Art Film Fest is among Slovakia’s most significant cultural events, and this year it will yet again provide an abundant array of films, most of which will not reach Slovak cinemas otherwise.
At the festival’s core are its two competition sections, a long Art Film Fest tradition. The International Competition of Feature Films is oriented towards the remarkable work of young filmmakers, specifically their first, second or third feature-length film. Generally this involves many films that have already enjoyed success at other international festivals, such as Berlin, Sundance or Locarno. In the categories of best film, direction, female and male performance, fifteen films will compete for the Blue Angel grand prize and its accompanying monetary gift.
A favourite of audiences is the International Competition of Short Films. It focuses on films from all genres of up to thirty minutes in length. The section features a fascinating overview of both student work and films created under professional conditions. It offers the opportunity to get familiar with the work of young, up-and-coming filmmakers from literally around the world. The best among them will receive the statutory On the Road award and a monetary prize.
In addition to the competition section, this year’s Art Film Fest will feature eleven non-competition film sections, three of which are brand new, presenting cinematic treats from various corners of the globe. The section Iceland According to Fridriksson will offer the unique opportunity to become better acquainted with the work of this most distinguished and world-renowned Icelandic director, screenwriter and producer. Some of his films have already been screened in Slovak cinemas or televised film clubs, but Art Film Fest will provide much more. “The section presents Fridriksson’s work from its outset – films which have either never been screened in Slovakia or are no longer distributed here – to penetrate more deeply into to the essence of his work,” says section coordinator Alexandra Strelková.
The next festival newcomer, which will definitely be a major audience attraction, is Eastern Promises, focusing on East-Asian films which have generated great enthusiasm among audiences and critics in their home countries. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to become better acquainted with a different side of Far-Eastern cinema and discover regional hits from filmmakers not yet known here. “Our ambition was to expose the wilder, livelier and indeed the more passionate side of East-Asian film, more accessible to a wider audience – the face they show mainly in their home countries, to their ‘own’ audiences,” explain section coordinators Kristína Aschenbrennerová and Adrián Žiška.
The festival also aims to attract children, and therefore another premiering section in this year’s programme will be Art Film Fest for Children: Václav Vorlíček Presents His Comedies and Fairytales. To celebrate the eightieth birthday of one of the most distinguished and popular Czech directors, Art Film Fest will present three comedies and three fairytales, personally selected by the director himself. Viewers who know these films from television will be able to see them on the silver screen, of course with the personal participation of their creator and several performers.
Then there is the festival section whose content’s focus changes every year: the presentation known as Topic. This time it takes an utterly contemporary look at football, under the title Football Is Our Life. Just a few days before the start of the 18th Art Film Fest, the 19th World Cup football tournament will commence in South Africa, which is an excellent opportunity to view this sport phenomenon through the lens of filmmakers from around the world, from Argentina to Bhutan. Visitors will undoubtedly appreciate pictures such as Looking for Eric from director Ken Loach and starring Eric Cantona, The Football Factory from director Nick Love, investigating the connections between football and British hooligan violence, and the quasi-documentary Football Under Cover (directed by David Assmann and Ayat Najafi), which captures an attempt to organise the first women’s football match in Iran.
One of audiences’ best-liked sections at Art Film Fest is Slovak Season, which presents the latest releases of Slovak cinema. These will include the premiere of animator Katarína Kerekesová’s new puppet-based film: Stones, a musical melodrama set in a rock quarry and intended for adult viewers. The next title is the co-produced documentary War Games from director Dariusz Jablonski, about the Cold War era and a man who saved Europe from nuclear conflict. Also sure to satisfy viewers will be the premiere of director Jozef Paštéka’s latest, the comedy The Corpse Must Die, starring Miroslav Noga and Peter Marcin. In addition, there will be a special presentation of Dušan Trančík’s When the Stars Were Red to celebrate the picture’s 20th anniversary. This is a film that has for some reason been undeservedly forgotten in the context of Slovak cinema.
