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FESTIVALS Karlovy Vary

Slovak cinema still looking for its own City of the Sun

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With officially only two films produced in 2004, Slovakia has one of the lowest production outputs in the EU of 25. Worse is that things do not look about to change, according to director Martin Sulik.

His film City of the Sun (“Slunecni stat”) is the only home selection in the official program of the 40th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. But even that is only 50 percent Slovak. It is financed by the state film fund in Slovakia but is produced in the Czech Republic by Prvni Verejnopravni together with Czech TV.

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Sulik, like Juraj Jakubisko and other prominent Slovaks, are used to bring their ideas and productions over the border to Prague where financial support for the industry comes from more sources. “We like to say that we Slovaks are the third [production powerhouse] in Europe after France and Germany,” jokes Sulik. He argues that neither public nor commercial TV in Slovakia are willing to support them in any way and the only funds available are the 80 million crowns (2 million €) the Slovak film state fund hands out to filmmakers each year - a drop in the ocean in real numbers.

In spite of the difficulties though the director thinks that there might be light at the end of the tunnel. “Since last year the ministry of culture has set support for cinema as its priority. But it will take a long time”.

For the time being he admits he will continue to work wherever he is given the means to do so. “I like him, we share the same view of the world,” says his Czech producer Cestmir Kopecky, signaling a continuity in their co-operation despite relatively bad news from the ticket front. In 10 weeks since its release and in spite of its winning top prize at Finale Plzen 2005, City of the Sun has taken only two million CZK or 70,000 euros at the Czech box office.

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