Days of Slovenian Film in Belgrade
Between 8 and 11 December, the seventh Days of Slovenian Film will take place at the Yugoslav Cinematheque in Belgrade. The event will be opened at 6 p.m. by the short animated documentary Granny’s Sexual Life by the director Urška Djukić and the documentary feature The Slovenian Who Flew Through a Century by the director Dušan Milavec. This year, Djukić’s film had its world premiere at one of the most important animation festivals in Ottawa, North America, and has just won the Audience Award at the Animateka festival. It is a brief excursion into the history of the intimacy of an old lady from the countryside, summing up the relationship in which women in the first half of the 20th century were, in the context of strict church doctrines and general social conventions, perceived as objects for the satisfaction of their husbands’ sexual desires. The film was inspired by the women’s testimonies that Milena Miklavčič collected in her book Fire, Butts and Snakes Are Not to Be Toyed With. The screenplay was written by the director, who also edited the film, and co-written by Maria Bohr. Émilie Pigeard is the co-director and animator. The voices were recorded by Doroteja Nadrah, Jure Henigman, Mara Vilar, Božena Zabret, and Bojana Ciglič. The music was composed by Tomaž Grom. Sound design by Julij Zornik. The film received the Vesna Award for Special Achievements at the 24th Festival of Slovenian Film in Portorož. The Slovenian Who Flew Through a Century tells the story of Jurij Kraigher, an Austro-Hungarian pilot and flight instructor who served in the aviation of the Kingdom of SHS. He was a pioneer of intercontinental flights at Pan American Airways and set a world speed record. During World War II, the US Army extracted thousands of downed American pilots from the Balkans under his leadership, and he participated in the rescuing of Marshal Tito during the Raid on Drvar.
The screening will be followed by the opening of a poster exhibition at 7:30 p.m., followed by two more film screenings at 8 p.m: the short film titled Days of Slovenian Film in Serbia by Vladimir Šojat, followed by the legendary live-action feature Farewell until the Next War by the director Živojin Pavlović. While vacationing in Spain, two former mortal enemies meet: Berk, a Slovenian partisan, and the German soldier named Bitter, who fought in Yugoslavia in the ranks of the occupying forces. In the friendly and relaxed touristy atmosphere of Spain, their dialogues rekindle the memories of the times of war when they were adversaries. Their conversations are supplemented by the scenes showing Berk’s recollections of wartime events and people, among whom Anton, an experienced fighter from the Spanish Civil War, plays a particularly important role. Berk spent most of his partisan days with Anton – until Anton’s tragic death towards the end of the war. The multiple award-winning film stars Metod Pevec, Boris Juh, Hans Christian Blech, Milan Puzić, Tanja Poberžnik, and Jožica Avbelj. After its solemn premiere in Ljubljana, this will be the first screening of the digitally restored version of the film abroad.
At noon on the following day, a round table will be organised titled Živojin Pavlović in Slovenian Cinema. At 6 p.m., the short documentary Workers Are Leaving the Factory by the screenwriter and director Neja Tomšič will be screened. This video essay revisits one of the first film images ever recorded: workers leaving the factory. In doing so, it looks at both sides of the specific moment and place, the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, in 2021: the shiny, guarded door of the entrance to the shipyard and the images of what this gate protects. The work qualified for the competition programme of this year’s 24th Festival of Slovenian Film. It will be followed by the full-length documentary Piran Underground by Iztok Aberšek. The work introduces the viewer to Piran in a unique and special way: the entire film is set in the wintertime when the main protagonists are just the town’s inhabitants themselves. The walk through this unusual gallery of happiness, sadness, beauty, crime, love, loneliness, idealism, and sometimes irreparable optimism is presented by the film and theatre actor Valter Dragan, who is from Piran himself. The screenplay was written by Dragan and Aberšek.
At 8 p.m., the short animated film My Father’s Damn Camera! by the director Miloš Tomić and Once Were Humans by Goran Vojnović will be screened. In the former, a roguish little boy persistently and mischievously seeks the attention of his father, a photographer. The very confrontation with his father’s artistic chaos and his almost obsessive fascination with photography-as-life ultimately becomes the crucial element in the consolidation of the boy’s bond with his father during his coming-of-age journey. For the story that combines hand-drawn and stop-motion animation in a collage technique, the author of the film My Father’s Damn Camera! borrows the photographic archive of the Slovenian photographer Dragiša Modrinjak as his inspirational starting point while drawing on the personal experience of a filmmaker: his father.
