The Dolphin Defender won Ekotopfilm

THE INTERNATIONAL jury of Ekotopfilm, an international film festival with a special emphasis on sustainable development, awarded the Ekotopfilm 2006 Grand Prix Prize to the American film The Dolphin Defender. The film tells the story of Hardy Jones, a man who became fascinated by dolphins three decades ago. Even though many people said that filming these mammals in the open sea was impossible, Jones set out to do just that.

During the 33th year of the festival, which lasted October 23-27 in Bratislava, Monaco's Prince Albert II received the Honour of Ekotopfilm for his contribution to protecting the environment and sustainable development. The prince has been bringing attention to the consequences of global warming, the quick decline of bio-diversity and pollution.

The festival, with its 121 films from 30 countries, including 114 films in the competition, is moving to Košice, where it will take place between November 7 and 9.

One World spectators approved of Favela Rising

AMERICAN-Brazilian film Favela Rising attracted the most spectators at the One World Film Festival, which took place in Bratislava between October 25 and 29.

Directed by Jeff Zimbalist, the film is about Anderson Sa, who dreamed of building a better society from his urban ghetto in Rio de Janeiro. To this end, he assembled a group that's resolved to use music to struggle against their harsh living conditions. Sa founded the musical group Afro-reggae, which not only became a resistance group against the mafia and police but also gave rise to the establishment of a children's arts academy that uses the arts to keep children off drugs.

About 12,500 visitors came to see the festival's seventh year, which contained more than 60 films that dealt with global social, cultural and political issues.

Tomáš Svoboda won Crazycurators Award

CZECH visual artist Tomáš Svoboda won the first year of the biennial exhibition of contemporary art, Crazycurators Biennale. He received the award for a replica of his flat in Prague installed in the Space Gallery in Bratislava, done on a scale of 1:1.

Svoboda, who was also recently nominated for the Czech Republic's most prestigious prize, the Jindřich Chalupecký, is known for selling advertisment space in his apartment to large corporations.

The biennial exhibition opened in early October, and is a result of a cooperation between curators from Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Slovakia, of which each brought "his or her" artist. They also commonly decided to which exhibited artist the prize will go.

As Space gallery director Juraj Čarný explained for the TASR news wire, the attribute biennial was selected to lure more sponsors and the public's attention to the contemporary visual arts. The organizers focused on a close and systemic contact of the artist with the curator, which is often missing in larger exhibitions, such as The Venice Biennale or The Prague Biennale.

Publishers and booksellers created Book Paradise

FIVE Slovak and two Czech publishing houses have put together the Book Paradise pilot project, which starts in Slovakia on November 1. It aims to get as close as possible to readers and bring them a colourful offer of interesting books via a special catalogue to be distributed directly in their mail boxes.

Mária Lešková, PR manager of the Ikar publishing house, told the SITA news wire that this project is a unique cooperation of booksellers and publishers and represents the first such cooperation between competing publishing houses.

The project joins publishing houses Ikar, Noxi, Fragment, Belimex, Spektrum Grafik, Domino and Knižní Klub and almost 50 booksellers from around Slovakia.

On November 1, 800,000 Book Paradise catalogues were distributed to households in the towns in which participating booksellers are located.

The catalogue offers a wide spectrum of books of various genres for adults, children and youth of the above publishers, including Czech books that focus on the most recent releases.

Those interested can look for offered books and participating publishing houses and booksellers at www.kniznyraj.sk.

Alexander Dubček exhibition in Bratislava Castle

THE OPENING of the "Statesman, Democrat, European" exhibition in Bratislava Castle on October 28 marked the 85th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Dubček, arguably the most famous Slovak or Czech stateman of the last century.

Dubček, who died in a car accident in late 1992, was the chairman of the Czechoslovak Communist Party during the famous 'Prague Spring' era of 1968, when Warsaw Pact troops invaded the former Czechoslovakia in order to suppress movements toward freedom and 'Socialism with a Human Face', a phrase forever associated with Dubček.

The exhibition, prepared by the Slovak National Museum - Historical Museum, together with the Alexander Dubček Society and the Slovak Parliamentary Office, shows Dubček's life from his birth in Uhrovec to his tragic death via photographs, personal quotes and items. It is open to the public between October 29 and November 19 on the second floor of Bratislava Castle.

Tomb of 5th century Germanic leader

This tomb is an absolutely unique finding in Europe.
photo: SITA

ARCHAEOLOGICAL research into the tomb of a Germanic magnate in Poprad-Matejovce, has confirmed that the grave belonged to a member of the social elite who lived on this territory at the turn 4th and 5th centuries.

"Ancient resources called them regulus, small king," Karol Pieta from the Archaeological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Nitra said. The significance and, in particular, the condition of the well-preserved vault has caused archaeologists to compare it with that of Ancient Egyptian ruler Tutankhamen.

