The Slovak Film Institute (SFI) celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and this is the 15th year of publication of the monthly Film.sk. Currently, the SFI is managed by General Director Peter Dubecky and it consists of two basic units – the National Film Archive (NFA) and the National Cinematographic Centre (NCC).

The Film Archive Department, Documentation and Library Services Department and the Mediatheque fall under the NFA; the SK CINEMA integrated information system and the Digital Audiovision Project are also related to it. In simplified terms, it can be said that the NFA’s main role is to maintain the Slovak audiovisual heritage. The Film Archive Department, accordingly, is concerned, on an ongoing basis, with the professional storage, treatment and preservation of archival film materials, as well as with their restoration and rendering them accessible. The Project of Systematic Restoration of Audiovisual Cultural Heritage is closely related to the work of the archive.

The NFA contains not only film collections but also written documents related to a specific film, its production, promotion or reflection. The Documentation and Library Services Department takes care of these and similar funds.

The SFI is gradually digitising its collection and archival funds, and cataloguing them in order to render them accessible via the SK CINEMA information system. The membership of the SFI in international organisations contributes to the efficient management and utilisation of archival collections. The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) is one of the most prestigious – the SFI has been a full member since 2001.

The NCC, together with its departments (Film Events Department, Audiovisual Information Centre, as well as, in part, the Publications Department), seeks to bring Slovak film and information on it as close as possible to the public both at home and abroad by means of various activities and in collaboration with film organisations and events. The SFI has been a member of European Film Promotion (EFP) since 2006, so it is part of a network of more than thirty European film organisations which promote their national cinematographies. “We have stable foreign partners – festivals and markets; we collaborate with them closely. We have our fixed place at the markets in Berlin and Cannes. When working with film archives, the biggest step forward we have made is that the SFI is able to offer restored and digitised films. That opens up many possibilities to us and it also enhances our standing,” remarks the Director of the NCC, Alexandra Strelková.

The SFI has had its official shop, Klapka.sk, since 2008. It offers goods related to film, especially Slovak film. The shop sells DVDs and CDs, film publications, magazines, calendars and posters. In 2013, over 1,400 publications and almost 6,000 DVDs were sold.

At the same time, the SFI operates a cinema which has been entitled Cinema Lumière since 2011. Films for demanding audiences are screened in the cinema and it attracts more and more audiences. While in 2012, the cinema attracted 36,155 viewers, the number last year was over 52,000. All four screening rooms and further premises for the public should be renovated shortly, whereby a modern digitisation workplace of the SFI has been established in the basement.

The Creative Europe Desk Slovakia, functioning since January 2014 as a consultancy centre focusing on the new programme of the European Commission, Creative Europe, also falls under the aegis of the Slovak Film Institute.

Daniel Bernát, Mariana Jaremková


Digital Audiovision Is One of the Most Important Projects

The national Digital Audiovision Project has been one of the ongoing priorities of the Slovak Film Institute (SFI) since 2011. Systematic digitisation and making the digital content accessible through memory and fund institutes are the main objectives of the Project. This is the largest digitisation project in respect of the audiovisual heritage in the Slovak Republic and the SFI makes use of European Union funds for its implementation.

The national Digital Audiovision Project is implemented by the Slovak Film Institute in tandem with its partner, Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS). Its objective is to build two specialised digitisation workplaces and to digitise at least 58,700 audiovisual cultural objects. The outcome of the project in the SFI will include at least 1,000 digitised film objects with descriptive metadata for long-term storage in high and low definition, and RTVS will digitise the remaining 57,700 audio and video objects. At the same time, the Digital Audiovision Project will create the basis for systematic handling of these digitised audiovisual objects in current formats which meet European standards, it will save a selected part of works from mechanical destruction or other devaluation and it will also facilitate access to works to be used for educational, training, scientific and research purposes.

Due to its extent, Digital Audiovision is a unique project within the entire European region. It will create the conditions for digitisation of the audiovisual heritage in Slovakia up to 2015, when the implementation of its main activities will be finished, but also for the period of a further five years of sustainability of the project’s results. As the digitisation of archive collections is a longterm procedure, the main focus is to build a digitisation workplace to enable the SFI to continue this process even beyond 2020. The chief objective is to create a comprehensive functional and systematic unit of the SFI digitisation workplace with direct links to the entire process of storing the Slovak audiovisual heritage and rendering it accessible, which is one of the basic functions of the SFI as a memory institute.

