Slovenian Culture

Slovenian Films

Of course, the history of Slovene film doesn't start with the beginning of the Slovene state in 1991; 2005 was the centenary of Slovenian cinema, encompassing films made in the Yugoslav era and before. This was celebrated in London by a short season of movies at the ICA.

The film industry in Slovenia has never been exactly over-laden with funds, but the standard of output has been none the worse for that. However, it has meant that many fine movies never get to international audiences, as funds tend not to run to international promotion. This is a great shame, as the above-mentioned mini-festival in London testified. The first truly all-Slovene film was Na Svoji Zemlji (On Our Land), released in 1948 and directed by France Štiglic.

Dance in the RainHailed by Slovene critics as the best domestic film of all time, Dance in the Rain (1961), was directed by Boštjan Hladnik. Similar in style to the French nouvelle vague, using multiple flashbacks and dream sequences, it tells the story of a young teacher in the fruitless pursuit of love.

Spare PartsSpare Parts (2003) did benefit from a brief release in UK independent cinemas and recieved very good reviews. It's a harrowing story of two petty criminals in the Balkans, who ply their trade in human traffic across the Italian border. The director, Damjan Kozole, won many international awards with this movie and his latest, Labour Equals Freedom, was released in 2005.

Cheese and JamBranko Djurić's Kajmak in Marmelada (Cheese and Jam - 2004) is a lively, cross-cultural black comedy which had me laughing in the aisles (not easy at the ICA). It deals with the problems in a marriage between a Bosnian husband and his loving - but maddened - Slovene wife. The three central characters (Djurić himself, plus Tanja Ribič and Dragan Bjelogrlić) are played with some panache and just to ensure that you don't get too involved in the seriousness, there's a brilliantly exploited running gag. Oh, and it pokes a wry finger of fun into the ribs of Slovenian sensibilities.

Kruh in Mleko (Bread and Milk) , by Jan Cvitkovič (2001) takes itself a lot more seriously. Here we see a family torn apart by the good ol' demon drink; a tough yet tender tale of family life and strife.

No Man's LandWell, I said it would be brief, but this is a travel website after all. But to make it a wrap, I should mention the seriously marvelous Bosnian/Slovene co-production No Man's Land (2001), made possible by funding from the European co-production fund, Euroimages. This peach of a movie won the award for best script at Cannes, and the Academy Award for best foreign film. You can get this on DVD. If you haven't seen it: do so now.

Kekec


Certainly the most celebrated movie character in Slovenia is the boy Kekec (pron. Kekets), played by Matija Barl in the eponymous movie of 1951.

QuickPlot: alpine village, courageous boy saves girl and old man, defeats bad man, returns victorious to village. The end? No - many more films followed, to the delight of thousands of Slovene children. Some of whom lived happily ever after.

Aaah.