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Bratislava 2018


This book was published with financial support from the Slovak Ministry of Culture and the Slovak Audiovisual Producers’ Association.

Text © Peter Hames, 2013, 2018 All rights reserved © Slovak Film Institute, 2013, 2018 ISBN 978–80–85187–62–5

Since the Slovak Film Institute executes the rights of authors to audiovisual works produced by state organisations before 1991, this volume introduces Slovak films made up to that year. A selection of thirty-five features, Best of Slovak Film presents the highlights of the Slovak audiovisual milieu chosen by the Slovak Film Institute’s Editorial Board consisting of leading experts in various fields of the history of Slovak cinema: Václav Macek, Jelena Paštéková, Martin Ciel, Peter Michalovič, Mária Ferenčuhová, and Martin Kaňuch. In recent years, the Slovak Film Institute has released the majority of these films in its several DVD editions of Slovak Film of the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The publication was first issued in 2013 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Slovak Film Institute. The 750 copies then printed were fully sold out over the following years, hence the Slovak Film Institute has made the decision to re-issue it for this year’s 55th anniversary of its establishment. The general public – from film enthusiasts through various cultural institutions, up to film experts, critics and journalists – have expressed a very lively interest in the publication from the moment it was published. It has become a welcome aid for organisers of film events, a practical instrument for the promotion of Slovak cinema abroad and, last but not least, for commercial use of the individual works for their screening in cinemas or on TV. Not just protection but also the distribution of Slovak films, increasing their exposure abroad, are some of the basic missions of the Institute. Issuing publications of this kind significantly aids such intentions.



Introduction When the independent state of Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, there were a variety of views on Czech and Slovak identity. The first president, Tomáš Masaryk, whose father was Slovak and mother Moravian, argued that Czechs and Slovaks constituted two linked but separate linguistic and ethnic identities. This view is undoubtedly the most persuasive since it recognises the reality of separate cultures alongside the notion of continuing co-operation and collaboration. Despite the fact that Jánošík [Jaroslav Siakeľ, 1921] was one of the early feature films created in the newly formed state, there was no independent Slovak feature film industry between the two world wars. There was nonetheless important work, notably that of the Czech ethnographer and photographer, Karel [Karol] Plicka, who devoted himself to the recording of Slovak folk culture, and whose feature documentary, Zem spieva [The Land Sings, 1933] was one of four Czechoslovak films to receive awards at the 1934 Venice Film Festival. Two of the remaining three films, Gustav Machatý’s Extase [Ecstasy] and Tomáš Trnka’s short documentary Bouře nad Tatrami [Storm Over the Tatras] both made use of the Slovak landscape. In 1936, the Czech director

Martin Frič made the internationally recognised Jánošík, in which the Slovak actor Paľo Bielik played the legendary Slovak outlaw. Bielik in turn was to become a key director in the newly formed Slovak feature industry after the Second World War.



A number of post-war Slovak films were made by Czech directors such as Frič and Václav Wasserman while early films by Slovak directors included Bielik’s Vlčie diery [Wolves’ Lairs, 1948] and Ján Kadár’s Katka [Cathy, 1949]. Kadár subsequently moved to Prague, where, in collaboration with Elmar Klos, he made two notable Slovak subjects with Smrt si říká Engelchen [Death is Called Engelchen, 1963], from the novel by Ladislav Mňačko, and Obchod na korze [The Shop on Main Street/A Shop on the High Street, 1965] from the novel by Ladislav Grosman, which was the first Czechoslovak film to win a US Academy Award in 1966. Shot partly in Slovakia, The Shop on Main Street has been described as the first Czecho-Slovak co-production. Paľo Bielik remained active in the 1950s and 1960s but the 1960s also saw a shift towards what is now termed art cinema in the first films of Štefan Uher, and Eduard Grečner. The partnership between Uher and the novelist Alfonz Bednár

heralded a significant chain of development, and Slnko v sieti [The Sun in a Net, 1962] – now digitally restored – proved to be a landmark film, its creative innovation preceding the birth of the Czech New Wave in the following year.

films from this period, Hanák’s Obrazy starého sveta [Pictures of the Old World, 1972] and Ja milujem, ty miluješ [I Love, You Love, 1980] were instantly banned.

While Slovak production maintained a separate identity, both Czechs and Slovaks studied together at FAMU [the Prague Film School] and creative interaction was the norm. Nonetheless, in the late 1960s, the focus for innovation seemed to shift to Slovakia through the work of Juraj Jakubisko, Elo Havetta, and Dušan Hanák – signalling, as the screenwriter, Lubor Dohnal put it, the move from a cinema based on politics to one based on aesthetics. Coproduction with Western Europe was also a feature of the period, with three of Jakubisko’s films made with Italian or French partners, and two SlovakFrench co-productions of films by Alain Robbe-Grillet.

The realities of the free market created after the fall of Communism and the establishment of the independent Slovak Republic in 1993 led to a rapid decline in production that is only now beginning to re-establish itself. The one director to establish an international reputation in this period has been Martin Šulík, with Neha [Tenderness, 1991], Záhrada [The Garden, 1995], and, more recently, Cigán [Gypsy, 2011]. Šulík has also been active in documentary, most notably with his 26-part series Zlatá šedesátá [The Glorious Sixties, 2009], a further instance of Czech-Slovak collaboration, which provides a unique insight into the sources of the cinematic achievements of that era. Also, in recent years, one can point to the multiple awards gained by Juraj Lehotský’s documentary Slepé lásky [Blind Loves, 2008] and the international interest in Zuzana Liová’s Dom [The House, 2011], and Iveta Grofová’s Až do mesta Aš [Made in Ash, 2012].

What seemed initially like a charmed period of free creation, of course, came to an end with the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. One of the cultural consequences of the invasion was the fact that films produced in 1968-70 not only failed to achieve international exposure but also attracted the attention of bureaucratic censorship. During the period of socalled ‘normalisation’ [1969-89], Slovak production actually increased. Writing in The Oxford History of World Cinema [1996], the Polish critic, Marek Hendrykowski suggests that censorship in Slovakia was less rigorous than in the Czech lands and the presence of many films from this period in the current selection would seem to confirm this. On the other hand, many filmmakers found their careers at an end or chose exile and two of the most remarkable



Carefully selected by Slovak film historians, this catalogue of The Best of Slovak Film, 1921-91 provides a representative introduction to a rich tradition that has achieved considerable breadth in its arguably short history. Contemporary criticism offers useful contextualisation and there are detailed and informative filmographies. Many titles will be familiar but many more await their discovery by international audiences. Peter Hames




19 21

Jánošík Jánošík / b&w / 69 min. / silent movie Directed by: Jaroslav Siakeľ • Story: Gustav Maršall-Petrovský – based on the novel Jánošík, Captain of Brigands – His Turbulent Life and Horrible Death (Jánošík, kapitán horských chlapcov – jeho búrlivý život a desná smrť) / Jiří Mahen – based on the play Jánošík • Screenplay: Jozef Žák-Marušiak • Director of photography: Daniel Siakeľ / Oldřich Beneš • Cast: Theodor Pištěk (Juro Jánošík) / Karel Schleichert (Jánošík’s Father) / Mária Fábryová (Anička) / Vladimír Šrámek (Count Šándor) / Jozef Chilo (Pišta) / Ludvík Hušek (Ilčík) / Pavel Kutný (Hrajnoha) / František Horlivý (Priest) / Karel Fiala (Judge) / Ján Závodný (Innkeeper) / Július Schmidt (Baron Révay)




The first Slovak feature film, Jánošík, was produced by the Slovak-American Tatra Film Company based in Chicago. Initially adapted from a novel published in Slovak in the USA in 1894, it eventually drew on both popular legend and the play, Jánošík (1910) by the Czech writer, Jiří Mahen. Directed by Jaroslav Siakeľ and photographed by his brother Daniel, who both came from a filmmaking background, it was planned as the first of a sequence of films to be made in Slovakia. The story is explicitly presented as legend, with a group of present day figures being told the story by an

old peasant. After finding his mother dead, and following the death of his father after being beaten by his ‘masters’, Jánošík joins an outlaw band and becomes their leader. However, there is to be no killing since ‘death does not change anybody’. The story is based on the life of the real historical figure, and the film devotes as much time to the corrupt lives of the Hungarian landowners as it does to Jánošík’s free life in the mountains. The film features the Czech star Theodor Pištěk while the Siakeľ brothers demonstrate an easy familiarity with the techniques of contemporary Hollywood.

Press Coverage Many may have expected this silent film to make a grotesque impression today, and to look awkward or pathetic – like most films of the same period. Despite the time difference, this film is still sincere; we admire its lyricism and its remarkable visual perception. Unlike other films of its era, Jánošík sheds theatricality and aspires to tell the story by pure film language. Together with the spontaneity and enthusiasm of the acting, the film creates a magical, unforgettable atmosphere with a hint of melancholy, which inspires seriousness rather than derision.

This film is remarkable because the plot has several retrospective motives. Its humorous situations are just like similar scenes in American westerns made at the time. (...) The film was photographed with two cameras. A comparison reveals that the two versions are different not only by angles of perception but also by the arrangements of the actors in the scenes. This means that for each camera, individual shots were set up separately. (...) Jánošík remains the most significant achievement of Slovak cinema before 1945.

[ Jaroslav Filip: The Oldest Jánošík Film.

Slovak Filmmaking. Filmová revue 1/1996]

[ Richard Blech: Jaroslav Siakeľ, Pioneer of

Večerník, September 23, 1975]




Although our very first Jánošík may easily make us smile, it is a film of exceptional value and today’s audiences will be impressed by the inventiveness of the cinematography. In the context of its time, it is an incredibly visually dynamic film, especially considering that filming technologies were in their very beginnings at the time of its making. Another surprise is the story’s structure; it works well with timing and suspense. [(ek): The First Slovak Jánošík. Práca, June 25, 1975]

The film was made under remarkable circumstances. Jaroslav Siakeľ made it in 1921, his brother Daniel stood behind the camera, and their crew of 402 members worked from June till August, shooting at 20 locations in Slovakia, before finishing up in Prague. (...) In 1995, the UNESCO entered Jánošík on its list of World Cultural Heritage. [ Daniel Bernát: Jánošík Celebrates His Date with the Audience. Pravda, January 5, 2007 ]

19 33

The Land Sings [aka The Earth Sings] Zem spieva / b&w / 64 min. Directed by: Karol Plicka • Story and screenplay: Karol Plicka • Director of photography: Karol Plicka • Music: František Škvor • Editor: Alexander Hackenschmied




The best known Slovak film of the pre-war period, The Land Sings is essentially a poetic account of Slovak folk culture, composed as a musical and atmospheric experience. Karol Plicka was a musicologist, ethnologist, photographer, and director who played a major role in the creation of Slovak cinema, with a sequence of short films between 1928 – 34 and, above all, The Land Sings, made between 1930 – 33. Filmed without a script, the narrative follows country life through the course of the seasons, from the end of winter through to the grape harvest. The film was edited by

the Czech photographer and avant-garde director, Alexandr Hackenschmied (Alexander Hammid), who was very much interested in audio-visual combination, with a specially composed score by František Škvor. The film also uses inter-titles composed by Slovak poet Ján Smrek. Achieving a poetic level equal to the best work of Robert Flaherty, it is a remarkable film testament to living folk traditions and the integral link to nature that has been revisited in so many Slovak films.

Press Coverage The contents of The Land Sings are very simple. There are no film stars, no characters, plots or stories. It is a documentary film – a poem drawing inspiration from simple human life, which plays the main role. The film’s perfect internal structure is a base for its intense artistic power. Consistent interactions between the contents and the means of their expression result in strong individual components creating a poetical unit. The title of the film is not coincidental – it reflects both its essence and creative intention. The singing functions as a sovereign, integrating poetical factor. The Land Sings is a work of art where durability of aesthetical values is confirmed by time. From the historical perspective, Plicka’s film is a major artistic contribution and it is a classical work of Slovak national cinema with an honourable and permanent place in the history of world cinema. [ Martin Slivka: Karol Plicka – The Poet of the

20 Awards The Coppa Citta di Venezia award for Best Director in a collection of Czechoslovak films – 2nd Biennale Venice 1934



Image. Osveta, Bratislava 1982]

Ethnographic material serves here as a basis for a cinematic image of a nation, illustrating its vigorous life. It is a picture depicting harmony and beauty. Plicka penetrated into the ancient roots of the existence of the Slovak nation on the background of the eternal cycles of nature. [ Václav Macek: On the History of Slovak Documentary Cinema. SFÚ, Bratislava 1992 ]

19 57

Forty-Four Mutineers Štyridsaťštyri / b&w / 110 min. Directed by: Paľo Bielik • Story and screenplay: Paľo Bielik • Director of photography: František Lukeš • Music: Milan Novák • Editor: Jan Chaloupek / Judita Fatulová • Cast: Juraj Sarvaš (Viktor Kolibec) / Dušan Blaškovič (Tóno Mikleš) / Ivan Mistrík (Števko Badánik) / Július Vašek (Corporal Matej Frujak) / Ctibor Filčík (Captain Ervín Deutsch) / Andrej Chmelko (Major Balki von Dreznik) / Jozef Čierny (Corporal Nitsch) / Viliam Polónyi (Private) / Anton Michalička (Private)




In the spring of 1918, around 2,400 Slovak soldiers were sent to the Serbian town of Kragujevac after Russian internment. After they were then assigned to the Italian front, they revolted against the Austro-Hungarian army in early June, only a few months before the collapse of the Habsburg Empire. The rebellion – the largest of the war – was suppressed, 81 men were court martialled, and 44 sentenced to death. Paľo Bielik’s film provides a detailed account of what happened, centering on the story of Viktor Kolibec, who eventually becomes leader of the revolt. While focusing on his friendship

with fellow soldier, Tóno Mikleš, the film presents a complex portrait of life in the barracks as well as of the hand-to-hand fighting, brutality, and involuntary killing on the eastern front. Against the stark realism of the shooting of a shell shocked soldier, there is a lyrical presentation of scenes in Slovakia between Viktor and his girlfriend and subsequent wife, Julka. This is a conventional focus, but it also evokes the sentimental hopes and mood appropriate for wartime separation.