The SFI digitisation workplace was completed by the end of 2013 and the pilot operation should commence in the first quarter of 2014. According to Peter Csordás, a digitisation expert and also quality and control manager of the Digital Audiovision Project, its technological equipment will meet the current requirements of modern film archives and distribution channels for audiovisual works. He says that “the complete processing chain is designed for a 4K/2K resolution. It consists of an efficient archival film image-scanner, archival sound-transcription, work-stations for digital image and sound-retouching, film and digital projection, grading workplaces, digital library and the digitised objects management system”. The workplace will be used for the film conversion itself, for restoring the image and sound part of the work, production of the digital master and its derivatives, as well as for preservation activities with the film media after conversion and also for the creation of digital media for long-term archiving, due also to data migration for future generations. Updates of descriptive data in the information system and making the digitised works accessible via the SK CINEMA information system will also form part of the work.

Simona Nôtová

Further Major Projects of the Slovak Film Institute

Project of Systematic Restoration of Audiovisual Cultural Heritage and Making It Accessible: this long-term project was started in 2006 by the SFI Film Archive staff. The project’s objective is to systematically protect and gradually restore the audiovisual heritage primarily on film media, all the while maintaining the original quality, whereby it is necessary to comply with all norms and standards of archiving activities. New 35-mm film materials on a more durable polyester base are currently being produced in the Bonton Zlín Studios in the Czech Republic. With regard to the project, digitisation operations were carried out in 2008 – 2011; the outcome was a set of completely restored selected titles in 2K resolution on new digital media HDCAM SR 4:4:4 and their duplication for the purpose of making them available on Digital Betacam, Betacam SP, DVD, CD, VHS. Once the Digital Audiovision Project is launched, a large part of the digitisation works will be carried out within this national project.

– SK CINEMA Project: this is a long-term information system project which the SFI has been implementing since 2002. The SK CINEMA information system is used for processing, saving and presenting the information and knowledge acquired, created and utilised by the individual SFI departments. By degrees, all the collections, funds and artefacts managed by the SFI, as well as the information and knowledge from Slovak audiovisual culture and cinema art, will be subject to processing by the information system software methods, emphasising Slovak cinematic works and the creation of the Slovak national filmography. In particular, historiographical research and cataloguing activities are carried out in the processing of film, archival, documentation and library collections and funds within the SK CINEMA information system; the outcome is the records which, according to category, are included in one of the following databases: Slovak Film Database, SFI Catalogue, SFI List of Entries. Since 30 November 2013, these SFI databases have been accessible on the Internet through the SK CINEMA film portal which is in trial operation at the following address: http://www.skcinema.sk. The content of the portal is available in the Slovak language; its English version is in preparation.

– The presentation of Slovak cinema and audiovision abroad has been one of SFI’s priority projects since 2009; thanks to this project, the SFI promotes Slovak cinema to a broader and greater extent at numerous events abroad, with financial support from the Ministry of Culture. The project represents a natural extension of the SFI’s ordinary activities and possibilities, with the aim of enhancing the extent and frequency of the presentation of Slovak cinema and audiovision, outside of the scope of SFI’s normal activities; it is in compliance with the objective to extend and intensify the accomplishment of the SFI’s mission and the roles carried out in accordance with the Audiovisual Act (No. 343/2007) in the area of the presentation of Slovak cinema and audiovision. The National Cinematographic Centre carries out and manages the project on behalf of the SFI. Financially demanding presentation stands at international film markets, the European Film Market in Berlin and the Marche du Film in Cannes, are the main pillars of the project. It covers the distribution of film materials from SFI’s National Film Archive for foreign presentation, as well as the reaction to the development of digital technologies, the issuance of promotional publications about Slovak cinema and audiovision, the travelling costs of SFI staff and film professionals to selected events, etc.

– The SFI has 24 films available on DCP and a further nine are planned for 2014.
– The SFI has 42 full-length films available on HDCAM SR 4:4:4 and a further 53 short documentary and animated films.


The SFI Offers the Best Beyond the Borders

The Slovak Film Institute (SFI) collaborates with foreign companies also in order to present to international audiences the top-quality works of Slovak cinema on DVD. Malavida Films presents them to the francophone market and the SFI recently started to collaborate with the British Second Run. Hence, films by Štefan Uher, Peter Solan, Dušan Hanák and Juraj Jakubisko have crossed the borders of Slovakia.

