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Expats receive millions in support

SLOVAK associations and organisations abroad received more than Sk17 million (€529,000) in support in 2006, the TASR newswire wrote.

Requests for financial support from the budget of the Bureau for Slovaks Living Abroad (ÚSZZ) were assessed by an inter-departmental committee for project approval. As many as 447 requests from the World Association of Slovaks Living Abroad and from 110 other organisations in 22 countries were evaluated in two rounds.

The highest number of requests came from Serbia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia and Canada, with the overall sum requested exceeding Sk64 million. The committee approved 238 applications, mostly related to projects in the field of culture. A high percentage of applications, in particular from the countries of southeastern Europe, were related to publishing.

In addition, organisations for Slovaks living abroad obtained Sk110,000 for their activities last year from the Slovak President's Office and the prime minister's special fund.

According to ÚSZZ, there are currently 2.223 million Slovaks living abroad.

Slovak film at Karlovy Vary

Boris Farkaš (left) and Marko Igonda in a scene from Meeting the Enemy.
photo: Farbyka

SLOVAKIA was represented at the prominent international film festival in Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. Marko Škop, whose documentary Iné svety (Other Worlds) won two prizes at the festival last year, sat on the jury for the East of the West section.

In this section, Slovakia had its only film competing at the festival, a debut by Patrik Lančarič, Rozhovor s nepriateľom (Meeting the Enemy). The story, based on a novella by Leopold Lahola, is about looking for a principle of humanity. The film takes place during a single day at the end of the Second World War in a raw countryside covered with snow, over which a German soldier escorts a captive to his execution.

The audience also saw a Slovak documentary by Martin Šulík about the doyen of Slovak film - Martin Slivka, muž, ktorý sadil stromy (Martin Slivka: The Man who Planted Trees). As Šulík told the Sme daily, the show was sold out and after the screening, he answered questions from the audience, which included prominent Czech director Věra Chytilová.

During the second half of July, Prague will host a reprise of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, and Šulík's film is among the 30 movies selected from the festival programme of 250 films.

SND Opera gets new director

Oliver Dohnányi.
photo: SITA

CONDUCTOR Oliver Dohnányi replaced Peter Mikuláš as director of the Slovak National Theatre (SND) Opera on July 1. Mikuláš took the job in September 2006 and led the department through the difficult move to the new opera house on the Danube embankment in April, the SITA newswire wrote.

Mikuláš said he stepped down in order to dedicate his energy to his career as a soloist.

In his new position, Dohnányi's priorities are to make full use of the new premises, to schedule operas at least three years in advance, and to give more opportunities to SND soloists as well as Slovaks with successful careers abroad. He also wants to open the opera house to new names in direction and conducting.

The new director also plans to expand the SND audience by introducing new genres, such as operettas or productions in co-operation with the SND Ballet and Drama companies. He also wants the SND Opera to perform abroad more often.

Over the last few years, Dohnányi has conducted in such prominent opera houses and orchestras as the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Yomiuri Nippon, Tokyo, the Pressburg Philharmonic, The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphonietta and others. When the SND offered him the director's position, he gave up his positions as principal director of the Opera at the National Theatre in Prague, the principal director of the Slovak Radio Orchestra and the Slovak Sinfonietta of Žilina.

Detva latest site of open-air festival

Folk costumes leave men's midriff bare.
photo: SITA

THE MARATHON of open-air folklore festivals continued in Detva last weekend. The 42nd annual three-day festival, which started on July 6 drew more than 20,000 visitors to this Slovak town. They saw 1,400 performers from both Slovak and foreign ensembles, the public Slovak Television (STV) reported after the festival.

The festival director Pavel Ľalík told the STV that the handicrafts market was one of the most successful accompanying events of the festival programme. Slavomír Albert, a folk craftsman who makes kitchen utensils for shepherds, has noticed an increasing interest in his products, "as if people have been oversaturated with the consumer way of living and are returning to their roots".

The closing show on Sunday, Festivity Below Poľana, introduced children's ensembles followed by local folk dance and music ensembles from Detva.

By Jana Liptáková

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