Press Coverage Overall, by this film Paľo Bielik once again convinced us about his vivacity and talent as a filmmaker with the ability to create atmosphere and set pace and cadence – especially in scenes where piercing, direct, tough manly characters and fates clash. He is sensitive in his work with the actors; he makes them perform in a way that is not theatrical – unlike in the unfortunate case of many other Slovak films. [ V. Protušová: Revolutionary or Anti-War Kragujevac. Kultúrny život 4/1958]

Forty-Four Mutineers is perhaps the most intense feature film of Slovak production ever. It is artistically mature and charged with dominant, contemporary way of thinking, fully centered on the present. It is a film that finally allows us to face the international forum without leaving us blushing with shame. [ Pavol Branko: Past for the Future. Predvoj

24 Awards Special Honorary Mention and FIPRESCI Award – 11th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1958




Cinematographer František Lukeš did an artistically memorable piece of work. His camera is the most inventive, excellent and original in the mass scenes, in scenes of battle. The good music of Milan Novák exceeds the usual average in our films. It does not suggest the scenes; it does not only illustrate what we see on the screen. It is a film score of its own right – from the melody under the opening credits all the way to the final fade out. Overall, the Slovak film Forty-Four Mutineers is undoubtedly a success of young Slovak cinema. Together with Untilled Field, it is the best Slovak film made so far. [ Jan Kliment: Forty-Four Mutineers. Kino 10/1958]

19 59

Captain Dabač Kapitán Dabač / b&w / 102 min. Directed by: Paľo Bielik • Story: Vladimír Mináč – based on his short story Over the Hills, Over the Valleys (Po horách, po dolinách) • Screenplay: Paľo Bielik • Director of photography: Karol Krška • Music: Milan Novák • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: Ladislav Chudík (Captain Vlado Dabač) / Elo Romančík (Partisan Pavol Garaj) / Hilda Augustovičová (Naďa Dabačová) / Ctibor Filčík (Gustáv Slanec) / Zdena Gruberová (Naďa Rybanská) / Anton Michalička (Jonáš) / Ondrej Jariabek (Bôrik) / Elena Latečková (Elena Rampáková)




Paľo Bielik, who had acted the role of Jánošík in Martin Frič’s 1936 film, was one of the first Slovak directors and filmed the Slovak National Uprising of 1944 for his film For Freedom. He returned to the subject in a number of feature films, including Captain Dabač. While incorporating many of the traditional generic elements of Second World War films, the film’s central character offers an unorthodox perspective. Serving with the Slovak army, which was forced to fight on the side of the Germans in the Ukraine, he is sickened by the atrocities and becomes involved with the

partisans fighting against them. Despite his physical courage, his role as a hero is also unusual. He has doubts about the rising, periodically takes to alcohol, makes flawed decisions, and spends the central part of the film wounded and in hiding. One of the film’s strengths lies in its portrait of the effects of the war on the civilian population – not least the collaboration of Slovak Guardists with the Nazis, and their participation in the massacre of innocent people. Traditional in form, Captain Dabač is one of the key Slovak films of the late 1950s.

Press Coverage Ladislav Chudík, the film’s protagonist, delivers extraordinarily vivid character traits and performs the emotional roller-coaster of his character. He is suggestive in dramatic action even when the fast moving story and the terse dialogues give him little space for a complicated portrayal of human psychology. But it is exactly the opportunity for a test of screen-acting skills where Chudík once again passed with flying colors and showed that Slovak actors are able to meet the requirements of a movie camera. [ Agneša Kalinová: A View from Inside and a View from the Side. Kultúrny život 35/1959]


In Captain Dabač, the filmmakers created an interesting and attractive film. It is Paľo Bielik’s directing attitude, full of natural explosiveness and an extraordinary sense of dramatic edge that made it possible to shoot situations with carefully arranged internal pace. He focuses on the dynamics and enjoys alternating images full of drama. [ Ernest Štric: Success and Something to Think about. Predvoj 37/1959]



Ladislav Chudík, an actor of a soft, disciplined, and purely filmic expression, gave Dabač his integrity and clean-cut identity. His is a strong, resolute nature, on some level carrying something of Chapayev in him... [ Pavel Branko: The Death of Captain Dabač. Film a divadlo 18/1959]

This film has not grown old. Understandably, from today’s viewpoint it seems naive, maybe a bit ostentatious – similarly to other popular films from the late 1950s. But the film does not apply any irregular formal tricks and in the framework of what was possible in its era, it is an honest and impressive story. It was made with enthusiasm and a love for cinema. And I think it is the best Slovak film made before the coming of such filmmakers as Stanislav Barabáš, Štefan Uher and Peter Solan in the early 1960s. [ Martin Ciel: Captain Dabač: “Death is Horrible Only for Those Who Want to Live...” 3/2006]

19 61

The Song of the Grey Pigeon Pieseň o sivom holubovi / b&w / 102 min. Directed by: Stanislav Barabáš • Story: Albert Marenčin / Ivan Bukovčan • Screenplay: Ivan Bukovčan / Albert Marenčin • Director of photography: Vladimír Ješina • Music: Zdeněk Liška • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: Pavol Poláček (Rudko Hrudka) / Pavol Mattoš (Vinco) / Vlado Brečka (Martin) / Peter Kollárik (Milan) / Karol Machata (Teacher) / Ladislav Chudík (Milan’s Father) / Vladimír Durdík st. (Rudko’s Father) / Jiří Sovák (Fero Šlosiarik) / Karla Chadimová (Soviet Partisan Natasha) / Elena Zvaríková (Rudko’s Mother)




Written by Albert Marenčin and Ivan Bukovčan to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the liberation of Czechoslovakia, The Song of the Grey Pigeon combines six short stories that take place in the mountains of Slovakia towards the end of the Second World War. The narrative, told through the eyes of children, is linked by their characters and the motif of the grey pigeon. Children from the village of Jasenová go on a trip and meet Russian resistance fighters, a new church bell is consecrated in the village, an unknown Slovak officer passes through the village with his

son, the Germans capture a Russian woman partisan, a child dies in a minefield, but the Germans are finally defeated. While confronting a complex political reality, Stanislav Barabáš’s debut film is made with extraordinary sensitivity and lyricism. The war also provides a background to a child’s world where catapults, roller skates, and the traditional Christmas nativity play also have their role. Barabáš’s approach allows for a dual perspective, in which much of the action remains implicit and a child’s viewpoint runs parallel with an adult interpretation of the same events.

Press Coverage The Song of the Grey Pigeon is a pioneer work. The loose structure of its composition speaks a new, not a traditional language growing apart from classical drama frameworks – some facts are dialectically emphasized, others are suppressed. The film talks only of the things that are important for the story and in this respect, it resembles the dense character of modern prose, the efforts of the young Soviet filmmaking generation, and the style embraced in our environment by Vojtěch Jasný. [ Richard Blech: Children and War. Smena, May 7, 1961 ]

32 Awards Special Honorary Diploma – 22nd Venice International Film Festival 1961 (film screened out of competition)


In terms of auteurship, the self-confidence of young, debuting director Barabáš and the intensity and the atmosphere of images in the visual compositions of his partner cinematographer, Vladimír Ješina, are the two most impressive features. This film was not directed – its actions live in an organic symbiosis with their environment. There are scenes where the directing leadership evaporates – we are no longer aware of it. It is present in every detail while one cannot put one’s finger on it. The directing is present in the atmosphere, which despite its strict compositions renders a feeling of authentic documentary footage... [ Pavol Branko: A Slovak Dove of Peace. Pravda, May 8, 1961 ]


(Stanislav Barabáš) found the right – poetical and impressive – tone for his narrative. He used the filmic character of the screenplay, and sometimes he let himself be carried away by the possibilities of film expression, which resulted in slow progress of the story. But, he is excellent at creating atmospheres and at the leading of young actors among which the performance of Pavlík Poláček as Rudko is quite admirable. Each episode has several strong, moving moments that enhance the overall emotional impact of the film. And talking about the contribution of “The Song...“ we should not forget the preciously pure and sensitive cinematography of Vladimír Ješina, which emphasizes the poetic feel of the work portraying man and nature, and the quiet, but irreplaceable music of Zdeněk Liška. [ Jiří Pittermann: The Song of the Grey Pigeon. Rudé právo, May 11, 1961 ]

19 62

The Boxer and Death Boxer a smrť / b&w / 106 min. Directed by: Peter Solan • Story: Józef Hen – based on the short story The Boxer and Death (Bokser i śmierć) • Screenplay: Józef Hen / Tibor Vichta / Peter Solan • Director of photography: Tibor Biath • Music: Wiliam Bukový • Editor: Bedřich Voděrka • Cast: Štefan Kvietik (Ján Komínek) / Manfred Krug (Sturmbannführer Walter Kraft) / Valentina Thielová (Helga, Kraft’s Partner) / Józef Kondrat (Venžlak) / Edwin Marian (German Soldier Willi) / Gerhard Rachold (Hauptsturmführer Holder) / Jindřich Narenta (Doctor Gluch) / Edmund Ogrodźinski (Stašek)




Adapted from a novel by the Polish writer, Józef Hen, Peter Solan’s best known film is set in a concentration camp in Poland. The Commandant, who was a boxer in civilian life, discovers that one of the inmates, Ján Komínek, a Slovak, used to be an amateur boxer. In order to develop his strength as a potential sparring partner, Komínek is provided with extra food rations but realises that any victory over his German master is likely to lead to an early death. However, after the murder of his friend and coach by a Nazi officer, he boxes for real, defeats his opponent, and consequently re-

ceives a death sentence. When he has an unexpected opportunity to escape from the camp, he is faced with an impossible dilemma. The film’s script undermines the usual stereotypes and, in focussing on the central conflict, treats the wider horrors of the concentration camp, all the more frighteningly, as a contextual background. Save for one symbolic central scene, the chimneys of the crematorium, for instance, are seen at a distance. Solan’s film is notable not only for its original visual approach but for an inventive use of sound.

Press Coverage Clear and comprehensible film language, excitement, human emotions, rejection of any convention or routine – these are the major contributions that Solan placed in his work for the realization of which he struggled so long with young eagerness. [ Václav Vondra: Slovak Cinema is Growing

It is with a precise approach, wit and intelligence that the screenplay develops partial situational plots without unnecessary details, which would interrupt the main narrative and the director’s intention. We can say that by this picture, Solan is distinguishing his own directing auteurship.

Young. Práce, April 11, 1963]

[ Agneša Kalinová: It Pays to Trust. Film a divadlo 6/1963]

Building on a well constructed screenplay, young director Peter Solan is rising as an artist of extraordinary sensitivity even in terms of choosing his means of expression. They are functionally simple, obedient, subordinated to his intention. His concentration camp, shown in full in only a handful of shots, is as intense as it is barren. Both the interior of the barracks and the exteriors are crushingly real.

Awards Carl Foreman Special Award to the film Boxer a smrť/The Boxer and Death and Dario Milhaud Award for Best Music to Wiliam Bukový – 7th San Francisco International Film Festival 1963




[ Jiří Pittermann: The Boxer and Death. Rudé

Solan made a very good, very well designed, and a very sane film. Its calm and seemingly perhaps traditional form follows exactly what he had wanted and needed to say. It is a film marked by excellent acting. Among the actors, I was surprised by Kvietik’s performance of Komínek as well as by Commander Kraft as portrayed by German actor Manfred Krug, formerly known from popular genres.

právo, April 18, 1963]

[ M. Fiala: The Boxer and Death. Kino 8/1963]

19 62

The Sun in a Net Slnko v sieti / b&w / 93 min. Directed by: Štefan Uher • Story and screenplay: Alfonz Bednár • Director of photography: Stanislav Szomolányi • Music: Ilja Zeljenka • Editor: Bedřich Voděrka • Cast: Marián Bielik (Fajolo) / Jana Beláková (Bela Blažejová) / Eliška Nosálová (Stana Blažejová, Bela’s Mother) / Andrej Vandlík (Ján Blažej, Bela’s Father) / Oľga Šalagová (Jana) / Pavol Chrobák (Blažej) / Ľubomír Roman (Peťo) / Peter Lobotka (Milo Blažej, Bela’s Brother) / Vladimír Malina (Fisherman)




More than any other film of the early 1960s, Štefan Uher’s The Sun in a Net opened the doors for the liberated films of the Czechoslovak New Wave that extended from 1963 – 69. Its story centres on a young teenager, nicknamed Fajolo, and his love for the fair haired Bela. When their relationship undergoes a temporary crisis, he joins a summer work brigade on a collective farm. Against this story of young love, we are introduced to the world of their parents. Fajolo’s mother is always absent at work while Bela’s mother is blind and an apparent burden on her husband. While Uher’s

portrait of everyday life confronted a number of previously forbidden and “negative” themes, his main innovations are formal. The film is dominated by the role of the sun, and a solar eclipse forms one of its essential elements. Fajolo is also an obsessive photographer and, like the film’s makers, focuses on the revealing image. Uher’s mosaic of impressionist effects, the cross-cutting of parallel themes, and use of ambiguous symbolism creates a film poetry that was unique for its time – in which word, image, and music contribute to the film’s portrait of individual subjective worlds.