"It is better preserved than anything that has been found in Europe so far," Pieta added. Currently, only fragments of vaults have been found, and in Poprad, a whole structure, including a roof, was preserved. Archaeologists usually only come across such findings in the Orient or Egypt.

The vault was robbed shortly after the Germanic magnate, a member of a northern Carpathian group, probably the Vandals, was buried. Pieta assumes thieves stole several precious items, including the complete golden decoration of the vault, weapons, and other items. "We know that such chiefs wore golden bracelets weighing 0.5 of a kilo just as some 'businessmen' currently wear thick golden chains," Pieta said. Nevertheless, the archaeologists are not disappointed because, in spite of this, they found many things in the vault, some of which belonged to the magnate and some to the burglars, including organic materials. It is unique that the whole outer and inner chambers of the vault have been preserved.

During the research, the archaeologists found a bronze pot, other vessels, an iron axe with a handle, a hoe, metal arrow heads, pieces of furniture, and inner paneling in the vault. They even found hazelnuts.

The grave even held half a skeleton, from which experts can set the basic parameters.

The vault has preserved brocaded textiles, clothes decorated golden threads, and leather products. Pieta thinks that these will be even more precious than those of gold. The archaeologists also have found one gold coin made into a locket, which has helped them to date the vault. "It is a standard Roman coin of Caesar Valens, who died near Adrianople in 378 during a battle with Germanic tribes. The coin was manufactured in 375, thus we know that this grave must be younger. Radiocarbon dating confirmed that the grave is from the period after 380 and other hints indicate that it dates back to the second decade of the 5th century," Pieta said. Experts had a chance to admire the coin, as well as some other findings, in the Podtatranské Museum in Poprad during an international conference on October 30.

Work on the vault should continue for the next two or three weeks. The archaeologists have to remove the outer as well as inner chambers of the vault from the soil. All these parts will then be sent to Germany for conservation. The archaeologists are also under a deadline because a production hall is being erected directly above the vault.

The conservation work may last as long as three years. Afterwards, the vault will be rebuilt in Poprad with all artefacts found in it, and opened to the public, as well as experts.

Construction workers found the wooden construction of the vault during work on an industrial park in October 2005. The first examinations indicated that this might have been a bunker from the Second World War.

Slovak castles get money, need more

New piping is planned to solve the water shortages at Spiš Castle.
photo: SNM

BRATISLAVA Castle, a main attraction for thousands of tourists every year, is falling apart. The government has set aside Sk50 million (€1.37 million) for its repair, but one billion crowns is what is really needed, the Nový Čas daily reports.

Cracks have appeared in the castle's walls and floors, the north tower is unstable, and the building's electrical system, plumbing, heating, and drains are all in need of repairs, yet no extensive repair work has been carried out since 1968.

However, Anna Lenická from the parliamentary press office is still optimistic. "We believe that this initial sum represents a pledge that the complete restoration of this historic building has begun", she said.

Krásna Hôrka and Spiš Castles, also popular among tourists, have received a total of Sk20 million from the SPP Foundation for reconstruction and to make them more accessible for visitors. The gas utility's foundation allocated the money within the Let's Renew Our House project.

Deputy director of the Slovak National Museum in Bratislava Branislav Rezník said that, thanks to this money, the museum will construct a new water and sewage branch in Spiš Castle and reconstruct courtyards and the entrance area of Krásna Hôrka.

The new piping will solve a centuries-long problem with water shortages. For the time being, water is being brought to Spiš Castle by cisterns and is being held here in storage tanks. Used water is diverted into a septic tank. However, this solution has turned out to be problematic, since the tank trenches the nearby castle wall.

The project of water and sewage piping is probably the most daunting aspect of salvaging and restoring Spiš Castle, one of Slovakia's monuments on the UNESCO Cultural Heritage List. Work is projected to start in March of next year, with the end planned for November.

Bad drainage of courtyards and problematic paving causes problems to Krásna Hôrka, a dominant figure of the Gemer region. The funds from the foundation will cover 90 percent of the cost of the reconstruction launched in September.

The manor house in Rusovce is another national monument in desperate need of money. The Administration of Facilities at the Cabinet Office, under which the manor house belongs, has not allocated a single crown for its restoration in five years. This means the results of the restoration it invested Sk93.3 million into between 1995-2000 may be completely destroyed, the Sme daily wrote.

After a complete reconstruction, a plan for which was drawn up ten years ago, the manor house should have become an accommodation facility for visiting dignitaries. But due to a shortage of funds, the project has gone uncompleted. Nowadays, the project itself needs an update.

Moreover, the heirs of the manor house's former owners and adjacent buildings have demanded Rusovce award them restitution.

- Jana Liptáková