Ten classics from the Slovenian film treasury to be shown in Brussels in December
The Retrospective of Slovenian Film opens on Thursday, 2 December, at 19:00 in Brussels. Between 2 and 22 December 2021, ten feature-length classics from the Slovenian film treasury – from the silent beginnings to present day productions – will be shown on the big screen of the Royal Belgian Film Archive in Brussels. The retrospective will open with a showing of the first Slovenian silent feature-length film In the Kingdom of Goldenhorn (V kraljestvu Zlatoroga) accompanied by live original music.
Film creativity in Slovenia began quite late: the first feature-length sound film was made in 1948. Despite the late start, however, the cinematic expression evolved quickly and soon caught up with European and world cinema. Slovenian film history features many important film authors and markedly diverse film opuses. This diversity is also demonstrated by the selection of films included in this retrospective.
The introductory silent film In the Realm of Goldenhorn from 1931, directed by Janko Ravnik, will come to life in the Royal Belgian Film Archive with live original music played by a quartet. Besides the music's composer Andrej Goričar on piano, the quartet comprises of Matej Haas on violin, Milan Hudnik on violoncello and Jakob Bobek on clarinet. With its stunning shots of nature, the film captivated its first audiences and continues to enthuse viewers today with its autochthonous depictions of the mountains and mountain life.
It will be followed by films of various genres made by the most important Slovenian filmmakers over a period of nine decades: France Štiglic, Boštjan Hladnik, Jože Babič, Matjaž Klopčič, Karpo Godina, Živojin Pavlović, Andrej Košak, Janez Lapajne and Rok Biček. The retrospective thus also offers an exceptional insight into the social and historical development of Slovenia.
Štiglic denies the partisan film the usual war heroism and uses unique poetics to elevate it into an emotionally charged lyrical cry of pacifism (Valley of Peace, 1956). In Don't Go Back the Same Way (1965), Jože Babič boldly and realistically describes the life and marginalisation of seasonal workers whose hands are ‘building a bright future’ – “But whose?” Babič asks loudly.
A more radical departure from realism, which coincides with the ‘new waves’ in world cinematography of the 1960s, is demonstrated by Boštjan Hladnik and Matjaž Klopčič, autonomous researchers of film form. Hladnik made an exciting film Dance in the Rain (1961), in which the characters and viewers move between reality and the labyrinths of mentality, while Funeral Feast (1969) by Matjaž Klopčič is a poignant portrayal of the fates of young individuals whose growing up is fatally marked and accelerated by wartime.
Karpo Godina and Živojin Pavlović (a Serbian filmmaker who frequently worked in Slovenia) are daring researchers of cinematic expression whose films (often wittily) implied criticism of political elites. Pavlović's highly controversial Farewell until the Next War (1980) is a bitter account of the political dilemmas of the individual in the chaos of war, while Karpo Godina's Raft of Medusa (1980) looks back, describes the Yugoslav avant-garde of the early 20th century, flirts with Dadaism and Surrealism, but also addresses the social relations of the present day.
Andrej Košak's Outsider (1997) takes a step out of Yugoslavia into Europe, as it critically examines youth in the shackles of politics in the former Yugoslavia. The growing up portrayed in the film, however, still resonates with some nostalgia – for the heyday of the punk subculture. Short Circuits (2006) by Janez Lapajne and Class Enemy (2013) by Rok Biček present Slovenian cinema that keeps pace with Europe – intimate stories reflecting the state of society in the Western world.
If we look at the programme of the Slovenian Film Retrospective and beyond, at the Slovenian film landscape, we can point to the free creative approach of filmmakers as the common denominator of Slovenian film. The films are often enriched by completely independent formal and narrative approaches, the authors' strong sense of society and the individual, and their critical view of the socio-political circumstances of contemporary times and the intimate situation of everyman.
The retrospective is organised as part of the Slovenian Presidency by the Slovenian Cinematheque together with the Slovenian Film Centre and the Slovenian Film Archives section of the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia, in cooperation with the Royal Film Archive of Belgium and with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.
Retrospective of Slovene Film
2. 12. 2021 at 19:00
In the Realm of Goldenhorn (V kraljestvu Zlatoroga)
Janko Ravnik, Slovenia (Kingdom of Yugoslavia), 1931, DCP (35mm), BW, silent, 77'
Live musical accompaniment: music – Andrej Goričar; performers – Andrej Goričar (piano), Matej Haas (violin) Jakob Bobek (clarinet) and Milan Hudnik (cello).
A student from Ljubljana, an ironworker from Jesenice and a peasant agree to make a trip to the "realm of Goldenhorn", that is, the Slovenian "holy mountain" – Triglav. On the way, they meet haymakers, foresters and a forest ranger. In the evening, they put up a tent. The next day, they visit shepherds and spend the night at a beautiful shepherdess’. On the third day, they ascend Triglav and then, through Bohinj, return to Bled, where they part ways. A docu-fiction mountain film.
4. 12. 2021 at 21:00
Valley of Peace (Dolina miru)
France Štiglic, Slovenia (Yugoslavia), 1956, DCP (35mm), BW, 88'
After the American bombing of a Slovenian town during World War Two, Marko and Lotti become parentless. At the orphanage, Lotti tells Marko about a valley where peace always reigns. Determined to find the "valley of peace", the two children run away from the orphanage. On the way, they meet the American pilot Jim. In 2016, upon its sixtieth anniversary, the restored version of this early classic of Yugoslav war cinema, which brought John Kitzmiller the Best Actor Award at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival, was presented in the festival’s prestige section Cannes Classics.
