Culture shorts

Film festivals circulate Blind Man

THE 80-SECOND clipart Blind Man, a work by Canadian director Martin Fazeli and Slovak producer Lenka Krajčíková, will appear at over 20 film festivals about to take place across the world, including the Amnesty International Film Festival EXPOSE, United Nations Association Film Festival and Chicago International Film Festival.

The work's creators say its aim is not to be commercial, but to offer an affecting view of the world's problems, which can often seem peripheral.

"In a world ruled by consumerism and technology, few contemplate what's going on around us, even though crises abound, such as starvation in Africa or India, intolerance, or cival war," the film's press release states.

Miloslav Luther in Tatra cinema

BRATISLAVA'S Tatra cinema will profile renowned Slovak filmmaker and screenwriter Miloslav Luther. The only film within the retrospective to be screened with English subtitles is the 1988 film Štek (Bit Part).

Štek is a sad comedy about an unsuccessful actor (Bolek Polívka) at a provincial theatre who is offered the main role in a play of an ambitious playwright. The film will be screened on May 22 at 20:30.

Luther's latest feature film is the 2002 Czech-Slovak-Hungarian drama/romance Útek do Budína (Escape to Buda), which captures the history of changes after the fall of the Austria-Hungarian monarchy. Other films include stories about events during WWI, Anjel milosrdenstva (Angel of Mercy), and WWII, Chodník cez Dunaj (A Path Across the Danube). In co-production with West Germany, he made the fairy tales Kráľ Drozdia brada (King Thrushbeard) and Mahuliena zlatá panna (Mahuliena, Golden Maiden).

Slovak drama succeeds in France

THE SLOVAK National Theatre scored a major triumph at the Theatre National de Nice last weekend with the play Tančiareň (Dance hall). The audience applauded heartily and called for several encores.

The play's creators, Martin Huba and Martin Porubjak, took their inspiration from the Theatre du Campagnol's Le Bal, directed by Jean-Claud Penchenat, which premiered in France in 1981 and was adapted by theatres around the world. The Slovak play presents a mosaic of the country's history from the 20th century narrated through dance.

According to SND spokes-person Izabela Pažítková, the exceptional success in Nice has brought about offers from other French towns, including Paris. Tančiareň has also had domestic success. Since its premiere in 2001, it has been performed 135 times and received several prizes, including the Polish Culture Ministry award.

Nine countries join into one magazine

TEN literary publications from nine Central and Eastern European countries have merged into Magazine in Magazine, a multi-lingual project that promotes and exchanges contemporary literature.

The project includes the Slovenian Apokalipsa, Slovak Romboid, Hungarian Jelenkor, Austrian Literatur und Kritik, Croatian Quorum, Polish Studium, Czech Host, Montenegrin Ars and Macedonian Naše pismo and Blesok.

The selection of authors and works is made by the home country and offered to the partner's magazine. It contains poetry, prose, interviews, essays as well as reviews by critics.

"Literature abroad is mostly presented through translations into the world's main languages. The project's aim is to translate the works into the languages of the participating countries," writer Stanislava Chrobáková Repar, who initiated the project with her husband, Primož Repar, from Apokalipsa, told the TASR news wire.

Slovak photographers exhibit in London

YOUNG Slovak photographers Tomáš Agat Blonski and Viktor Kopasz are displaying their works in London within the project We Are - My sme - My jestesme - Mi vagyung - My Jsme. The exhibition of contemporary European photography runs in the Old Spitalfields Market until June 4.

Diaries by Kopasz include reflections on attempting to find one's own roots. Destinies Full of Spirits by Blonski draws intimate connections between the depth of one's being and existence in time and space.

Apart from the Slovak photographers, visitors can also see works by the Polish couple Andrzej Kramasz and Veronika Lodzinska. Their series is presented under the theme of Home and depicts the changes their country is undergoing. Summerhouses by Veronika Zapletalová, from the Czech Republic, addresses the unchanging traditions that form the fabric of national identity.

New monthly on Bratislava and Vienna

TWIN City Journal, a new monthly magazine about cultural events in Bratislava and Vienna, recently premiered. It has 52 colourful pages available in Slovak, German and English and can be picked up free of charge in Bratislava's information and culture centres, hotels and foreign institutes.

The magazine has replaced the Slovak-German monthly, which was published between October 2005 and February 2006 and supported by the European Union. Twin City Journal, published by the Bratislava municipality, also contains interviews with personalities and representatives from both capitals, as well as information on the cities' development.

"Twin City Journal will continue until the end of the year. Then we'll see what the next step is," Editor-in-Chief Henrieta Hrubá told TASR.