Meanwhile, Vojnović’s film Once Were Humans focuses on Leo, an Italian who lives in Slovenia, and Vučko, a Bosnian who came to Slovenia as a child refugee. Faced with the prospect of losing their restaurant, they have no choice but to accept an offer from Gianni, a swindler: they are tasked with stealing Gianni’s truck so that he can collect the insurance money. However, the two friends mistakenly steal the wrong truck and discover an unexpected cargo… Starring Francesco Borchi, Moamer Kasumović, Maruša Majer, Emir Hadžihafizbegović, Boris Cavazza, Jasna Žalica, Vlado Novak, Gregor Bakovič, and others.
On Friday, 10 December, at 6 p.m., the short documentary student film Ash Dust by the screenwriter and director Aljoša Nikolič and the full-length documentary Sons of Bora by the director Miha Čelar will be shown. The latter tells the parallel story of two sons of the bora wind: Kras, a Karst Shepherd that becomes a shepherd dog, and Slavc, Slovenia’s most famous wolf that starts a wolf pack. The viewers are introduced to the world of wolves by Dr Miha Krofel, a renowned Slovenian biologist who studies wolves all over Europe. At 8 p.m., these two films will be followed by the screening of the live-action short Autumn Hay by the screenwriter and director Lana Bregar, which premiered at the last Sarajevo Film Festival. The teenage girl Loti is lying in the tall grass, daydreaming of her mother. When her grandmother calls her, she suddenly finds herself surrounded by the reality of life on the farm. Starring Tara Krvina and Draga Potočnjak. Visitors will also be able to see the feature film Sanremo by the screenwriter and director Miroslav Mandić. It tells the story of Bruno and Duša, who live in a retirement home. They occasionally meet and spend time together, only to keep forgetting that they know each other. Nevertheless, every new encounter makes them happy. Starring Sandi Pavlin, who won the Best Actor Award for his role as Bruno at the last Leskovac Film Festival in Serbia, Silva Čušin, Mojca Funkl, Boris Cavazza, Lara Komar, Barbara Cerar, Barbara Vidovič, Safet Mujčić, Vladimir Jurc, Doroteja Nadrah, Jurij Drevenšek, and others. The film is the Slovenian candidate for the International Academy Awards. It had its world premiere at last year’s 24th Tallinn International Film Festival.
On Saturday, the last day of the festival, the audience will have the opportunity to see the live-action short White People by the director Našek Križnar from 1970, followed by the full-length documentary Pumpkin on the Hot Roof of the World by the directors Nejc Saje and Jeffrey Young. The film is an inspiring portrait of the extraordinary poet Tomaž Šalamun, who lived for art and tirelessly kept lighting the spark of creativity in others. For more than fifty years, he was fully committed to his art, sometimes at a high price. His verse, charisma, and heartfelt support for poets made him revered all around the world, especially in the United States of America, but his private life was marked by many struggles and refusals to compromise. In 2019, the film received the Vesna Award for Special Achievements at the Festival of Slovenian Film.
At 8 p.m., the live-action short ’91 by the director Luka Štigl and the feature film Deadlock by the director Vinko Möderndorfer will be screened. Deadlock had its world premiere in the main competition programme of the 49th International Film Festival FEST in Belgrade. It tells the story of an encounter between two married couples from the opposite ends of the social scale, which, at first glance, seem to have nothing in common. However, an accident and a tragic event bring these people together fatefully in a single night and most likely until the rest of their lives. Starring Mirjam Korbar, who won the “Tree of Love” Award for Best Actress at the 15th Mostar Film Festival, Peter Musevski, Uroš Fürst, and Barbara Cerar. Co-starring Ivo Ban, Klemen Kovačič, Mila Fürst, Benjamin Krnetić, Igor Žužek, Branko Završan, and others.
Even before the official beginning of the Days of Slovenian Film in Belgrade – on Monday, 6 December – it was possible to watch the following experimental documentary shorts: You Can’t Automate Me by Katarina Jazbec, Swan by Evelin Bizjak, Neja Rakušček, Monika Rusak, Ružica Anja Tadić, and Tjaša Tomc, Workers Are Leaving the Factory by Neja Tomšič, Framing Sutherland by Matjaž Jamnik and Gaja Naja Rojec, Ash Dust by Aljoša Nikolič, and Intrusion by Matevž Jerman and Niko Novak. At 8 p.m., the live-action shorts Sudden Gust of Wind by Davor Kral, Autumn Hay by Lana Bregar, and ’91 by Luka Štigl were screened.
The Days of Slovenian Film are organised by the Sava Society (association of Slovenians in Belgrade) and sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia, the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, the National Council of the Slovenian National Minority, the Slovenian Film Centre, and the Yugoslav Cinematheque.