Press Coverage Film director Štefan Uher, who debuted last year with Class “Nine A“, now received a chance to develop fully his own creative method, which he had previously tested in documentary filmmaking. (...) His style works in two directions: in the impressiveness of lyrically composed images as the main vehicle of emotional effect, and the straightforward recording of reality, mediated in the most intimate way by the portraying of the human face, voice, and gestures. [ Agneša Kalinová: The Adventure of Growing Up. Kultúrny život 8/1963]



The Sun in a Net is the result of an intimate, creative connection of two related natures – the analytical writing talents of Alfonz Bednár and the directing talents of Štefan Uher, who found for his own daring interpretation a similarly visually sensitive partner in cinematographer Szomolányi. The cinematography in this film expresses even the indefinable and non-visual elements of the director’s intention and involves in the picture a vibrating, changing atmosphere and the magic of unfinished statements. Thus the director’s hands were free for a liberal, ambitious and finally successful experiment. [ Pavel Branko: Romance in Major. Práca, February 22, 1963]


But it is also a young and vivid film. And finally, a film which shows that Slovak cinema is, for the first time and wholeheartedly, setting out on its own path, incorporating the good qualities of Czech cinema without its drawbacks, and providing a challenging inspiration. [ Jaroslav Boček: A Work of Youth. Kulturní tvorba 9/1963]

This film is a rebellion against traditional conventions. It is restless, it searches, and it also finds. The significance of this film goes far beyond the limits of our cinema. [ Richard Blech: A Restless, Searching Film. Smena, February 16, 1963]

Stanislav Szomolányi’s camera does not only make mechanical recordings, neither is it merely describing the environment. Instead, out of details it creates an atmosphere, evokes a mood, and thoughtfully works with the deep sharpness of the image, which seems to be symbolizing the ever-changing depths of the view of the world inside and around us. [ Martin Šmatlák: The Sun in a Net. Dialóg 7/1989]

19 64

The Organ Organ / b&w / 95 min. Directed by: Štefan Uher • Story and screenplay: Alfonz Bednár • Director of photography: Stanislav Szomolányi • Music: Ján Zimmer (with music by Johann Sebastian Bach) • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: František Bubík (Vendelín Bachňák) / Alexander Březina (Brother Félix) / Kamil Marek (Guardian) / Irma Bárdyová (Irén Bachňáková) / Hana Maciuchová (Nella) / Lujza Grossová (Katarína Molnárová) / Tomáš Tobák (Hlinka Guards District Secretary Milan Molnár) / Karol Béla (Krištof) / Jozef Hodorovský (Priest)




This second collaboration between director Štefan Uher and novelist Alfonz Bednár tells the story of a young Polish organist, who escapes from the Nazis and takes refuge in a Catholic monastery. There he assumes the role and name of the dead Brother Felix. His musical gifts are exploited by the Guardian of the monastery, who wishes to prove that music and beauty can provide a path to holiness. However, his real purpose is to achieve a competitive dominance over the local organist and choirmaster Bachňák. Bachňák who, in turn, has hidden a Jewish family in his cellar, is a

member of the Hlinka Guards and on good terms with the regime. The contradictions of life under the Slovak fascist state (headed by the Catholic priest Jozef Tiso) provide the background for a political conflict over the rival claims of two people devoted to the beauties of art. Uher again exploits metaphor and allegory with an aesthetic power and unity drawing on the music of Bach, and the visual power of the Gothic dome in Levoča. The power and example of aesthetic and spiritual aspiration contrasts strongly with the hypocrisy and meanness of human reality.

Press Coverage The Organ is a pure and beautiful picture. And paradoxically, it is more of a film than the Slovak films made in the fifties, furthermore, it is also a more Slovak film – by its theme as well as its emotional span and mood. [ Jaroslav Boček: The Organ. Kulturní tvorba 50/1964 ]

Compared with The Sun in a Net, the pace is slower, the sequences longer, and Szomolányi’s versatile cinematography, which was constantly ready to jump to action, shed its nervousness and became more static. The whole is more serious, more strict. In sequences where polyphonic music prevails, the whole is more majestic; parts dominated by “single-fingered arrangement“, the image is more reserved, it turns into a toll of objective recording striving – mainly in the case of the choir master of many faces – to dig ever deeper.

44 Awards Special Award of the Jury – 18th Locarno International Film Festival 1965



[ Pavel Branko: The Organ of Many Meanings. Kultúrny život 1/1965]

Once again, film director Štefan Uher has proven himself to be an artist of extraordinary depth and original sensitivity and perception. His qualities go far deeper than just a superficial ability to narrate a story through film in the framework of beautifully composed and visually eloquent images. There is law, and order, which are very precise in mediating meaning. His image compositions complete the meaning of the film parable and they do this straightforwardly and with lightness. [ Agneša Kalinová: More than Impression. Film a divadlo 2/1965]

19 65

Before Tonight is Over Kým sa skončí táto noc / b&w / 89 min. Directed by: Peter Solan • Story and screenplay: Tibor Vichta / Peter Solan • Director of photography: Vincent Rosinec • Music: Jaroslav Laifer / Miloš Jurkovič • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: Jana Gýrová (Olga) / Jitka Zelenohorská (Mira) / Stano Dančiak (Kvetinka) / Marián Labuda (Miloš) / Július Pántik (Baláž) / Valentina Thielová (Bartender Betka) / Vladimír Durdík st. (Pavol Holub) / Erna Suchánová (Holubová) / Viliam Polónyi (Kravárik) / Ernest Kostelník (Waiter Paľko) / Eduard Pavlíček (Kunert)




After his international success with The Boxer and Death, Peter Solan struck out in an unusual direction with this lesser known film. Set entirely in a nightclub in a ski resort in the mountains, it brings together a number of disparate characters – two Czech girls using their savings for a brief escape, two plumbers looking for an improved sex life, a building contractor who is spending the wages of his workers, and a veteran of Tobruk who has become an alcoholic because of political persecution. Tibor Vichta’s lightly sketched screenplay was designed to provide maximum space

for improvisation and the film was shot using direct sound and several cameras. Unlike Miloš Forman’s more detached observation of everyday life in Loves of a Blonde the previous year, Solan’s ‘reality’ derives almost entirely from the improvisations of professional actors. The leading Slovak actors, Marián Labuda and Stano Dančiak, make early appearances as the two plumbers while the two Czech girls (who are initially thought to be Polish) are played by Jitka Zelenohorská (who appeared in Menzel’s Closely Observed Trains the same year) and Jana Gýrová.

Press Coverage The great trump card of the film is Vichta’s screenplay, a kind of a libretto, the main framework, facilitating maximal involvement of the director, cinematographer and actors, even enabling improvisation, which in and of itself is very remarkable in the context of Slovak cinema.

Using a highly sensitive film material, cinematographer Rosinec works with the artificial scene as if it was a real setting. The grainy picture, resembling graphic art, evokes emotions achieved by documentary methods and creates a rich atmosphere.

[ Milan Polák: Plain Yet Exceptional – NOC.

Pravda, April 13, 1966]

[ Pavol Branko: Slovak Cinema in the Year 1965.

Pravda, April 7, 1966]

Not only did director Peter Solan and cinematographer Vincent Rosinec well understand the specific features of the setting (a night club) and its visitors, they also brought a cogent depiction: wide shots in a dimly-lit mist are alternated with closeups in sharp light contrasts; people disappear in a shapeless shadow play only to reappear up close through a pronounced grimace or gesture as though in the light of a police inspector’s lamp. [ Ivan Dvořák: Before Tonight is Over. Kino

48 Awards Honorary Diploma – 19th Locarno International Film Festival 1966




Rosinec’s camera does not statically follow the faces of the talking people; rather, it wanders around them to reveal exactly that gesture, facial expression, or subtle movement, which helps to uncover what is behind the words. I believe that the director chose the best method to encourage the actors to free, almost improvised, creation of dialogues on given topics. [ Agneša Kalinová: Illusions of One Night. Kultúrny život 15/1966]

19 65

The Bells Toll for the Barefooted Zvony pre bosých / b&w / 100 min. Directed by: Stanislav Barabáš • Story and screenplay: Ivan Bukovčan • Director of photography: Vincent Rosinec • Music: Zdeněk Liška • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: Vlado Müller (Ondrej) / Ivan Rajniak (Stašek) / Axel Dietrich (Hans Joachim Gruber) / Ewa Krzyzewska (Ryba) / Radovan Lukavský (German Lieutenant) / Jozef Sorok (German Lieutenant Werner) / Pavol Benca (German Tankist) / Hans Brückner (German Tankist) / Anton Drobný (German Tankist)




During the last winter of the Second World War, two resistance fighters, Ondrej and Stašek, capture a young German soldier, Hans, deep in the mountains. They take him to headquarters but discover that their guerrilla unit has disappeared. After enduring common experiences, the two fighters spare his life. Subsequently, they meet up with a young woman, Verona, who has lost everything in the war. All four want only to survive, but eventually fall into the hands of the German forces. The film progresses from a classic story of survival to focus on the effects of war and the human realities

that will follow. As the central characters lose their contact with the wider historical context, they acquire greater individual responsibility and the nature of relationships changes. The morality of war is contradicted through experience and moral choices become confused and arbitrary. While the film provides a conventional humanist perspective, its analysis and characterization carries it well beyond the war story and Socialist Realist convention, provoking wider political comparisons.

Press Coverage It is the outstanding combination of writing, acting (Müller, Rajniak, Dietrich), and directing which, in the first half of the movie, develops the Sartresque idea of the value of human life and the bonds created by the pressure of external circumstances. It happens, that men fall out of the chain of their automatic reactions defined by the organization of society, which takes over a major part of responsibility for their actions.

Barabáš has succeeded in creating an atmosphere of suspense and in inspiring the good performances of his actors Müller, Rajniak and Polish actress Ewa Krzyzewska. Also the lieutenant performed by Lukavský is superb, masterfully marked by his personality. And the most pleasant surprise is the professional quality of Vincent Rosinec’s cinematographic artistry.

[ Pavol Branko: About the Weight of

Barefooted. Pravda, January 9, 1966]

[ Richard Blech: The Bells Toll for the

Responsibility, About the Value of Life. Práca, December 25, 1965]


In this film, Barabáš finds the right proportion between contemplating the meaning of human existence and a poetic approach to reality, which appears in the form of a poem – a ballad about the value of friendship, honor, and manhood that came too soon. It is his most mature film also in terms of its cinematic side. Thanks to its perfect even metaphoric compositions, Rosinec’s photography expands well the director’s clear-cut emotional and philosophical poetics. [ Peter Mihálik: Waiting for Death Or, Behind the Facade of a Myth. Film a divadlo 1/1966]



Director Barabáš found in this theme an opportunity to create an indirect testimony about fundamental issues of humanism and humanity. He missed out on this chance in his previous film, The Angelos Trio, which was too vague and amorphous in terms of its plot. Now he once again turned to a precise and accurate detail, characteristic of his fiction film debut, The Story of the Grey Pigeon – although without its spontaneity and freshness. [ Agneša Kalinová: About the Value of Life. Kultúrny život 1/1966]

19 65

The Sheriff behind Bars Šerif za mrežami / b&w / 97 min. Directed by: Dimitrij Plichta • Story: Dimitrij Plichta • Screenplay: Vladimír Valenta / Dimitrij Plichta • Director of photography: Viktor Svoboda • Music: Štěpán Koníček • Editor: Bedřich Voděrka • Cast: Otakar Prajzner (Jakub Bartoš), Jiří Sedlmayer (Viktor), Petr Svojtka (Slávek), Viliam Polónyi (Frajer), Štefan Kapičák (Tadek Šoler), Jiří Ornest (Fred), František Hromada (Standa Ošadlík), Milan Kňažko (Ivan), Karol Spišák (Psychologist), Slavomír Záhradník (Doctor), Vladimír Ptáček (Investigator)




Based on extensive research in institutions for young offenders, Dimitrij Plichta’s documentary drama proved to be a seminal work in the genre in Czechoslovakia. After making several documentaries on the theme of adolescence, his study of life in a single institution focuses on group dynamics and the moral code that operates within the system. Jakub (‘Kubo’) has allowed himself to be arrested in place of the leader of his gang, Jano – “the sheriff”, in a misguided commitment to gang loyalty. Much of life within the reformatory is organized along lines of ‘natural’ domi-

nance, with Viktor asserting his leadership through violence and by generating suspicion of the newcomer. The film is also a documentary on institutional life, with scenes set during a medical examination, working in a scrap yard, in the canteen, watching a movie, working on a building site, and playing football. Despite the horrors of solitary confinement, the authorities are presented in rather a benign light. While the film uses actors, Viktor Svoboda’s photography combines dramatic composition with ‘cinéma vérité’ observation.

Press Coverage Plichta’s film is neither an analysis of what causes juvenile delinquency, nor a protest against ineffective forms of its correction. Nevertheless, he muses over the current state of affairs by showing the situation which he sees without inappropriate pessimism, but also without distorting illusions. In this approach, and in precise detailed observations, lies the main contribution of the film. [ Agneša Kalinová: About a Sheriff Who Was Not a Sheriff. Rudé právo, April 14, 1966]

In an interesting way Plichta has touched upon a serious social issue and in a quiet, captivating manner he pointed out some of its aspects. It is appealing that he does not take sides but rather describes the situation: he does not see young people as unable to appreciate what they have, he does not find behind each young delinquent one or several grown-ups who, due to their lack of understanding or even their own wickedness, bring young people to committing crime. [ Jan Pilát: The Sheriff behind Bars. Mladá




The strength of Dimitrij Plichta’s talent is in observation. In spite of its shortcomings, this film clearly qualifies him as an artist with the ability of discovering a subject matter, which is of major significance at present. His film is an asset not only for Slovak cinema but also for Czechoslovak cinema as a whole.

fronta, April 21, 1966]

[ Pavol Branko: Between Observation and

[ Jiří Pittermann: The Sheriff behind Bars. Kino

Fabulation. Kultúrny život 12/1966]


It should be said right away that rather than in the central story of the main hero, the value of the new Slovak film The Sheriff behind Bars lies in its authentic portrayal of life in the detention center and relations among young criminals.

