besides classic distribution channels, the filmmaker is also considering online distribution.

Katarína Šulajová's Backstage (Slovakia/Czech Republic)
The second genre film, Backstage, directed by Katarína Šulajová, focuses on a streetdance subculture and teenagers on the road to their dream passing several hurdles along the way. The film is already in production, with location scouting under way. Backstage has a mixed cast of professional and amateur actors, with two female directors of photography at the ready. The Slovak and Czech co-production already has Canadian co-producer Monkeys & Parrots on board (the scenes set in New York will be shot in Canada), and is looking for additional funding in the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Peter Hledík's Photographer of the Beatles (Slovakia)
There were also plenty of documentary projects on the slate. One biopic currently under development, Photographer of the Beatles, directed and written by Peter Hledík, tells the story of the Slovak photographer of Marilyn Monroe, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, Dežo Hoffmann. The producer for Trigon Production, the Emmy Award-winning company of Nicolas Winton, Patrik Pašš, who made the biopic Power of Good: Nicolas Winton, confirmed that the project is in line with the company’s intention to continue making films about important Slovak figures who changed the world. Three years in development, the film about the innovator of the photographic portraits of popular celebrities is looking for co-production partners, and has an expected budget of €590,000 (originally €200,000 but the budget rose during negotiations over music and photo rights). The director is about to shoot an interview with Paul McCartney, and Pašš has revealed that several broadcasters from Spain, Croatia, Germany, Finland, Sweden, ARTE (ARTE also contributed to the dramaturgy of the film), and even the BBC, have already shown interest in the project. 

Robert Krichhoff's Through the Forest (Slovakia/Czech Republic)
Next up, Robert Krichhoff, the director of documentary Normalization, has been working on his latest project, Slovak and Czech co-production Through the Forest, since 2003, which is shot in several European countries. The documentary, which looks at the Roma Holocaust in Central Europe, is currently in post-production. The editing process is nearly complete, with the final cut expected in May 2016, after which the film should enter the festival circuit. Negotiations for distribution in Slovakia and the Czech Republic are underway, and the producers are also looking for sales agents and distributors in other countries. 

André Bonzel's Flickering Ghosts of Loves Gone By (Slovakia/Belgium)
Of a rather experimental nature is the project Flickering Ghosts of Loves Gone By, directed by Belgian filmmaker André Bonzel, co-written and produced by Juraj Krasnohorský of Slovakian outfit Artichoke. Bonzel, an avid collector of old homemade and found footage, is using this to create a feature film collage to tell the fictional story of inventor and cinema lover Fernand-Maurice Expedit. Most of the footage is in 16 mm, but it will be converted into 2K at the centre for digitalisation of the Slovak Film Institute, which explains why the project is a Slovak majority production. The film’s release has been provisionally set for mid-2017. 

Andrej Kolenčík's Turn Right! (Slovakia)
Moving on, director of short films and music videos and visual artist Andrej Kolenčík is working on his fictional feature debut Turn Right!, an absurd and surreal fairy tale for adults with a mentally challenged protagonist. The project, currently in the initial stages of pre-production with a complete script, will be shot on location in places with socialist history to accentuate the struggle to survive in a capitalist system and the differences between the current and previous regime. Filming is expected to take place from August to October 2017, with release provisionally slated for May 2018 and Mexican cinematographer Carlos Correa on board.

Teodor Kuhn's By a Sharp Knife (Slovakia)
In the late stages of development is project By a Sharp Knife, which is currently awaiting support from Slovakian Audiovisual Fund for production. The feature debut of Teodor Kuhn, which is set to be a Slovak and Czech co-production (the film is being produced by nutprodukcia, the Slovak branch of Czech outfit nutprodukce, by Jakub Viktorín), is a thriller about an impotent justice system and the corrosive power of corruption from the perspective of a father whose son was murdered and the culprits set free. The story is based on true events from an infamous Slovak case. Shooting is expected to take place in autumn 2016, with the film provisionally scheduled for release in February-March 2017.

Click here to access to the report of the Industry Days' projects in the Slovak Audiovisual Information Centre website.

(Pictures © Febiofest Slovakia)


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