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SLOVAK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL CELEBRATES A JUBILEE

Art Film Fest hits its 20th anniversary

“WHEN something exists for 20 years, it can be called a lasting tradition. Our Art Film Fest is that old and only Matica Slovenská, the Slovak cultural institution, and Slovakia’s bryndza cheese have existed longer,” said Milan Lasica, the president of the festival, as he opened the jubilee year of this international event in Trenčianske Teplice on June 16.

“WHEN something exists for 20 years, it can be called a lasting tradition. Our Art Film Fest is that old and only Matica Slovenská, the Slovak cultural institution, and Slovakia’s bryndza cheese have existed longer,” said Milan Lasica, the president of the festival, as he opened the jubilee year of this international event in Trenčianske Teplice on June 16.

On opening day the organisers presented awards for lifelong contributions to the cinematic world with this year’s Golden Camera award going to Slovak Dodo Šimončič, who has been the cameraman for about 60 movies and 50 TV shows over more than 30 years, and a second Golden Camera going to Russian film director Andrei Konchalovsky who has been successful in his home country as well as in Hollywood, the TASR newswire reported.

This year’s crystal Actor’s Mission Award went to French actress Emmanuelle Béart and on June 17 she had the honour of placing a board with her name on the bridge in the town’s Festival Park. Czech film and theatre actor Miroslav Donutil received the same award on June 20 and British actor Ben Kingsley, known for his roles in Gandhi and Schindler’s List, is scheduled to receive the third actor’s award on June 23.

Zvonky šťastia (Bells of Happiness) was one of the Slovak films premiered in Trenčianske Teplice and the title is from a song that was popular in the 1980s, performed as a duet by Slovak singer Darinka Rolincová (now known as Dara Rolins) and Karel Gott, an internationally-famous Czech singer. Bells of Happiness is a documentary film telling the story of two Roma cousins, Mariena and Roman, who both adore the two singers and dream about meeting them. Admiring their songs, fame and lifestyles, they decide to send a DVD to the two singers with a video greeting and a Roma remix of their duet from the 80s. The movie follows the process of recording this message and provides background about life in their Roma community.

The film was directed by Marek Šulík and Jana Bučka, two moviemakers who had already released a documentary about life in Roma villages called Cigarety a pesničky (Cigarettes and Songs). Bučka told the SITA newswire that she and Šulík had attempted to contact Rolins and Gott to ask them come to Art Film Fest to watch the documentary and record their reactions but the filmmakers were unsuccessful in arranging this. Gott did not respond, according to Bučka, but she said “maybe this is just as well as the story is stronger in the dream world than if we actually got to see them”.

The documentary will be later screened at the Karlovy Vary film festival in the Czech Republic and its directors also hope to distribute it to various independent culture centres that have shown an interest in screening it.

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