19 67

Dragon’s Return Drak sa vracia / b&w / 84 min. Directed by: Eduard Grečner • Story: Dobroslav Chrobák – based on his novella Dragon’s Return (Drak sa vracia) • Screenplay: Eduard Grečner • Director of photography: Vincent Rosinec • Music: Ilja Zeljenka • Editor: Bedřich Voděrka • Cast: Radovan Lukavský (Martin Lepiš called Dragon) / Gustáv Valach (Šimon Jariabek) / Emília Vášáryová (Eva, Šimon’s Wife) / Viliam Polónyi (Mayor) / Jozef Čierny (Čierny) / Pavol Chrobák (Mlčúch) / Mikuláš Ladižinský (Vrtich) / Ľudovít Reiter (Innkeeper) / František Török (Peľach) / Ján Mildner (Manservant Zachar)




Eduard Grečner’s long planned film adaptation of Dobroslav Chrobák’s 1940s novella is tightly constructed and impressively scripted. Radovan Lukavský plays Martin Lepiš, a potter who comes under the suspicion of his fellow villagers, loses his eye in a conflict, and is arrested by the police. When he returns, the villagers assume that he is bent on revenge – indeed his appearance and charisma suggest such a character. While the film has many of the ballad-like elements of the revenge story, it is also a revealing account of peasant life, where livelihood is directly dependent on

the seasons, the harvest, and the safety of animals – a world geographically isolated from the mainstream of political events. It is also an unusual story of love – of the woman who promised fidelity to Martin but married his rival. However, the story of their love and of his expulsion from the village is told in flashback. In the present, we only see her alone in her house or looking from afar. Apart from its evocation of landscape, Vincent Rosinec’s photography places a strong emphasis on objects and textures and combines with an award-winning score from Ilja Zeljenka.

Press Coverage Based on the novel, Grečner created a selfsufficient piece without trying to be orthodox in terms of respecting the plot of the novel with its motivations. And still, the result can be, in many ways, compared with the intensity of the written word. [ Milan Polák: In Search of Lost Honour. Pravda, March 7, 1968]

The resulting film is a very uncommon form – a balladic film parable calling for the audience’s emotions and senses and collaboration. (...) Dragon’s Return is perhaps the most original and most mature of Grečner’s films. It lures by its look (cinematography by Vincent Rosinec), enchants by its music (Ilja Zeljenka), challenges by its defense of the fates of its characters (protagonists Radovan Lukavský, Gustáv Valach, Emília Vášáryová). [ Ivan Gerlach: Grečner’s Film Ballad. Ľud, March 14, 1968]




It is a work of great visual culture, a slideshow of pure cinematic images. It resembles a classic tragedy yet at the same time thanks to its ideas, it is a contemporary piece. (...) Grečner’s film is a complex structure of elements that together compose a resulting artifact. At the core of the film lies the excellently-written screenplay with the superstructure of a perfect realization. (...) Similarly interesting are the music, which completes the mood of the story; the cinematography, which gave in to the film fully and co-creates its style; and also the performances of the three protagonists, mainly that of Radovan Lukavský in the role of Dragon. [ R. Hassmann: Grečner True to Chrobák. Smena, March 3, 1968]

19 67

The Prime of Life [aka Crucial Years] Kristove roky / b&w / 95 min. Directed by: Juraj Jakubisko • Story: Juraj Jakubisko • Screenplay: Lubor Dohnal, Juraj Jakubisko • Director of photography: Igor Luther • Music: Wiliam Bukový • Editor: Bedřich Voděrka • Cast: Jiří Sýkora (Juraj) / Jana Stehnová (Jana) / Vlado Müller (Andrej, Juraj’s Brother) / Miriam Kantorková (Marta Zacházelová) / Mária Sýkorová (Grandmother) / Viktor Blaho (Juraj’s Father) / Zdeněk Týle (Pelnář) / Jiří Stehno (Priest) / Róbert Krásny (Marcel, Andrej’s Son) / Milada Peškeová (Trombone Player)




Jakubisko’s first feature focuses on the life of Juraj, a Slovak painter living in Prague who, having reached his thirties – ‘Christ’s years’ – realizes that he has been living a superficial existence. Together with his brother Andrej, a pilot, he decides to change for the better. In this film, one can detect the influence of the French New Wave, especially Godard who, as Jakubisko once said, ‘broke all the rules’. Jakubisko’s characters enjoy liberated personal lives but nonetheless experience a crisis in terms of meaning. This is crystallized in Juraj’s case by the fact that he is a Slovak split between

two national identities. The Prime of Life rejects conventional narrative and psychological realism, with its narrative emerging almost by accident from the characters’ games and absurd dialogue. Jakubisko employs a continuously inventive approach, in which Igor Luther’s camera uses overexposure to powerful effect. Elaborate camera movements are combined together with striking close-ups and montage.

Press Coverage

64 Awards Josef von Sternberg Award for Most Original and Most Surprising Film, FIPRESCI Prize, and Volkshochschulen Jury Prize – 16th Mannheim International Film Week 1967



In Luther, Jakubisko found an extremely sensitive, congenial cinematographer and together they found a negation of the black-and-white range and an accentuated graininess of image, which add an edge to the drama of the story. Photography made a major contribution to the intensity of the plot, mainly by the compositions of the internal frames, and by the – in Slovak cinema quite innovative – follow-up composition between individual frames. (...) Jakubisko introduced in Slovak cinema an extraordinarily balanced and mature debut, in which he uses the emotional ties of the protagonists to address complex psychological and philosophical aspects of his theme. His advantage lies in a poetically gentle and comic view, a mastery of dramatic shortcuts and an intimate familiarity of his characters and settings. (...) The Prime of Life is an auteur film par excellence in terms of a total auteur testimony.

Jakubisko’s film is a forerunner of a new array of Slovak filmmakers who do not pretend to be modern, to have an innovative attitude to reality, or to possess deep thoughts – all of these elements are inherent parts of their world vision and their creative eye.

[ Peter Mihálik: The Prime of Life. Filmové

[ Svatoslav Svoboda: New Voice. Mladá fronta,

a televizní noviny 9/1967 ]

November 30, 1967 ]

[ Vladimír Solecký: The Prime of Life. Literární noviny 49/1967 ]

The Prime of Life, which can rightfully be declared a great promise of our cinema (in this respect, we should remember the major contribution of cinematographer Igor Luther), even for its director himself, is a picture he learned a lot from. It is so because: while form was dominant in his earlier experiments, here he had to move beyond that. In this movie, he started to build his own style and his own way of connecting with the audience. He said – ‘I think I know now how to be understood’.

19 67

Three Daughters Tri dcéry / b&w / 89 min. Directed by: Štefan Uher • Story: Alfonz Bednár • Screenplay: Alfonz Bednár • Director of photography: Stanislav Szomolányi • Music: Ilja Zeljenka • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: Alžbeta Štrkulová (Sister Klemencia, Tereza) / Stanislava Strobachová (Mother Superior) / Dušan Blaškovič (Director Belan) / František Bubík (Pišta Krchňavý) / Jozef Čierny (Old Majda) / Ivan Rajniak (Demko) / Pavol Chrobák (Janohop) / Viktor Blaho (Vrtina) / Vladimír Kostovič (Janček) / Ernest Šmigura (Jozef Majda) / Alžbeta Barthová (Sister Benedikta, Anča) / Hana Slivková (Sister Perfekta, Zuzka)




Inspired partly by the theme of King Lear, Alfonz Bednár’s script tells the story of the peasant, Majda, who sends his three daughters to a convent in order that his property can be left to his son. When the convents and monasteries are abolished by the Communists in 1949 – 50, he and his son are accused of being ‘kulaks’ and are expelled from their farm. After a row with his son, Majda seeks out his daughters. He is rejected by the two elder daughters, but meets the youngest, Klemencia, now working together with her order in an agricultural cooperative. Here the lives and practices of

the former nuns come into conflict with new social realities, and the Communists decide to ‘re-educate’ them. Uher draws parallels between the two ‘collectives’, with some sharp criticism of the absurdities of bureaucratic orthodoxy. Shot entirely on location, Szomolányi’s photography exerts a quiet force while the film’s social criticism is combined with a ballad-like quality reinforced by its central repetition of folk song. The subject of religion – still less an honest confrontation with what happened in the 1950s – was not acceptable to the authorities, and the film was subsequently banned.

Press Coverage Uher returned to the cast that he had discovered for The Sun in a Net and The Organ and enriched his film with other types and actors. In the context of Slovak cinema, the team of Uher, Bednár, Szomolányi and Zeljenka created a remarkable film in which Uher has found himself and his further direction.

In collaboration with cinematographer Stanislav Szomolányi, Štefan Uher translates Bednár’s story into a modern film language. Therefore, we should consider Three Daughters, together with Jakubisko’s The Prime of Life, as major contributions to the development of Slovak cinema.

[ Richard Blech: The Return. Smena,

a divadlo 5/1968]

[ Ivan Bonko: The Third Daughter. Film

February 1, 1968]


But I accept the Uheresque objective vision, backed up by empathic cinematography and remarkable performances by the male protagonists, without any objection: it confirms not only the artistic but also the philosophical and human dimensions of this artist whose work has been an epoch in itself within Slovak cinema. Nothing revealed more about him than this film, in which he was able to like the “small Slovak” dogmatists without mercy for evil or pain that they caused. [ Jan Žalman: Between Tragedy and Slapstick. Rudé právo, March 29, 1968]



(Director Uher) found in the already welltested collaboration with cinematographer Szomolányi a suitable form for his film’s imagery, which has the ability to capture the charm of open flatlands, look ironically at the shabby yard of a former estate, discover the pathos of the nuns’ aging faces and that of their hard work, and create the final effect linking together poetry and a slightly sad smile. [ Agneša Kalinová: An Ironic Ballad. Kultúrny život 8/1968]

19 69

322 322 / b&w / 97 min. Directed by: Dušan Hanák • Story: Ján Johanides / Dušan Hanák – based on the short story written by Ján Johanides The Diver is Drawn to the Roots of the Sea (Potápača priťahujú pramene mora) • Screenplay: Dušan Hanák / Ján Johanides • Director of photography: Viktor Svoboda • Music: Ladislav Gerhardt • Editor: Alfréd Benčič • Cast: Václav Lohniský (Jozef Lauko) / Lucyna Winnicka (Marta, Lauko’s Ex-Wife) / Josef Abrhám (Peter) / Miroslav Macháček (Physician) / František Zvarík (Čatloš) / Vladimír Weiser (Vladko) / Emil Horváth st. (Fajnor) / Viktor Blaho (Greguš) / Jana Švandová (Jana) / Božena Šérová (Cilka) / Marta Rašlová (Nurse)




Written in association with Ján Johanides, Dušan Hanák’s first feature focuses on a middle-aged man, Jozef Lauko, who is thought to be dying of cancer. He is not told of the nature of his illness, but is registered as disabled and begins to re-examine his life. As he looks back, he has feelings of guilt about his role in the forced collectivization of farms in the 1950s. He encounters a teenager, who ignores the rules of society, and begins to provide him with a new outlook on the values of life. Following on from his experimental short films, Hanák provides an authentic hard-hitting portrait

of society in the late 1960s, in which he adopts a complex, multi-level and modernist approach to his subject. The film’s combination of short scenes, introduced by titles, quotations, or lines of dialogue, is accompanied by an evocative jazz score by Ladislav Gerhardt. The film is also notable for its bleak visual poetry – powerful images of people in the streets, disturbing portraits of an urban landscape, and scenes from a slaughterhouse. Almost instantly banned by the authorities, the film signaled the arrival of an ambitious and visionary talent.

Press Coverage Hanák’s 322 is not a self-indulgent experiment for snobs, rather it is a valuable film meant to be watched by sensitive audiences, who are able and willing to take in the richness of its ideas and the perfection of its form. [ Nina Hradiská: A Well-Done Reflection by Dušan Hanák. Pravda, November 18, 1970]

72 Awards

We needed a film like this, we needed it very much. It filled in a gap in Slovak cinema in terms of style. This film is also a proof to Hanák’s talent as that of a film director with a special, very sensitive and intellectually sophisticated perception of reality. (...) (Hanák) manifested an original artistic expression, which distinguishes him from other filmmakers even beyond his own generation. He is never violent and he is always natural, and he takes everything with due measure. He makes functional use of asynchronic sound; in several scenes he achieves notable results by music based on contrast. His use of close-ups and various points of view are fitting. He is great at casting and leading his actors. [ Rudolf Hassmann: Uncommon “322“. Matičné čítanie 1/1971 ]

Grand Prix of the City of Mannheim (e. a. with the film Medium Cool, dir. H. Wexler) – 18th Mannheim International Film Week 1969



The film’s pace is seemingly slow and the semi-documentary sequences alternate with static image compositions. In them, individual objects (often the actors) represent some of the signs that create a separate structure of meaning. The harsh, contrast-oriented photography (cinematographer Viktor Svoboda) never lacks its visual impressiveness. Similarly sensitive are the compositions of Ladislav Gerhardt, whose music softly and reservedly follows the unfolding of the story. [ Slavomír Rosenberg: A Bouquet of Sad Lives. Film a divadlo 23/1970]

Hanák works with seemingly ordinary documentary images, non-dramatic motifs, and mundane situations and he establishes new meanings by putting them together. Despite the authenticity and the documentary character of many sequences, Hanák does not only provide an unbiased “recording“. Through an analysis of reality, he goes to the core of the reasons for the illness of the individual and the society. [ Andrej Obuch: Returns to the Enquiry, 322. Dialóg 14 – 15/1989]

19 69

Birdies, Orphans and Fools Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni / color / 81 min. Directed by: Juraj Jakubisko • Story and screenplay: Juraj Jakubisko / Karol Sidon • Director of photography: Igor Luther • Music: Zdeněk Liška • Editor: Maximilián Remeň / Bob Wade • Cast: Magda Vášáryová (Marta), Jiří Sýkora (Yorick), Philippe Avron (Andrej), Míla Beran (Landlord), Françoise Goldité (Saša), Mikuláš Ladižinský (Partisan), Jana Stehnová (Nun), Augustín Kubán (Sailor)




Filmed immediately after the Soviet invasion of 1968, Jakubisko’s third feature remained unreleased until after the fall of Communism in 1989. The film centers on the relationship between Yorick, his best friend Andrej, a Pole, and Magda, a young Jewish woman. They address each other (and the camera) with philosophical statements about the meaning of life. Yorick, who has been raised in an institution for mentally handicapped children, envies them their ignorance of the true nature of the world, and decides to deny its cruelty by taking on the role of the Fool. While the

triangle relationship recalls Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, Jakubisko’s heroes are all orphans – products of an absurd world, in which their parents killed each other. Besides the fools and the orphans, their apartment is also inhabited by birdies – little birds, who fly in and out through its official and unofficial exits. The film is full of ‘postmodern’ references from Shakespeare to Rabelais, and refers to key episodes in Slovak history. With its unremitting narrative and visual invention, the effect of the film is ultimately exhilarating despite its downbeat and negative conclusion.