The French company Malavida included the first Slovak films in its production plan in 2010. At that time they released titles from the golden era – the 1960s – and there was no way The Sun in a Net (Slnko v sieti, 1962, dir. Štefan Uher) could be missing; it is regarded as the “starter” of the Czechoslovak New Wave. There were also two films by Juraj Jakubisko in the first batch of DVDs – The Prime of Life (Kristove roky, 1967) and Birdies, Orphans and Fools (Vtačkovia, siroty a blázni, 1969) – and the drama The Boxer and Death (Boxer a smrť, 1962) by director Peter Solan. In the second batch in 2012, films by Dušan Hanák were released on DVD – specifically 322 (1969), Pictures of the Old World (Obrazy starého sveta, 1972), Rosy Dreams (Ružové sny, 1976), I Love, You Love (Ja milujem, ty miluješ, 1980), which also won the Silver Bear for Best Director at the Berlin IFF, and finally Paper Heads (Papierové hlavy, 1995) – the last full-length film by the director to date. And this year, thanks to Malavida, DVDs with films by Štefan Uher – The Organ (Organ, 1964), The Wonder-Maid (Panna zázračnica, 1966), Three Daughters (Tri dcéry, 1968) and If I Had a Gun (Keby som mal pušku, 1964) – gained access to the francophone audiences, as well as the composite narrative film Dialogue 20 40 60 (Dialóg 20 40 60) which was made by Slovak director Peter Solan, his Polish colleague Jerzy Skolimowski and Czech filmmaker Zbyněk Brynych.

Last year the SFI started to collaborate closely with the British independent company Second Run which released on DVD the previously mentioned The Sun in a Net, with the reputation of being a breakthrough film of Czechoslovak cinema, as the first Slovak title. This film will be followed by Birdies, Orphans and Fools (dir. J. Jakubisko), The Dragon’s Return (Drak sa vracia, dir. Eduard Grečner) and Pictures of the Old World (dir. D. Hanák).

The Sun in a Net was released on DVD in August 2013. It contains an introduction spoken by British director Peter Strickland; the context of the period, the authors and the circumstances under which the film was made are clarified by a study by English film historian and critic, Peter Hames. The English edition of the DVD The Sun in a Net received a positive response. In 2013, the website DVD Beaver named it the DVD of the Month for September and the prestigious magazine Sight & Sound also devoted space to a review of this film. The author of the text, Michael Brooke, calls this film the most exciting discovery by Second Run since Marketa Lazarová (Marketa Lazarová, dir. František Vláčil) and Sinbad (Szindbád, dir. Zoltán Huszárik) were released on DVD. At the same time, he states that, although Uher greatly influenced the filmmakers of the Czechoslovak New Wave and his film is regarded as its basis, The Sun in a Net has scarcely ever been presented abroad. However, a number of reviews affirm that Uher’s film continues to look vital even fifty years after it was made and they appreciate the technical quality of the DVD.

Daniel Bernát


Publication Activities of the SFI

The Slovak Film Institute (SFI) is the sole domestic publisher specialising exclusively in the publication of professional film literature and its DVD production, mapping the history of Slovak cinema, is also exceptional.

In 2013, the SFI issued three filmological works – the monograph Diptych Štefana Uhra – Organ a Tri dcéry (Diptych of Štefan Uher – The Organ and Three Daughters) by Eva Vženteková (in collaboration with the FOTOFO publishing house and the Academy of Music and Performing Arts), a collection dedicated to the works of French director Alain Resnais Kinematografia mozgu (Cinema of the Brain; in collaboration with producer s. r. o.) and the publication Eros, sexus, gender v slovenskom filme (Eros, Sexus, Gender in Slovak Film) by Eva Filová. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the institute’s establishment, SFI’s Publications Department prepared a promotion publication in English entitled Best of Slovak Film 1921 – 1991. “Last year we also published bi-lingual Slovak-English film yearbooks for the period of 2006 to 2010 all together in one volume, for the first time on digital media and also available on the renovated website www.sfu.sk,” said the Head of the Publications Department, Marián Brázda. In 2013, further projects were in preparation, one of which is the work by authors Peter Michalovič and Vlastimil Zuska which analyses westerns. It is scheduled for publication in the first half of 2014 under the title Rozprava o westerne (Discussion of a Western).

The 2014 edition plan also includes the publication of the proceedings of the 15th Czecho-Slovak Filmological Conference, Film and Memory. “Over the course of the year, the publication prepared by the Documentation and Library Services Department is expected. It should provide the public with information on the institution itself, on its history and present activities, on the services rendered by the SFI and, in particular, on the collections and funds it maintains.” Marián Brázda also refers to the issue of the promotional text Naše filmové storočie (Our Film Century) by František Gyarfáš and Juraj Malíček, or of the 2011 and 2012 Film Yearbooks (again in digital form). The updated History of Slovak Cinema (Dejiny slovenskej kinematografie) holds a special position in the SFI’s publication plans. This comprehensive publication was first published in 1997 and the second, extended edition is planned for 2015.

