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International film festival comes to quaint Trenčianske Teplice

Anyone who has lived in Slovakia for a while will realize that the country has a lot of film lovers. Film clubs in Bratislava and other cities show a wide selection of movies from countries all over the world.
The problem for non-Slovak speakers, of course, is that these movies are often in a third-language they don't understand, subtitled only in Slovak or Czech. But the frustration is over: at least for a while. This weekend in Trenčianske Teplice, a mere hour and a half from Bratislava, an international art film festival of surprising stature and renown is about to turn the lovely spa village Vladimír Mečiar calls home into Slovakia's own Cannes. And did we mention: every film is subtitled in Slovak and English.


Woody Allen's film, Celebrity (1998), will be shown at the festival.
photo: Courtesy of Intersonic

Anyone who has lived in Slovakia for a while will realize that the country has a lot of film lovers. Film clubs in Bratislava and other cities show a wide selection of movies from countries all over the world.

The problem for non-Slovak speakers, of course, is that these movies are often in a third-language they don't understand, subtitled only in Slovak or Czech. But the frustration is over: at least for a while. This weekend in Trenčianske Teplice, a mere hour and a half from Bratislava, an international art film festival of surprising stature and renown is about to turn the lovely spa village Vladimír Mečiar calls home into Slovakia's own Cannes. And did we mention: every film is subtitled in Slovak and English.

The International Art Film Festival 1999 will feature a wide range of "artistic films" which will compete in a variety of categories for either a Gold or Silver key award. Each of the festival's seven days, which span from June 18 to June 25, will highlight the artistic film production of a different country: including Poland, Ireland, the Czech Republic, France, Israel, the Netherlands, and Austria. A star-studded international panel of judges will choose the winning works, and a variety of international film stars and celebrities are scheduled to attend.

This seventh annual festival will feature along with full-length films, documentaries, and shorts, a wide range of accompanying events such as a fashion show, jazz concerts, Jewish musical performances, a photography exhibition, students' works from the Academy of Fine Art in Bratislava, and a tennis competition. The Ministers of Culture from the Visegrad Four countries (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary) are due to attend. A seminar on the theme "Film and the 20th century" will be led by Czech director Jiří Menzel, French director and actor Allain-Robbe Grillet and other notables. Need we say more?

The festival will be opened by the Yugoslav film released in 1998 "Black Cat, White Cat" by Emir Kusturica (director of the film "Underground"). The movies will then compete in one of three categories. Art Fiction is the main competition category, featuring five films, including the American "Velvet Goldmine" (1998, directed by Todd Haynes). The Artefakty category will field 27 documentary films about art and artists from 21 countries. The "On the Road" category will match 18 student films from 13 countries against each other. Finally a non-competitive section, "Art Film Fest," features five popular movies including Woody Allen's "Celebrity" (1998).

Officially organized under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the festival is dedicated to films which advance the possible development of audio-visual art in the next century. The "art" films shown are not only about art but also, said program director Vladimír Štric, "the festival stages films with innovative film language, which describes interesting and phenomenal events of this world in a highly creative way. The selection of 380 movies which were chosen by the three of us, me, Martin Ciel and Vladimir Mlčoušek (both professors at the Academy of Drama and Art in Bratislava) are an attempt to offer the best of the best. "

This year, visitors will have the opportunity to meet Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski, Italian actress Michele Placido from the TV series "Octopus," and Czech actress Iva Janžurová. Even the regular visitor will have a chance to brush shoulders with the stars due to the festival's pleasant and intimate atmosphere.

The Irish film day on Sunday, June 20, will likely be attractive for foreigners. Visitors can stay for the weekend in Penzión Vodnár, Baračka 30, Tel.- 0831-55 24 66. If that's full, try getting accommodation in Trenčin, about 10 km away. There, try the Hotel Tatra, Štefánikova 2, Tel.: 0831-506-111 or Domov mládeže (hostel), Staničná 6, Tel.: 0831-522-380. See The Slovak Spectator travel guide for more details.

All film performances can be see for free and for the program. For further information and exact programs, visit http://www.artfilm.sk or call Tel.: 07-54 41 93 72.

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