Press Coverage Almost all of Slovak film director Juraj Jakubisko’s feature films are based on his particular auteur vision. (...) Jakubisko lets his characters wander around a visually beautiful, but in essence an increasingly dark and bizarre world. It’s only natural. This film inevitably had to be influenced by the times it was made in, the year 1969, when not only Jakubisko but all the normal citizens of this country were shocked and depressed by the events of August 21, 1968. Birdies, Orphans and Fools is an impressive artistic testimony; it is metaphor and poetry rather than a film in its traditional, common sense. It is an expression of the author’s sorrow over the despair of individuals and the tragedy of a nation. [ Jiří Houdek: Birdies, Orphans and Fools. Práce, September 17, 1991 ]

76 Awards FIPRESCI Prize – 27th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1990


This kind of poetization of reality creates a universally valid parable; the human psyche does not change. It suffices to thoroughly know it, form an opinion about it, build a situation based on it, adequately and originally depict it so that it gains meanings pointing to a philosophical generalization... how simple, and unfortunately, how rare. [ Martin Ciel: Here and There. Kultúrny život 13/1991 ]


With its relaxed composition, richness of meanings, even an overabundance of ideas, the proverbial Jakubiskoesque fantasy and visual flamboyancy interlinked with a deep message underscored by the intellectual potential of co-author of the script Karol Sidon, the film forms a complicated structure and a whole that challenges our perception. [ Andrej Obuch: Birdies, Orphans and Fools. Back to the Poll. Dialóg 22/1989]

The sad story Birdies, Orphans and Fools (1969) directed by Juraj Jakubisko, was banned and shelved immediately after its completion and contributed to the troubles that the “Slovak Fellini” was to experience during the following years of normalization. This bizarre allegory about the possibilities of freedom is memorable by its unrestricted playfulness and a flamboyant disrespect toward national traditions (...) which was just as upsetting as the allusions to the occupation in 1968... [(bič): Lidové noviny, July 15, 1993]

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Celebration in the Botanical Garden Slávnosť v botanickej záhrade / color / 87 min. Directed by: Elo Havetta • Story and screenplay: Elo Havetta / Lubor Dohnal • Director of photography: Jozef Šimončič • Music: Zdeněk Liška • Editor: Alfréd Benčič • Cast: Slavoj Urban (Pierre) / Nina Divíšková (Katarína) / Jiří Sýkora (Gašpar) / Dušan Blaškovič (Maco Kováč) / Hana Slivková (Mária) / Štefan Štibrányi (Pišta Domček) / Ján Gubala (Chairman) / Mária Žemlová (Fera) / Jozef Belan (Mojžiš) / Ján Náter (Bespectacled) / Robert Šelepa (Veronese) / Anton Ďuriník (Priest)




Maria, the innkeeper in the town of Babindol in the Little Carpathians, has eight daughters by the same father, Pišta, who lives in a hermit’s hut outside the vineyards. Their lives are disturbed by the arrival of Pierre, a wanderer from France, who brings new life to the village. Pierre (a counterpart of Pierrot from the Commedia dell’Arte) becomes a rival of the botanist Gašpar (whose counterpart is Casper, the jester from puppet theatre). Pierre achieves a miracle during the celebration of the vintage when local legends about a spring of red wine come to fruition. The film’s epi-

sodic structure and liberated style express a freewheeling sense of creativity, joy, and freedom. Elo Havetta admits to the influence of René Clair’s An Italian Straw Hat (Un chapeau de paille d’Italie) and of French cinema of the ‘golden era’, and the film opens with an extract from the Lumière brothers. Like Jakubisko, Havetta draws on folk traditions but there are also visual links to Le Douanier Rousseau, Monet, and Renoir. With its elephant, tightrope walkers, and ambling musicians, the whole film evokes the spirit of carnival.

Press Coverage Celebration in the Botanical Garden is really like fireworks. Fireworks of lovely colors and a warm feeling that emanates from the well-known pictures of the impressionists. Fireworks of music that keeps playing in us after the movie is over. It is like a carousel of humor and human situations that carry us away from the very first frame to the tragicomic ending, which makes us laugh gaily while a shiver runs down our spine. [ A. Štrpková: Will Sorrento Like Celebration?

As early as in his very first film, Elo Havetta is establishing himself as a unique and original filmmaker who strives to capture the mood, the atmosphere of the moment, and the minute situations rather than a narrator of an epic story or dramatic gradation. Inspiration for his poetics and style came from many places, including surrealism, lyrical impressionism, slap-stick, and marketplace folklore. He used all of them in film, rising to new achievements.

Svet, March 26, 1969]

[ Andrej Obuch: The Little-Known Figure of Slovak Cinema. Slovenský denník, September

Quite certainly, the Botanical Garden is rooted in cinema of the times when it had not been yet spoiled by sound and when it had to say everything solely by images. Havetta is an ardent follower of such films and he convinces us all that even modern technology can find inspiration in the old methods – and this to the benefit of the art of the moving pictures.




[(an): In the Name of Life and Its Beauty. Lidová demokracie, April 23, 1970]

4, 1981 ]

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Our Daily Day... Deň náš každodenný... / b&w / 91 min. Directed by: Otakar Krivánek • Story and screenplay: Otakar Krivánek • Director of photography: Jozef Grussmann • Editor: Otakar Krivánek • Cast: Michal Ravinger st. (Father Mišo) / Michal Ravinger ml. (Son Miško) / Michaela Ravingerová (Daughter Miška) / Gertrúda Ravingerová (Mother Gerta) / Marcel Ravinger (Son Marcel) / Sylvia Točíková (Katka Hladká, Marcel’s Classmate) / Sylvia Točíková st. (Hladká, Katka’s Mother) / Karol Točík (Hladký, Katka’s Father)




Made over a three week period, Otakar Krivánek’s debut feature began as a documentary and was then developed into a feature film with fictional elements. Based on the life of a real family – the Ravingers – much of the film was improvised with the family themselves ‘acting’ with both spontaneity and conviction. This focus on a single day takes in a variety of themes – making a dress for the school graduation dance, a discussion between father and mother on how to teach children about sex, playing music at a wedding, a first date, and daughter Miška’s departure for Austria. The

themes, situations, and even the characters prompt comparisons with Miloš Forman’s early features – although here there is much more dialogue, more straightforward documentary observation, and little attempt to create comic scenes. Like Forman, Krivánek respects his characters, and is ably supported by the cinematography of Jozef Grussmann, using a single camera. It is interesting to compare the film with Peter Solan’s actor-improvised Before Tonight is Over, but the film differs from both Forman and Solan in recording the improvised interactions of a real social unit.

Press Coverage Similarly to the Formans, in this Slovak variation Krivánek shows that authentic and un-exaggerated human drive and reactions – placed in a certain context and seen from a certain point of view – are a source of unequalled comedy. It is, naturally, of a different kind than that of Chaplin, for example, which is based on hyperbole, but it is just as impressive. [ Pavel Branko: Our Daily Comism. Film a divadlo 25/1969]

The simple story resembles the films by Forman, Passer or Papoušek by its scarcity of dramatic structure and plot, and its mood of the routine and the mundane. We are moved by the straightforwardness of the Ravingers only to feel awkward when they open the doors into their most intimate privacy with sincerity and bluntness, which border on exhibitionism. [ Eva Hepnerová: Ordinary Lives of Ordinary




People. Svobodné slovo, January 9, 1970]

Not unlike Forman and his crew, Krivánek is searching for the truth tenaciously, regardless of what it will be like. And he is searching where it is the most necessary – in people, in their inner make-up and in the social unit where analysis comes easiest – in the family. (...) Both Forman and Krivánek love their characters, they watch them with warm humor, which helps to soften the cruelty emanating from those “ordinary“ and “meaning good“ characters – may it be a cruelty motivated by stupidity or selfishness; feeble-mindedness or indifference. [(an): Not an Everyday Film. Lidová demokracie, January 22, 1970]

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Lilies of the Field [aka Wild Lilies] Ľalie poľné / b&w+color / 80 min. Directed by: Elo Havetta • Story: Vincent Šikula – based on his short story There isn’t an Inn on Every Hill (Nebýva na každom vŕšku hostinec) • Screenplay: Vincent Šikula • Director of photography: Jozef Šimončič • Music: Zdeněk Liška • Cast: Lotár Radványi (Matej Hejgeš) / Vladimír Kostovič (Krujbel) / Žofia Martišová (Paula) / Ivan Krivosudský (Kerenský) / Emil Tomaščík (Paula’s Manservant) / Ľudovít Kroner (Šimon) / Marian Filadelfi (Freckled Lojzo) / Augustín Kubán (Vendel Truchan) / Peter Debnár (Monk and Postman) / Ladislav Huber (Teacher)




In the immediate aftermath of the First World War, two war veterans, Matej and Krujbel, journey round the country trying to find a home and to put down roots. Matej, who makes his living as a musician, sleeps with the widow Paula, but the prospect of marriage proves illusory. Eventually, the two wanderers are united for a hallucinatory ride in the widow’s cart along with an assortment of other eccentric characters. Elo Havetta’s second feature is full of the spirit of carnival and contains no less than three festive gatherings. Constructed on the model of a music composition with

a range of motifs and leitmotifs, the film’s mainly monochrome images create the sense of old photographs. The crippled and itinerant musicians, the firemen’s bands, folk songs, and military fanfares suggest a tendency for life to become music and music to become life. Scripted by novelist Vincent Šikula and adapted from his own novel, the film is also notable for the invention and relentless energy of Zdeněk Liška’s score.

Press Coverage



Sun, rain, lilies of the field – it is a poetical film with a nostalgic air. The brief stories of proletarian heroes do not, according to the screenplay, compose a solid unit with all the attributes a drama ought to have. Rather, they make up an epic narration about the lives of ordinary people, creating a picture of a time period with a unique atmosphere. Naturally, in its essence, the film is a condemnation of bourgeois pseudo-humanism.

The fundamental meaning of Havetta’s work resembles the works of Fulla and Galanda, which in the 1930s embraced modernism, and is identical with the efforts of Jamnický and Hoffman, which in the 1940s introduced avant-garde trends in Slovak theatre and drama. In the late 1960s, Havetta and his contemporaries stepped out of the shade of regionalism and brought the latest tendencies into Slovak cinema.

[-bt-: Sun, Rain, Lilies of the Field. Elo Havetta’s

[ Václav Macek: Elo Havetta 1938 – 1975,

New Film. Film a divadlo 21/1971 ]

Film a doba 2/1989]

The film takes a surprising turn away from Havetta’s previous nervous poetics. The calm and lazy atmosphere of heavy summer days complements the epic tone of the story, which is nonetheless subject to Havetta’s vision and perception of the vibrating tension of human existence. (…) In terms of formal means, the film is set up on the principles of a musical composition. The motives reappear in variations, they are repeated, and they overlap and return, all of this just to conclude in a magnificent ending. Its testimony of social reality and its humanistic anti-war mood result in a moving and intense picture.

Lilies of the Field have nothing in common with the presently ruling descriptive narration techniques. They are an expression of a liberated and spontaneous rhythm inspired by folk poetry, surrealism, and naive artists. They are outgoing, sincere, and bursting with an eruption of visual ideas. The heroes of this film are compared to the birds of the air, that do not sow or reap and still survive; and to the lilies of the field that do not care about their clothing and still they grow in beauty. And they are just as fragile...

[Galina Kopaněvová: Elo Havetta’s Discontented Nomads, Kino 6/1993]


[ Jan Jaroš: The Story of Tramps. Zemědělské noviny, March 8, 1990]

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Pictures of the Old World Obrazy starého sveta / b&w / 67 min. Directed by: Dušan Hanák • Story and screenplay: Dušan Hanák • Director of photography: Alojz Hanúsek • Music: G.F. Händel / Václav Hálek / Jozef Malovec • Editor: Alfréd Benčič • Featuring: Verona Ralíková / Adam Kura / Jozef Orságh / Juraj Michalík / Františka Ševčíková / Adam Struhárňanský / Jozef Račko / Alojz Kováč / Matej Dudka / Anton Miček




Hanák’s second full length film is an outstanding documentary that was banned until 1988, when it received international critical acclaim. In 2000, Slovak critics voted it the best Slovak film of all time. It was inspired by the photographs of Martin Martinček, who had recorded the landscape and people of the Liptov region. The film documents the lives of nine old people, five of whom had also featured in Martinček’s photographs. Among them are: a man who uses himself as a draught animal to pull his plough, a man crippled from the knees down, who nonetheless looks after his

sheep, chops wood, and has built a house, a man who served in the Austro-Hungarian army and now digs potatoes, and one who plays bagpipes to his sheep. In several montage sequences, they respond to simple questions about the meaning and value of life. The textures of faces, of hands, and of landscape predominate alongside an obstinate vitality and desire for life. Condemned by a blinkered bureaucracy for its “aesthetics of ugliness”, Hanák’s sensitive and careful handling of his subject resulted in one of the great works of documentary cinema.