“As regards last year’s most significant DVD titles, Martin Šulík’s debut Tenderness (Neha) and the re-edition of Dušan Hanák’s Pictures of the Old World (Obrazy starého sveta) deserve to be mentioned. The double DVD with films by Dežo Ursiny – 6x Dežo Ursiny, was very successful; August ‘68/November ‘89 was also in great demand. And we also re-issued Forty-Four Mutineers (Štyridsaťštyri).”

Forty-Four Mutineers was issued on the occasion of the centenary of the start of World War 1 and, on the same occasion, the issue of Martin Hollý’s Signum Laudis is planned for 2014, for the first time in Blu-ray format. Leopold Lahola’s The Sweet Time of Kalimagdora (Sladký čas Kalimagdory), complemented by the director’s short film A Small Episode (Epizódka), is a much-anticipated DVD. “As regards the big projects, the 5-DVD A Week in Film (Tyždeň vo filme) needs to be mentioned. A large collection of Blu-ray Discs is also under preparation; the issue should be complete in 2015. The collection should combine works from the golden fund of Slovak cinema along with current works,” concludes Marián Brázda.

Every DVD has also English subtitles. All the publications of the SFI are available in the shop of the Slovak Film Institute – Klapka.sk at Grösslingová 43 in Bratislava. The assortment available in the shop can also be ordered on the shop’s website www.klapka.sk.

Mariana Jaremková


Best of Slovak Film 1921 – 1991

The British film historian and film critic, Peter Hames, writes about thirty-five Slovak films made between 1921 and 1991 which are among the key works of Slovak cinematography. Hames writes in the form of brief observations detailing the characteristic attributes of the given work. Excerpts from media reactions to the given film are added after every contribution. The book also includes profiles of the directors who made the selected films.

Slovak Films 13 – 14

The bi-lingual Slovak-English handbook provides information on Slovak films made in 2013 and about projects planned to be premiered by the end of 2014. Each film includes a brief summary and the names of the filmmakers, information on distribution, festival participation and awards, the filmography of the director and contact information on the producers. In addition, the publication also includes a Practical Guide and Industry Directory.

DVD Forty-Four Mutineers

On the occasion of the centenary of the start of World War 1, the Slovak Film Institute released Paľo Bielik’s Forty-Four Mutineers (Štyridsaťštyri, 1957). The film had already been released in the successful DVD collection Slovak Film of the 1940s and 1950s (Slovenský film 40. a 50. rokov) but the new release of this film has been complemented by a further five language versions. The film tells the story of the mutiny by Slovak soldiers against officers of the Austro-Hungarian army.


DVD Pictures of the Old World

In the documentary Pictures of the Old World (Obrazy starého sveta, 1972), director Dušan Hanák was inspired by the pictures of photographer, Martin Martinček, and he visited distant corners of the country to unveil the inner beauty of old people and to sensitively read their stories from their faces and hands. The DVD also contains five short films made by Dušan Hanák: Artists (Artisti), Practice (Učenie), Old Shatterhand Came to See Us (Prišiel k nám Old Shatterhand), The Mass (Omša) and A Day of Joy (Deň radosti).


DVD 3x Peter Solan

The Slovak Film Institute released three films by Peter Solan on DVD, thereby paying tribute to one of the most significant Slovak directors who passed away in September 2013. The DVD contains Solan’s full-length feature debut The Devil Never Sleeps (Čert nespí, 1956) made in collaboration with director František Žáček, in addition to his most famous film The Boxer and Death (Boxer a smrť, 1962) which plays out a remarkable duel within the confines of a Nazi concentration camp between a “commandant” and a “prisoner” and the final film, Before Tonight Is Over (Kým sa skončí táto noc, 1965).


2-DVD August ‘68/November ‘89

Six documentaries capture key moments of Czech and Slovak history related to the attempts to apply “communism with a human face” and the subsequent invasion of the allied forces in 1968, and to the Velvet Revolution in 1989. The DVD August ’68 contains the films The Time We Live (Čas, ktorý žijeme), Black Days (Čierne dni) and The Wake (Tryzna). The other DVD, November ’89 contains Flight Report OK 89 – 90 (Letová správa OK 89 – 90), All Together... (the Slovak Way) (Všetci spolu... (po slovensky)) and Probe No. 1/1990 – Velvet Revolution Train (Sonda 1/1990 – Vlak nežnej revolúcie).