Rafters return to the Hron River

PM Mikuláš Dzurinda "unlocks" the rafting season on the Hron.
photo: SME - Ján Krošlák

RAFTERS from the central Slovak town of Zvolen returned to the Hron River for only the second time in 60 years on May 8 to open the new rafting season.

"The First Rafting Union of the Hron River made all the preparations for the rafters' return, their voyage and the jamboree to follow. This season will test whether we prepared well," Vladimír Ivanko, manager of Prvé pltnícke združenie na Hrone, told the TASR news agency.

Last year, Dancing Rafts, an attraction that brought people back after a decades-long pause, was new on the river. "Now many more people know about it. During the voyage, 'travellers' will get acquainted with the history of the region, Slovakia's third oldest town, Zvolen, and the nearby Pustý hrad [castle ruins]," Ivanko said.

Dancing Rafts operate on two basic routes. One starts at the bridge in Sliač and ends at the nearby Matúšov dvor in Zvolen. The second leads from a jetty in Zvolen to a port in Budča. The rafting season can last until September or October, depending on the weather.

Zvolen rafters operate three 12-person rafts to carry tourists. Depending on the amount of interest and the weather, they are available every day from 10:00 to 16:00.

The Váh filled with rafters

Rafting under Strečno Castle used to be dangerous.
photo: TASR

THE RAFTING season for the Váh River in westnorthern Slovakia started in mid-May. The main attractions of the voyage, which lasts about one hour, are the remains of the Strečno and Starhrad Castles and the Margita a Besná rocks, which create a gap in the river. The hillsides of the Strečno are broken, steep and with many cliffs. The Váh creates whirlpools as it elbows its way through the rocks, once dangerous for raftsmen.

Rafters hope this season will be even better than last year, when they transported between 5,000 and 6,000 tourists down the eight-kilometre route. Prvá pltnícka a raftingová spoločnosť operates six 12-person rafts on the river. Tourists can listen in Slovak, English and German.

"Our clients are in particular Polish and Czech tourists, as well as guests from the spas in Rajecké Teplice or Bojnice," said Pavol Prístach from the rafting association.

The Dunajec opens as well

Blessing the rafts at Dunajec.
photo: SITA

THE TRADITIONAL blessing of rafts opened the tourist season on the Dunajec River in northern Slovakia during the May 13-14 weekend. About 320 tourists boarded rafts in Červený Kláštor to take the hour-and-a-half trip to the village of Lesnica, where folk musicians, traditional bryndzové halušky (cheese dumplings) and goulash were waiting for them.

The 11-kilometre voyage offers a view of the splendid nature along the river, including the magnificent Tri Koruny Hill.

Since last spring, the place where Jozef Kubáni, a journalist for TV Joj, almost drowned has drawn a lot of attention. Therefore, rafters named the spot "Kubáni's Jump" and mention it to tourists during the trip.

Most surprising is that four clubs of quarrelling rafters that run 60 rafts in total have managed to agree at least on the price of tickets during the current season, which lasts until the end of October.

Back to movies

SLOVAK cinemas are enjoying increased visitor numbers this year. For the first three months of 2006, around 720,000 people went to the movies, a 61 percent growth year-on-year.

Anton Ondrejka, the head of the Slovak Film Distributors' Union, estimates that around 3.5 million tickets will be sold by the end of this year, compared to 2.2 million last year, the SME daily wrote.

Cinema operators ascribed the increased visitor numbers to the fact that more family movies are being shown in Slovak movie halls. Blockbusters include the Harry Potter series, Ice Age 2 and the new Pink Panther movie.

Coming movies such as The Da Vinci Code and Pirates of the Caribbean are expected to maintain the positive trend.

The Slovak movie scene has experienced great changes since the fall of Communism in 1989. In 1993, when independent Slovakia was established, 8.9 million movie tickets were sold in 456 movie halls across the country. Both numbers have been decreasing ever since. Currently there are 220 movie halls in Slovakia.

Back in 1993, the price of a ticket was around Sk19 (€0.5), compared to the current average of Sk90 (€2.4).

3D cinema finds new home

ORANGE IMAX, the only cinema in Slovakia showing 3D films, closed in Bratislava's Avion Shopping Park on May 2.

Failure to agree on a new rental contract between Inter IKEA Centre Slovensko, BOF and Solarfilm, which operates the facility, was the reason behind the closure, the Pravda daily reported. Ivan Sollár from Solarfilm confirmed the cinema will move to new premises on Pribinova street and might reopen in 2009.

Orange IMAX has proven popular over the years despite its high ticket prices. Almost 231,000 moviegoers visited it in 2005, slightly higher than the 229,000 it welcomed one year earlier.

The cinema opened on October 31, 2002. By the end of 2005, it had screened nearly 11,000 films, received over 795,000 visitors, and hosted 26 premieres.

Compiled by Jana Liptáková
from press reports

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