Press Coverage The genuine documentary value of the film, the power of the stories of people, the depth of natural philosophy, the sum of humane ideals, the culture of the film language, the author’s tribute to man, the perfect dramaturgy and shape of the picture – all of these attributes met the spontaneous welcome of the audience, the interest of the press and the hearty welcome of the international jury at the festival in Nyon. [ Martin Slivka: Slovak Film Success. Nové slovo 48/1988]

The film looks into the depths of the human soul, which is the hidden home of the most human of all emotions – the eternal and immortal desire of people for freedom. [ A. J. Fraňo: Pictures of the Old World or Going

Awards Alcan Award for Best Film – Montreal Festival of New Film and Video 1990 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Documentary Film, 1990 Nominated for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Annual Award in the Documentary Film Category, 1991 Grand Prix Golden Sestercius, Audience Award, Award of the Youth Jury, and Honorary Mention of the Ecumenical Jury – 20th Nyon International Festival of Documentary Films 1988 Don Quixote Award (FICC), FIPRESCI Award, and Prize of the GDR Film and Television Producers Union – 31st Leipzig International Week of Documentary and Short Films 1988 Main Prize for Best Film – 4th Munich International Festival of Documentary Films 1989 Special Mention of the Documentary Jury – European Film Award, 1989, Paris

Back to the Roots. Film a divadlo 8/1972 ]



Pictures of the Old World are patiently revealing the world of lonely old people while stepping into their thinking, desires, and dreams, which have or have not come true. The film is a testimony that does not try to make things look more than what they are or see reality nicer than it is. It is a testimony fuelled by trust in and love for people and the values that are disappearing from art and from life. [ Jan Jaroš: On the Wisdom of Countrymen. Zemědělské noviny, April 7, 1990]


With cinematographer Alojz Hanúsek, and based on five photography series by Martin Martinček, the director made a documentary portrait of images, memories and life views of old people who have reached the final stage of their journey. He then used (...) the prevailingly static, sculpturizing images to create a poem about the strength with which people overcome the adversities of fate, subject themselves to the passing of time, harmonize their life with nature, contemplate the world and their place in it, seek their human nature, and remain human and help others to be the same. [ Jan Bernard: The Hanák Case. Scéna 17/1988]

The film is quite intense thanks to the style of cinematography as delivered by Alojz Hanúsek, who in his images adds light and dignity to poverty, emphasizing the poetic rather than the tragic atmosphere. We should also note Händel’s monumental music. Together with the flute, the fujara, and the melody of old clocks, it creates a colorful and homogenous musical spectrum for the film. [ Václav Macek: Dušan Hanák. Bratislava: Nadácia FOTOFO, SFÚ–NKC, FTF VŠMU, 1996]

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Jurko the Brigand [aka Brigand Jurko] Zbojník Jurko / color / 79 min. Directed by: Viktor Kubal • Story: Viktor Kubal • Screenplay: Viktor Kubal • Visual design and animation: Viktor Kubal • Director of photography: Jozef Ružička • Music: Juraj Lexmann • Editor: Margita Eleková




Viktor Kubal’s first animated feature retells the best known of the legends about the legendary bandit Jánošík. Here the baby Jurko’s mother is arrested, but he is suckled by a fairy spirit, who revisits him at key points in the story to provide him with the magic belt that gives him almost superhuman powers, and ensuring his final escape to an apparently eternal life in the mountains. Kubal, who went to school in Jánošík’s home town and had heard many of the Jánošík stories, argued that he wanted to make his hero ‘pure’, avoiding conventional fights and conflicts. While he main-

tains a physicality that recalls Paľo Bielik’s performance in the 1936 film, his image is imbued with a simple elegance. Before creating his backgrounds, Kubal spent days absorbing the atmosphere of the mountains. His images evoke Japanese watercolors, also ranging from crayon drawings to the more abstract style used in the dance of the bandits. The simple and graceful lines of his human figures together with the natural beauty of the setting and the child-like animals of a fairy story create a special mood that is enhanced by Juraj Lexmann’s folk-influenced score.

Press Coverage Similarly to Kubal's animated shorts, Jurko the Brigand proves that its author is a filmmaker of unusual vitality, a man of a rare pure heart and unambivalent social attitude. He is said to be the Slovakian Jiří Trnka. This is only an attempt to categorize Viktor Kubal, but really he is an original personality with a highly individual, unique visual expression and thinking. [js: Jurko the Brigand, Mladá fronta, December 8, 1975]

96 Awards

Kubal's Jurko the Brigand is an ingenious polemical take on romantic interpretations of Jánošík. It aims at stripping this heroic character of pathos and, in line with the chosen animated style, prefers gag techniques and elements of modern humor. Along with the classical tools of slapstick cartoon, which Kubal learned from the American masters of the "Golden Age", his film includes creative forms from McLaren's workshop and Lotte Reiniger’s shadow film. All these influences merge into a consequential and consistent expression. [ Rudolf Urc: Opinion of the Month. 1/2001 ]

Award for Best Animated Film – Lyon International Film Festival 1981 Grand Prix – 1st Bourg-en-Bresse Festival of Animated Feature Films for Children 1982



Despite the fact he is a legendary bandit, the new adventures of Juro Jánošík, as the strapline for the film suggests, carry a strong imprint of Kubal's vision as well as a unique kind of poetic humor. [-h-: Jurko the Brigand. Televízia 40/1980]

The simple animation and major simplification of the figures, the poignant serious-and-comic characterization, and the interpretations of well-known motifs of this legendary hero resulted in an impressive artistic film, which will surely resonate with its audience because it is engaging and equally understandable by children and adults. In Kubal's film, Jánošík will not hang on the gallows, he is immortal and his spirit lives on to this day. The ones that die are injustice and negative human traits, which are mocked and rejected by common wisdom, wit, and imagination. [ V. Jablonický: Jánošík as Depicted by Kubal, Hlas ľudu, February 26, 1977 ]

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Rosy Dreams [aka Pink Dreams] Ružové sny / color / 84 min. Directed by: Dušan Hanák • Story and screenplay: Dušan Hanák / Dušan Dušek • Director of photography: Jozef Šimončič • Music: Petr Hapka • Cast: Juraj Nvota (Jakub) / Iva Bittová (Jolana Danielová) / Josef Hlinomaz (Jakub’s Uncle Anton) / Marie Motlová (Auntie Múčková) / Ľudovít Kroner (Marcel) / Libuše Havelková (Post Office Manager) / Václav Babka (Postman Babjak) / Hana Slivková (Jakub’s Mother) / Anton Trón (Jakub’s Father) / Věra Bílá (Gita)




The film is a lyrical tale of the love between Jakub, a young postman, and a young Roma girl, Jolanka. He provides one of the few links between the Slovak and Roma communities, which live side by side in a state of mutual suspicion. Jolanka is not encouraged by her own people to go out with ‘a paleface’, is instantly rejected by Jakub’s parents, and is automatically suspected of stealing. The film emphasizes fantasy as Jakub performs acrobatic tricks on his bicycle and produces birds from under his hat while Jolanka casts a spell on him by slipping a hair from her armpit into his coat

pocket. Their elopement ends when Jakub is arrested by the police and the Roma ensure her return to a marriage within the community. Hanák’s film gains considerable force from its research into Roma life and the scenes set in a real Roma village and marked the film debuts of the internationally known singer and musician, Iva Bittová, in the role of Jolanka, and the stage and film director Juraj Nvota as Jakub. Strikingly photographed by Dodo Šimončič, it powerfully echoes the freedom and humanity of some of the best films of the 1960s.

Press Coverage This film charms diverse audiences mainly by its captivating emotionality and the genuine, humble feelings depicted in an extensive range from playful carelessness to intense melancholy. (...) Hanák, who is one of the younger generation of Slovak filmmakers, made his film with the lightness of an experienced professional. He found a number of excellent types, and actors match the non-actors really well. His original attitude is that of a documaker gifted by imagination, understanding, and unburdened by a tendency toward descriptiveness. [(ae): Premieres at Our Cinemas. Zemědělské noviny, May 12, 1977 ]

Awards Grand Prix in Feature Films Competition and Association for Art and Film Common Viewers Award – 2nd Alés International Film Festival 1980 Special Mention of the Jury – 6th Tehran International Film Festival 1977



Rosy Dreams is one of the most original pictures in the context of Slovak fiction cinema. And this is so thanks to numerous creative ideas functionally engaged in the film structure. But even more so because this film has a genuine story, it challenges convention and stereotype, and offers an honest auteurship that captures the theme and finds its adequate artistic expression. [ Peter Mihálik: Authentic and Sincere


Reflection. Smena, April 14, 1977 ]

You may say there have been many similar stories of great young love seen on movie screens. Right, but with Rosy Dreams one must not forget, that it is genuine and the filmmakers nod in agreement to the story taken from life. They worked with an admirable fullness of emotion and without a slightest trace of sentimentality, with full life force and an accurate, specific setting. [ Jan Hořejší: Rosy Dreams. Práce, July 7, 1977 ]

They say there is not much new left to be done in the craft; they say we have seen it all. And this, not tragic, narrative about Romeo and Juliet from a small Slovak village brings filmic reminiscences too. But still, it is an original. A frank and cheerful film full of fantasies, it is one of the best productions of this year. With full right did Rosy Dreams win the main prize, the Great Gold Sun, at the Špindlerův Mlýn Youth Film Festival. [ M. Pavlíčková: Rosy Dreams. Mladá Fronta, June 3, 1977 ]

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The Winner Víťaz / color / 81 min. Directed by: Dušan Trančík • Story and screenplay: Tibor Vichta / Dušan Trančík • Director of photography: Viktor Svoboda • Music: Svetozár Štúr • Editor: Alfréd Benčič • Cast: Jaroslav Tomsa (Vladimír Valhar) / Jaroslav Pucher (Vinco Moravec) / Dagmar Kováčiková (Viola) / Pavla Božíková (Justína Kmeťková, Belan’s Daughter) / Gejza Maráky (Miki Belan) / Juraj Králik (Imro Kmeťko, Justína’s Husband) / Kristína Sitárová (Božena Luknárová, Valhar’s Ex-Wife) / Věra Uzelacová (Jana Moravcová)




Two boxers prepare to meet in the ring again in a re-run of a previous contest. The former champion works as a garage hand while the former runner-up is a successful businessman and boxing expert, who ‘gets to travel the world’. While there is no hint of politics in the film, one can certainly speculate as to why the ex-champion, Vladimír Valhar, enjoys a low social status and the politically and economically successful Jaroslav needs to prove himself. However, the film’s central theme, which raises a number of basic moral questions, remains subservient to its observation of the protagonists

and their relatives. Short, almost elliptical sequences touch on the simplest of scenes with great perception and a similarly light touch presents relationships with considerable insight. The film displayed a sense of authenticity and vigor rare in the sanitized cinema of the late 1970s. The use of natural light and portrayal of the life of the city reveal Dušan Trančík’s background in documentary filmmaking. From the perspective of the present, it is difficult to see why this film was included amongst those condemned for the “aesthetics of ugliness”.

Press Coverage In the framework of current Slovak film production, The Winner stands out for at least another reason: it transports to the screen a fragment of genuine, authentic, everyday reality, captured by a remarkable sense of detail, scene composition, and dynamic editing. The director and his cinematographer gave up any artificial stylization. They bravely embraced the naturalism of authentic environments and characters with their very own intimacy, against a background of the passing time and their original, ‘ungroomed‘ local setting.

The story of two former boxer rivals who come up with the crazy idea of fighting each other again after twenty years, while the match means also a battle of two divergent approaches to the world, is more relevant for a short film than a feature. Nevertheless, it is clear that in terms of the true picture of the anxiety and destruction of normalized Czechoslovakia, The Winner does not have an equal among all the rest of contemporary Czech films.

[ Jozef Puškáš: Loser’s Honour. Pravda,

March 30, 2002 ]

March 15, 1979]




[ Josef Chuchma: Clear-Cut Borders Missing Between Winners and Losers. MF Dnes,

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Bloody Lady Krvavá pani / color / 74 min. Directed by: Viktor Kubal • Story: Viktor Kubal • Screenplay: Viktor Kubal design and animation: Viktor Kubal • Director of photography: Otto Geyer Juraj Lexmann • Editor: Marta Solárová




Viktor Kubal’s second animation feature recreates the story of the Lady of Čachtice, otherwise known as Erzsébet Báthory, the “Bloody Countess”. Here the story of the woman who bathed in the blood of virgins becomes folk legend. She is initially an innocent and loving young woman but, after becoming drenched in a thunderstorm, she contracts a fever, and is nursed back to health by a woodsman in his cottage. She falls in love and literally leaves him her heart. Her character changes instantly, she treats her favourite animals with cruelty, and she is soon whitening her skin with

• Visual • Music:

the blood of her victims. The legend takes its course, and she spurns the return of her heart, although it is finally restored. The simple, flowing lines of Kubal’s composition give the complexities of his story a particular force, as the film embraces moods that range from lyricism to expressionism, with small gestures and movements that are both humorous and critical. Filmed without dialogue or commentary, its inventive and pure use of color is complemented by Juraj Lexmann’s atmospheric score.

Press Coverage The Bloody Lady is an example of screenwriting mastery and precise dramaturgic composition. Despite the reduced imagery and limited animation, the director Viktor Kubal has the skill to pace suspense and play the audience’s emotional strings. Well-observed elements of melodrama together with Kubal’s natural affinity for parody turned this film into an original synthesis of the two genres. Inevitably, a comparison comes to mind with another master of horror (and its parody), Alfred Hitchcock. [ Rudolf Urc: Back to the Film Archive: The Bloody Lady. Práca, January 17, 2001 ]


We would be afraid to recommend the legend of the Lady of Čachtice for a fiction feature. And yet, in his animated version Viktor Kubal proved that folk legends remain attractive for both filmmakers and audiences. (...) Dramaturge Rudolf Urc and author of the script, Viktor Kubal, showed their subtle taste. They were not sidetracked by the effectiveness of horror movies and they stayed focused on the form of a folk tale, which they adapted to the needs of today’s audiences. [ Ivan Bonko: A Legend on the Screen.