7. 12. 2021 at 19:00
Dance in the Rain (Ples v dežju)
Boštjan Hladnik, Slovenia (Yugoslavia), 1961, 35mm, BW, 97'
Peter (Miha Baloh) is a painter. One evening, a woman visits him in his rental room. When he dismisses her, his dreams take him to a rainy street where he stares at the only lit window, in which a female silhouette appears, making inviting gestures. Later, at a pub, Peter sits down next to his lover Maruša (Duša Počkaj), a theatre actress, whom he breaks up with after lunch. A black melodrama in an expressionistic modernistic style. In the opinion of many critics, the best Slovenian film of all times.
9. 12. 2021 at 19:00
Don’t Come Back by the Same Way (Po isti poti se ne vračaj)
Jože Babič, Slovenia (Yugoslavia), 1965, DCP (35mm), BW, 91'
One evening, a fight breaks out in front of a pub. Mačor (Davor Antolić) and Abdu (Ljubiša Samardžić), two seasonal workers, run away across the railway tracks and then stop, breathless. Mačor recalls how he came to Slovenia: promising him a good salary, a construction company representative recruited him to work in Slovenia. In Slovenia, seasonal workers lived in barracks on the construction site and sent money home – some more, some less (or none at all). Their old home was far (also from the heart), while the new environment did not become their home. The first Slovenian film exploring the troubles faced by seasonal workers from other Yugoslav republics. Precisely, realistically and uncompromisingly, the film shows the conditions that the workers live in, and the financial and personal troubles they have to deal with in a foreign and unfavourable environment. A sharp critique of the mentality of the locals that do not accept the newcomers even though they very much need them in the structure of their economy.
12. 12. 2021 at 17:00
Funeral Feast (Sedmina)
Matjaž Klopčič, Slovenia (Yugoslavia), 1969, DCP (35mm), colour, 91'
Ljubljana, the spring of 1941. Niko (Rade Šerbedžija) and Marija (Snežana Nikšić) are just about to graduate from high school when the maelstrom of war engulfs Slovenia and remorselessly cuts short their carefree school days. The Italians occupy the city; Niko has his first love experience and joins the resistance against the enemy. Experiencing love and death, he becomes a man. One of Matjaž Klopčič’s key films, adapted from the eponymous novel by Beno Zupančič.
13. 12. 2021 ob 21.15
The Raft of Medusa (Splav Meduze)
Karpo Godina, Yugoslavia, 1980, 35mm, colour, 100'
Film se spopade z vzdušjem dvajsetih let prejšnjega stoletja na jugoslovanskem podeželju, zato ga od začetka do konca bogatijo literarni in vizualni elementi dadaizma in nadrealizma. Podobno kakor pri ubežnikih na Gericaultovem splavu Meduze je glavni poudarek filma na možnosti napredka znotraj nereda. Glavno vprašanje filma se glasi: je avantgardizem na Balkanu imel smisel? Ironično-nostalgična pripoved o avantgardnem umetniškem gibanju.
15. 12. 2021 at 21:15
Farewell until the Next War (Nasvidenje v naslednji vojni)
Živojin Pavlović, Slovenia (Yugoslavia), 1980, DCP (35mm), colour, 117'
During their vacation in Spain, two former deadly enemies meet: Berk (Metod Pevec), a Slovenian partisan, and Bitter (Hans Christian Blech), a German soldier that fought in Yugoslavia as a member of the occupying forces. In the middle of the pleasant, touristically relaxed Spain, their dialogues bring to life the memories of the war in which they were enemies. Their dialogues intertwine with vivid images depicting their personal memories of the people and the events from the time of war. A controversial, epic story about an intellectual in the chaos of war, adapted from Vitomil Zupan’s Minuet for Guitar.
17. 12. 2021 at 19:00
Andrej Košak, Slovenia, 1997, 35mm, colour, 110'
The film takes place in 1980 and tells the story of Sead, a young man from a mixed family - his father s a Yugoslav army corporal from Bosnia and his mother is a housewife from Slovenia. Sead grew up in various towns throughout Yugoslavia. The film begins with his arrival in Slovenia, where he continues his education at a secondary school in Ljubljana, and ends up tragically in the period marked by Tito’s death. Sead’s problems begin when he falls under the influence of the punk movement, joins a music band and begins to move away from the behaviour patterns of his patriarchal environment. The conflict is inevitable.
20. 12. 2021 at 21:00
Short Circuits (Kratki stiki)
Janez Lapajne, Slovenia, 2006, DCP (35mm), colour, 105'
At night a city bus driver finds an abandoned baby near a stop. A divorced man comes to pick up his excited son for the weekend. A pretty doctor befriends a quadriplegic. Out of this unfolds a delicate story of human relationships, in which through feelings of sympathy and guilt the protagonists are confronted with different ways of looking at events.
22. 12. 2021 at 21:15
Class Enemy (Razredni sovražnik)
Rok Biček, Slovenia, 2013, DCP, colour, 112'
Due to a huge difference in the way they perceive life, the relationship between the students and their new German language teacher becomes critically tense. When one of the students commits suicide, her classmates accuse the teacher of being responsible for her death. The realisation that things are not so black and white comes too late.