The newly-conceived section Stardust Memories will follow in the footsteps of previous festivals’ highly popular showcase Cult!. This time it will feature eight films from a variety of genres, whose quality ranks them among world cinema’s most significant work. “At the same time, every title comprises a significant, time-tested work, featuring renowned filmmakers and star performers,” adds Peter Nágel, section coordinator and festival director. For the second time, festival president Milan Lasica will introduce his selection of comedy classics entitled Best of Comedy. Visitors will get to enjoy the big-screen incarnations of Ernst Lubitsch’s Ninotchka, Blake Edward’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. For film buffs who don’t mind cinema outings by night, Late Night Show will once again present a collection of offbeat films that defy the criteria of both art-house and mainstream film distribution. Films with a distinctive approach to expression and storytelling will be the focus of a selection of films entitled Love and Anarchy. Another popular section is European Corner, which offers the opportunity to see new releases from acclaimed directors or intriguing newcomers, from countries whose work does not reach mainstream distribution. The most extraordinary non-European pictures made in the last fifteen months will yet again be featured in the section Around the World, where visitors can look forward to new releases from renowned directors and pictures freshly bestowed with Oscars, Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards.
The festival’s prestigious Golden Camera Award for exceptional contributions to the field of cinema will be awarded to director Václav Vorlíček and cinematographer Stanislav Szomolányi. This year the Actor’s Mission Award will be accepted and placed on the Bridge of Fame by prominent Czech actor Josef Abrhám.
Art Film Fest will also provide an attractive array of accompanying film-related events. Young screenwriters and dramaturges can look forward to the eight-day international workshop MidPoint, where novice European filmmakers will develop their projects under the guidance of Slovak and international experts. And for producers, the festival will once again feature the six-day MAIA workshop. To celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Paľo Bielik, one of Slovak cinema’s most distinguished figures, a release ceremony in cooperation with the Slovak Film Institute will be held for Petra Hanáková’s new book on Bielik, in addition to a screening of a restored print of Captain Dabac.
Pleasant relaxation will be provided by traditional concerts at the festival’s Spa Hall café in Trenčianske Teplice, as part of the concert series Every Evening Live with Oskar Rózsa. Concerts in Trenčín have become a festival tradition, and they’ll be back this year on the city’s main square.
As in previous years, one of the 18th annual Art Film Fest’s unifying features will be a distinctive conceptual logo, the result of an open competition primarily aimed at art-school students. A selection committee evaluated more than forty submissions from twenty registered applicants, and in the end the winner was declared Adrián Juráček from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava (the studio of graphic design professor Stanislav Stankoci, academic painter). Juráček used the theme of the section Football Is Our Life as an inspiration for his work. “I didn’t want to take a representational approach, so I chose just a fragment, specifically something found at football stadiums: an information board assembled from individual panels, where animated scores, information and photographs are pictured. Black and white panels will provide information about the festival. The panels’ constant background will consist of stills from films screened at Art Film Fest, which lends the logo a human quality,” explains designer Adrián Juráček.
Festival screenings will be held at three projection venues in Trenčín: CINEMAX Trenčín, the Cultural and Methodological Centre of the Slovak Military (a.k.a. ODA or Kultúrne a metodické centrum Ozbrojených síl Slovenskej republiky), and ArtKino Metro, and at two cinemas in Trenčianske Teplice: Prameň Cinema and the Tatra Banka Cinema Tent. This year, festival evenings will be enlivened by two Bažant Cinematograph buses – one on Štúr Square in Trenčín and a second in Trenčianske Teplice.
And for the third time, students up to 26 years of age (born in 1984 and later) will get to attend Art Film Fest for free. All they have to do is request a cinepass by filling out a simple registration form at the festival website by the end of May. All registered students will be issued a cinepass at the festival’s registration area, where they will have to show evidence of their study (transcript, school report, confirmation of attendance, an ISIC student’s card, etc.). From 19.6, student cinepasses will be on sale for 5€ at festival box offices.
—————————– The Art Film Fest International Film Festival Trenčianske Teplice/Trenčín is made possible through the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund and the European Union Programme MEDIA. Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., Forza, a.s.
Co-organizers: the Town of Trenčianske Teplice, the City of Trenčín, the Trenčianske Teplice Health Spa Media Sponsors: Slovenská televízia, televízia Markíza, FilmBox, Televízia Central, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, Pravda, .týždeň, Markíza, Pardon, Cinemax, Kam do mesta, zoznam.sk, ISPA, SITA, Q-EX, Boomerang Media