Nové slovo 10/1981 ]

Viktor Kubal (1923 – 1997) was a major figure of Slovak animated cinema. Since he was able to make a feature-length film all alone while also making a vast number of shorts, he set the bar high and it won’t be easy to surpass it. (...) At the time the most popular Slovak film, Kubal’s Bloody Lady is the most inventive adaptation of the wellknown story. Not only because the author chose animation, but also for his new, almost fairy-tale-like interpretation. He turns into a romance the story of a countess who, in her pursuit of eternal youth and beauty, went so far as to annihilate youth and beauty around her. (...) Kubal filled his film with visual and semantic games, which allow his minimalist drawing to carry the quite complicated script well. Also, the images are supported by the excellent score by Juraj Lexmann. [ Denisa Doričová: A Romance That Makes Your Blood Run Cold. Hospodárske noviny, August 2, 2005]

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I Love, You Love Ja milujem, ty miluješ / color / 100 min. Directed by: Dušan Hanák • Story and screenplay: Dušan Dušek / Dušan Hanák • Director of photography: Jozef Ort-Šnep / Alojz Hanúsek • Music: Miroslav Kořínek • Editor: Alfréd Benčič • Cast: Roman Klosowski (Pišta) / Iva Janžurová (Viera) / Milan Jelić (Vinco) / Milada Ježková (Pišta’s Mother) / Václav Babka (Albínko) / Marie Motlová (Sida) / Ľudovít Reiter (Papal) / Juraj Nvota (Jarko) / Eszter Csákányi (Milka) / Ivan Palúch (Rudo) / Věra Bílá (Berta) / Viera Horónyiová (Lipková)




Banned until 1988, when it won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, Dušan Hanák’s second collaboration with writer Dušan Dušek tells a sequence of stories, both comic and sad, based around the characters working at a railway station post office. The central character, Pišta, short and slightly ridiculous in appearance, is unsuccessful with women, and also dependent on drink. After the tragic death of his friend, Vinco, he develops a romantic friendship with Vinco’s pregnant lover, Viera. They remain friends, but she finally rejects him because of his inability to reform. The film

recalls the “humanist realism” of Miloš Forman (the mother from Loves of a Blonde even reappears as Pišta’s mother), but the authorities nonetheless banned it for its negative images. The fairly impoverished setting and open treatment of drunkenness and sexuality were presumably the reasons. Polish actor Roman Klosowski plays Pišta with considerable insight and his internal crisis is treated with great perception. Hanák’s direction is beautifully paced and his multiple characters are treated with compassion and understanding.

Press Coverage Cinematographers Alojz Hanúsek and Jozef Ort-Šnep, together with the director, set decorator, and props staff showed that even the most trivial symbol can be viewed as a work of art.

The film develops the creative achievements of Hanák’s inherent artistic search with his characteristic features and in a sense, this movie is the culmination of his previous intellectual and creative efforts.

[ M. Ciel: Difficult. Film a divadlo, May 22, 1989]

[ P. Janík: Cinema in the Service of Love of Man. Pravda, June 29, 1989]

What fascinates me about I Love, You Love (...) is its elemental positivity. There is not a single character that would not be suffering in some way, that would not live lacking or striving in vain for love. As if all the characters were at the wrong place at the wrong time. And yet, there are few Slovak films carrying as deep a belief in purpose existing in all deeds, a belief in the future. This is despite the fact that nearly each moment makes us want to think that the result of the actions will be the contrary to what the characters of this “love on the periphery“ had had in mind. [ V. Macek: The View of the Month.

Awards Silver Bear for Best Director and FIPRESCI Special Mention – 39th Berlin International Film Festival 1989 Main Prize and FIPRESCI Prize – 17th Strasbourg International Film Festival 1989





I Love, You Love is a picture where the lesson learned from the sixties, the prime period of Czechoslovak filmmaking, found its up-to-date expression in the context of the era, not having lost its artistic or intellectual spark – not even after another ten years. [ J. Lukeš: Satisfaction. Kino, Praha, May 9, 1989]

19 80

Signum Laudis Signum laudis / color / 88 min. Directed by: Martin Hollý • Story: Vladimír Kalina • Screenplay: Vladimír Kalina / Jiří Křižan • Director of photography: František Uldrich • Music: Zdeněk Liška • Editor: Ivana Kačírková • Cast: Vlado Müller (Corporal Hoferik) / Josef Bláha (Guard Captain König) / Ilja Prachař (General Berger) / Radovan Lukavský (Grosa) / Jiří Kodet (Lieutenant Kostolány) / Oldřich Velen (Reznitzek) / Ladislav Frej (Ziegler) / Pavel Zedníček (Wimmer) / Miroslav Zounar (Lieutenant Von Paluwski)




An analysis of the absurdity of war and a penetrating account of false ideals, Martin Hollý’s film is a significant portrait of the last years of the First World War and of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Corporal Hoferik takes on the command of a small platoon after all the officers have been killed. His achievements as a commander in a futile encounter lead to the award of ‘Signum Laudis’, an honor normally reserved for officers. Eventually, Hoferik’s unquestioning pursuit of the ideals of ‘fatherland and country’ make him a liability for his superiors (who decide to surrender) and

he is sentenced to death by a court martial, denied even the return of his medal. Powerfully acted by Vlado Müller, Hoferik is a genuine tragic hero hoping for a different world, but strictly adhering to the codes of duty and obedience. Alongside its compelling portrait of the corruption of power, the film creates nightmarish images of the filth and horror of war, accompanied by the numbing whine of artillery shells and the relentless clatter of the machine gun. Like Kubrick’s Paths of Glory, it is one of the key portraits of an insane conflict.

Press Coverage

116 Awards

In Signum Laudis, there are no important victims killed by an anonymous enemy. Rather, there are people dying because others fight for power everywhere around. Here we have Corporal Hoferik with his ideals of obedience and discipline and his sacred respect for orders, rules, and norms. Hoferik is a tragic hero who becomes a victim of his own passivity. His is a personality that degenerates into a machine fulfilling orders since that rises him to the level of men in power. Hollý’s film reveals the problem of war in us – the problem of our participation by our passivity, blind obedience, and lack of confidence. As he shows, wars are provoked not only by social, economic, or nationalistic conflicts but also by internal falsehood and small-mindedness. Hollý’s film stems from the dialectic of guilt and innocence and from the possibility of exchange of the roles of victim and executioner. Signum Laudis depicts emotionless killing during war in slow motion pictures, which stress the monstrosity of death. Hollý does not blame those who trust blindly – in general, he is not searching for someone to blame. [ Václav Macek in: War in Art, Art in War.

Special Award of the Jury – 22nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1980



SAV, Bratislava 1989]

“I offer the same chance to each character. I do not impose censorship on my characters. In Signum Laudis, Hoferik gets all the chances to be human rather than simply remain a dumb creature. I let him decide for himself, and I do not judge him.” [ Martin Hollý in an interview for Film a doba 8/1981 ]

19 81

Night Riders Noční jazdci / color / 91 min. Directed by: Martin Hollý • Story: Marta Kadlečíková / Vít Olmer • Screenplay: Tibor Vichta • Director of photography: František Uldrich • Music: Svetozár Stračina • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: Radoslav Brzobohatý (Halva) / Michal Dočolomanský (Marek Orban) / Soňa Valentová (Halvová) / Leopold Haverl (Babušek) / Petr Čepek (Janoušek) / Jiří Krampol (Borovička) / Jozef Adamovič (Imro Jakuvec) / Ivan Palúch (Paľo-Šebo-Macúch) / Ľubomír Paulovič (Ondro Krtinec) / Hana Gregorová (Žofka)




Filmed in the High Tatras, Martin Hollý’s film is set in the aftermath of the First World War on the borders of Slovakia and Poland. A former member of the Czechoslovak legions, Halva, a Czech, is sent to a customs post in a border village with the task of eliminating horse smuggling. His wife joins him as a nurse and midwife. Marek Orban, the leader of the smugglers, a Slovak, who has also fought in the war, has vowed to make enough money for his fellow villagers to emigrate in search of work in the United States. The film shares many of the characteristics of a west-

ern, but also touches on conflicts within the new state prior to the Treaty of Trianon. While Halva and Orban represent opposing forces, they are essentially decent men caught up in a pointless conflict. While Halva is committed to the new state of Czechoslovakia, the villagers show little interest, and not much commitment to the status quo. A genre film with a difference and a story with some surprising turns, it is filmed with a classical authority and ably supported by the photography of František Uldrich.

Press Coverage Martin Hollý enjoys situations where he can develop his skills in setting up action scenes – that is why the fire at the customs house or the tragic return of the procession and mainly all the motives of running horses are among the best parts of the film. The rough beauty of mountain nature photographed by František Uldrich’s camera should also make an emotional impact. [ E. Zaoralová: Conflict Annuled by History. Svobodné slovo, June 26, 1981 ]

Thanks to the script of Tibor Vichta, Night Riders is probably Radoslav Brzobohatý’s biggest and best film role ever. [ J. Richter: The Impact of War Struggle. Večerní Praha, June 24, 1981 ]




Through the stories of its heroes, the film portrays the social situation and the afterwar atmosphere in one of the poorest regions of the Republic. It is the result of another successful cooperation of Czech and Slovak filmmakers... [ Z. T.: Films of the Week. Ľud, June 19, 1981 ]

In the sum of its extraordinary qualities, including Vichta’s dialogues, Stračina’s music, and a rare harmony of acting performances, Night Riders is a film deserving the closest viewer attention. [(a): Premieres in Our Cinemas. Zemědělské noviny, June 25, 1981 ]

19 81

The Assistant Pomocník / color / 94 min. Directed by: Zoro Záhon • Story: Ladislav Ballek – based on his novel The Assistant (Pomocník) • Screenplay: Ondrej Šulaj • Director of photography: Dodo Šimončič • Music: Svetozár Štúr • Editor: Maximilián Remeň • Cast: Gábor Koncz (Assistant Volent Lančarič) / Elo Romančík (Štefan Riečan) / Ildikó Pécsi (Riečanová) / Marta Sládečková (Eva Riečanová) / Milan Kiš (Filadelfi) / Ivan Mistrík (Dobrík) / Jozef Ropog (Török) / Hana Talpová (Agáta) / Július Satinský (Bielik)




Just after the ending of the Second World War, Štefan Riečan, a resistance fighter from the north, takes over a former Hungarian butcher’s shop on the Slovak-Hungarian border. However, he also inherits the butcher’s assistant, Volent Lančarič, who is well connected in the local community, and exploits his position through successful transactions on the black market. Lančarič, who prefers to speak Hungarian, but also speaks Serbian and Slovak, does not approve of borders. He acquires an impressive villa for his new master’s family, but rapidly begins to achieve a dominant

position over them. Riečan’s family begins to break up as they acquire the trappings of wealth, with his wife, and subsequently, his daughter, ending up as Volent’s lovers. Lančarič releases forces over which even he has no control. Ondrej Šulaj originally adapted Ladislav Ballek’s novel as a stage play, marking a significant breakthrough in Slovak theatre in the late 1970s. The film version, although slightly amended, nonetheless constituted a significant critical work (certainly if read allegorically), and received the Czechoslovak Critics Award in 1982.

Press Coverage


[ E. Kincelová: The Assistant’s Prey. Práca,

Awards Special Grand Prix – 23rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 1982


The film’s director, Zoro Záhon, knew that necessary for this film is the atmosphere of a small southern border town (unique by its local color, types of people, and their way of life) and criticism of provincial manners and greed, which would resonate with the thinking and feelings of today’s viewers… Moreover, that it called for a truly mature cast. (…) The film reveals honest and wellplanned directing and the result is more than praiseworthy. This is also thanks to the contribution of Dodo Šimončič, director of photography, who had shown us often in the past that he is one of the best in his profession. He is a cinematographer who knows his subject matter and approaches each story differently, accentuating what is essential: in this case, it was the mood of the setting with accurate focus on the lead characters. The story is accompanied by the expressive music of Svetozár Štúr, an inventive and extremely talented composer. An ambitious crew created a film that is attractive, valuable, and pays no heed to cheap taste. June 25, 1982 ]


Film director Zoro Záhon’s fundamentally historical drama reveals parallels with the present times. The director considers universal and timeless the topic of the rise and fall of the Riečan family situated in the years after the war. (…) Central to the story is the clash of two contradictory attitudes to life – ascetism and hedonism, passivity and ruthless rapaciousness. Ballek’s novel had become a bestseller in Slovakia because its central theme applies in any time period. Moreover, in his film director Záhon seems to express his personal standpoint to provincial manners as to an ideology that is far from being a matter of the past. Zoro Záhon uses artistic means to reveal this phenomenon in its very essence. And that, together with the included cinematic methods, make The Assistant very much up to date. [ Zdenka Červenková: The Assistant. Mladá fronta, June 18, 1982 ]

19 83

The Millennial Bee Tisícročná včela / color / 168 min. Directed by: Juraj Jakubisko • Story: Peter Jaroš – based on his novel The Millennial Bee (Tisícročná včela) • Screenplay: Peter Jaroš / Juraj Jakubisko • Director of photography: Stanislav Doršic • Music: Petr Hapka • Editor: Patrik Pašš / Judita Fatulová • Cast: Jozef Kroner (Martin Pichanda) / Štefan Kvietik (Samo) / Michal Dočolomanský (Valent) / Jana Janovská (Ružena) / Ivana Valešová (Mária) / Eva Jakoubková (Kristína) / Pavol Mikulík (Julo) / Igor Čillík (Švanda) / Milan Kiš (Dropa) / Štefan Šafárik (Anosta) / Ivan Drozdy (Greben) / Zdeněk Dušek (Oškara)




The most successful Slovak film of the 1980s, Jakubisko’s adaptation of the popular novel by Peter Jaroš attracted considerable international attention. It tells the epic story of a Slovak village between the years 1887 and 1917. Divided into two halves, it focuses on the story of Martin Pichanda in its first section, and of his son Samo in the second. Jaroš’s novel has frequently been categorised as ‘magic realist’, an approach close to that of Jakubisko himself, in which miracles and dreamlike sequences form part of everyday reality. Jaroš’s symbol of the beehive is main-

tained in the film, as is the concept of the ‘thousand-year-old bee’ that intermittently perceives and comments on the action. The image of the bee is specifically linked to that of the central characters, a family of bricklayers, whose experience represents that of the nation. Political watersheds affect the village much like the natural events – ball lightning, a swarm of bats, fire, hail. The film’s highly complex interweaving of multiple narratives and stories receives strong support through Jakubisko’s iconic use of landscape and sense of folk tradition.

Press Coverage Jakubisko’s interpretation of the novel contains many unique film signs. The way simple elements of reality and non-reality dissolve is noteworthy. Even events from beyond the limits of common human experience turn into trivial ones – like a dinner inside a whale’s stomach, or a solemn feast of the living and the dead, a rain of frogs and fish, etc. It is not in contrast to mundane reality, it all reminds us of the mythical times of storytellers, when dreams meant more than reality. Here, the bee is a symbol of creativity and continuity of human labor. It is a symbolical dominant of the film, recalled every time by the buzzing sound of bee hives, as well as by the vision of an enormous bee – a ruler of the universe. This symbolism is made part of the story as a parallel to human lives. People face and resist the world’s adversities with the work of their hands, with love, and vitality.

Awards La Fenice del Cinema (Cultural Centre of the Town of Venice Jury Award) “for artistic design of the work and best cinematography” – 40th International Film Festival Venice 1983 Spanish Film Clubs Confederation Main Prize – 4th International Film Festival Sevilla 1983




[Galina Kopaněvová, Tvorba, February 22, 1984 ]

In the context of Czechoslovak film production of the mid-1980s, this film was a fundamental milestone in Slovak cinema and it became the most popular Slovak film of the decade (a million viewers saw the film in movie theatres at the time of its release). [ Peter Ulman and Miro Ulman: Club Film Guide, SFÚ, Bratislava 2001 ]

“When I have the script ready, I always create at least three versions and then I feel prepared. Of course, I usually tend to work with the version that originates on location and which comes out of reality rather than the one created at my desk. The ideas produced at home or in the office tend to be more conventional than reality. Reality is often even more interesting.” [ Juraj Jakubisko in: Scéna, January 13, 1984 ]

19 84

Sweet Troubles Sladké starosti / color / 88 min. Directed by: Juraj Herz • Story and screenplay: Jozef Paštéka / Milan Ležák • Director of photography: Dodo Šimončič • Music: Michael Kocáb • Editor: Jaromír Janáček • Cast: Emil Horváth ml. (Šimon Šindelka) / Renáta Mašková (Jolana Miklošová) / Andrej Hryc (Fero Balucha) / Pavlína Mourková (Waitress Žela) / Dušan Blaškovič (Baránek) / Antonín Duchoslav (Vojto) / Vladimír Černý (Puco Baránek) / Zora Kolínska (Tereza, Baluch’s Wife) / Marián Labuda (Mikloš)




Šimon Šindelka, an award-winning pastry cook, is still unmarried, and his mother is advertising on his behalf in the lonely hearts columns. In the meantime, he gets photographed with an award-winning cake and a glamorous waitress, with whom he falls in love. She, however, is sleeping with the rascally head waiter, Balucha, who, apart from his various scams, is promising to find her a better job. The film’s principal setting in a kitchen producing cream cakes provides plenty of physical ammunition in this crazy comedy by Juraj Herz. The director of such screen classics as The Cre-

mator, Herz provides an affectionate tribute to eminent predecessors ranging from Mack Sennett to Jacques Tati. The film is full of running gags and comic sequences – note especially the portrayal of families on a sunny afternoon by the shores of the Danube. The characters are well observed, with nicely judged performances by the leading actors – especially Emil Horváth Jr. as the shy hero given to sudden daydreams. Life is not too serious, the characters are likeable, and Herz’s ‘entertainment’ is made with wit and a precise sense of timing.

Press Coverage It has become a sad tradition that an experienced viewer smiled just hearing a film was a Slovak comedy, while a less-experienced movie-goer hardly realized that buying a ticket meant jeopardizing his good mood and often enough even his taste. Sweet Troubles, the latest comedy from the Koliba studios, certainly helps in rehabilitating the genre. And even the box offices will be facing sweet troubles. [ Jana Bžochová: Sweet Troubles Twice. Film

In his work, Juraj Herz focused on individual motives and their detailed rendering in all their elements but as a result, situation comedy and gags are dominant. Those in Sweet Troubles were marked by the humour, comedy, and expression of silent slapstick (e.g. the scene with the firefighters’ drill). The range of elements and means of inspiration by Mack Sennetish slapstick comedy is combined with an original variation of the pie-in-the-face slapstick routine.

a divadlo, September 20, 1984 ]

[ Andrej Obuch: Director Herz’s Sweet Troubles. Sloboda 47/1984 ]

Herz’s sense for detail shows also in the casting and his directing of the actors. Most of them succeeded in creating persuasive characters, while manifesting their talent for comedy. This is certainly true about Emil Horváth ml., who was sensitive in his gestures and movements, adding some warm humour to the character of the confectioner.




[ Martin Šmatlák: A Comedy Not Careless. Pravda, June 29, 1984 ]

19 85

Another Love Iná láska / color / 75 min. Directed by: Dušan Trančík • Story: Jiří Křižan • Screenplay: Jiří Křižan / Dušan Trančík • Director of photography: Alojz Hanúsek • Music: Marián Varga • Editor: Alfréd Benčič • Cast: Maroš Kramár (Peter Hradil) / György Cserhalmi (Joneš) / Zlata Adamovská (Marta Vlachová) / Wilhelm Perháč (Vantuch) / Miloš Černoušek (Milan) / Tomáš Žilinčík (Karol) / Jan Sedal (Francek) / Rudolf Hrušínský ml. (Edo) / Ivana Chýlková (Edita) / Ivan Palúch (Gryga) / Josef Hrubý (Vajzer)




Set in a village in the mountains, Another Love is a portrait of rural life that undermines the more idyllic stereotypes of the village story. Peter, a young medical student, has been placed on probation for two years for performing an illegal abortion, and arrives at the village searching for Marta. She, however, is betrothed to be married. He gets work in the timber business, takes lodgings with an old man, Vantuch, and eventually ends up working for the charismatic Rudo. Despite his ‘criminal’ background, he refuses to be drawn into shady transactions or activities. The film

presents a clever and nuanced portrait of the village community, a world in which nonconformity has no place, and the centre of life seems to focus on the town pub and endless drinking. Everything comes to a head at the hunting society’s dinner, with an inevitable tragedy linked to the internal logic of the characters. However, the authorities imposed a ‘happy ending’, albeit one directed with a sense of irony and wish fulfillment. Trančík’s often oblique observations generate considerable force while the cinematography makes impeccable use of the film’s winter setting.

Press Coverage Viewers and critics will keep thinking about this film for a long time yet. Because it is engaging in all the elements of its excellent composition. The atmosphere was thought through in detail. It reveals not only the hidden inner worlds of its characters but also the social roots of their behavior. Unlike other movies, this film does not lack auteurship, i.e. an expression of a powerful creative personality. Moreover, I get the feeling that all the themes dealt with in other pictures, here they are brought together in a whole.

Trančík and Křižan’s film is a memento. But, it does not express its warning by didactical tools. Rather, it tells a rough, intense story, which is not likable but gets under one’s skin in a very unpleasant way.

[ Alexander Pankratov-Čorný, film actor and

Ľud, April 25, 1986]

director, In: Mladá fronta, March 18, 1986]

136 Awards Special Prize of the Jury – 30th Sanremo International Festival of Auteur Films and First Films 1987



[ Jana Bílková: Touch the Pulse of the Era. Kino, Praha, June 24, 1986]

In this film too, Trančík shows an ability to perceive the contradictory atmosphere of the present and unveils its unpleasant and not always ideal aspects. [ Andrej Obuch: Another Film by Dušan Trančík.

19 87

The Southern Mail Južná pošta / color / 99 min. Directed by: Stanislav Párnický • Story: Ladislav Ballek – based on his novel The Southern Mail (Južná pošta) • Screenplay: Jozef Heriban / Jozef Slovák • Director of photography: Laco Kraus • Music: Ivan Kašlík • Editor: Eduard Klenovský • Cast: Peter Zeman (Ján Jurkovič Jr.) / Jiří Bartoška (Pavol Jurkovič) / Magda Vášáryová (Mária Jurkovičová) / Pavol Mikulík (Pavol Gonda) / Zdena Studenková (Magda Gondová) / Pavel Nový (Jozef Kováč) / Eva Jakoubková (Kováčová) / Gábor Koncz (Žigmund Bodnár) / Iczhak Fintzi (Count Mandarin) / Aleš Helcelet (Hasan El Hubeishi)




Travelling by train on ‘The Southern Mail’, Ján Jurkovič, a 40-year-old writer, recalls his childhood as a 5-year-old boy living on the borders of southern Slovakia in the immediate post-war period. Ladislav Ballek’s original novel comprised seven interlinked autobiographies and the film maintains a similarly discursive approach. Ján’s father is a customs officer patrolling the frontier, and while this central theme ultimately ends in violence and crime, the film is much more concerned with atmosphere, interrelations within the community, and sometimes eccentric characters reflected

through a childhood vision. The children observe the lives of Mr. Michal and his goats, Hassan the café owner (from Bagdad), Žigmund Bodnár, the former sailor who fears nothing, and Kováč the smuggler. The film evokes a landscape of astonishing beauty but, above all, tells its stories in a relaxed and low-key manner. A perceptive and carefully modulated film, it creates a sense of remembrance, in which an illusory permanence gives way to inevitable change.

Press Coverage (...) if The Southern Mail truly is the best Slovak film produced in 1987, then it is most certainly above average in a broader time frame. It is not only a sensitive look into the unexpectedly existential sadness of a child’s soul. It is also a credible reflection of ethical values within the family where mainly the symbolic ‘border gives meaning to everything’.

(...) the director can also be praised for his fascinating way of transferring Ballek’s characters into the film language. Similarly amazing is the way he works with his cast. He managed to coordinate amateur (child) actors with professionals and bring out the best in them so that their performances need no explanation.

[ J. Lukeš: The Magical World of Childhood.

Services Department of the Slovak Film

Kino, January 31, 1989]


The screenwriters provided this adaptation with space for developing symbols and situations hinted at rather than expressed while the parts more difficult to define were taken over by the narrator. [ D. Mlynarčíková: The Arrival of the Southern Mail. Film a divadlo 3/1988]




[ The Southern Mail, an analysis by the Library

19 89

A Path across the Danube Chodník cez Dunaj / color / 92 min. Directed by: Miloslav Luther • Story: Vladimír Körner • Screenplay: Vladimír Körner / Marián Puobiš / Miloslav Luther • Director of photography: Vladimír Holloš • Music: Jiří Bulis • Editor: Alfréd Benčič • Cast: Roman Luknár (Viktor Lesa) / Vladimír Hajdu (Ticháček) / Györgyi Tarján (Zuzka) / Eva Horká (Jarunka) / Bronislav Poloczek (State Official) / Jiří Schwarz (Hasil) / Ondřej Vetchý (Valášek) / Mátyás Dráfi (Sergeant) / Miloš Pietor (Doctor) / Jozef Husár (Hunter) / Václav Babka (Reich Postman)




During the Second World War, Czechoslovakia was divided into the German dominated Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia and the ‘independent’ republic of Slovakia. Viktor Lesa, a former pilot, works for the postal service on Slovak Railways, and frequently visits the town of Ludendorf (formerly Břeclav), in Moravia, near the Slovak border. Due to his deliberate misdirection of an important package, he provokes a visit from the Gestapo, and he and the partJewish clerk Ticháček are forced to go on the run. After the killing of a policeman in a struggle, they cross the Danube into

Hungary with the intention of escaping to the Near East. Developed from a script by Czech screenwriter Vladimir Körner (Adelheid), the film cleverly portrays the relations between Slovaks, Czechs, Jews, and Hungarians in a world in which the historical past inflects the new present of Nazi domination. The images of trains, buses, and carts create their own unique poetry while the music of Jiří Bulis makes a telling use of musical color.

Press Coverage The film impresses by the actors cast in the lead roles. Roman Luknár is excellent as the pretender and individual player, Viktor. Ady Hajdu, on the other hand, lives the nature of Viktor’s anxious companion in escape, Ticháček, who is full of fear. [ Peter Michalík: A Path across the Danube. Filmové listy – LFŠ, July 29, 1999]

The makers of The Path across the Danube aim at picturing war as a crisis of social relations and moral values, present in everyone’s life. There is no escaping this crisis – it enters even the human soul and puts a man’s attitudes and actions to the test. Mass hysteria and demagogic thinking turn a childish joke into tragedy and recklessness suddenly puts human lives in jeopardy. Remarkable is also the attempt, however insecure, to portray the legacy of socially differentiated civil resistance in the Second World War.

Awards Monegasque Red Cross Order – Special prize awarded by the Prince of Monaco (Prix de la Croix Rouge Monegasque) to a film fighting for peace, ideas of humanism and tolerance – 30th Monte Carlo International Television Festival 1990




[ Martin Šmatlák: A Path for Two. Dialóg, October 24, 1989]

The film (...) seems to be loosely continuing the tradition of the 1960s – not so much in terms of style but rather in terms of various themes taken from the times of the Second World War. Miloslav Luther shows how unnecessary are images of attacking German tanks, special effects of flame throwers, heroic partisan actions and guerilla warfare, or a love story between a lieutenant and a radio operator. (...) Luther’s realistic handwriting has never had a tendency to be self-justified or superficially insightful and he has never wanted to make films attractive for the sake of commercial success. That is also why his feature films can be screened whenever, in any country or era. [ Martin Ciel: Actors and Fugitives. 12/2005]

19 89

I’m Sitting in a Tree and I Feel Fine [aka Sitting on a Branch I Am Fine] Sedím na konári a je mi dobre / color / 126 min. Directed by: Juraj Jakubisko • Story: Juraj Jakubisko • Screenplay: Juraj Jakubisko / Jozef Paštéka • Director of photography: Ladislav Kraus • Music: Jiří Bulis • Editor: Patrik Pašš • Cast: Boleslav Polívka (Pepe) / Ondřej Pavelka (Prengel) / Markéta Hrubešová (Ester) / Deana Horváthová (Želmíra) / Miroslav Macháček (Postman Krištofík) / Štefan Kvietik (Captain Kornet) / Stanislav Štepka (Hitler)




Made in the last years before the fall of the Communist system, the film’s story echoes that of Jakubisko’s seminal Birdies, Orphans, and Fools. His two heroes, Pepe and Prengel, survive the Second World War, accidentally discover a hoard of jewels and gold, and take over the house and trade of a former Jewish baker called Mahler. After finding a portrait of his striking red-haired daughter, Ester, they meet up with a girl who resembles her and take her home to live with them. Subsequent to the Communist takeover, ‘Ester’ is killed in a robbery and the two friends find themselves in pris-

on after being denounced to the authorities. When they are released, they reclaim ‘Ester’’s child, who grows into the woman they had previously loved. The two heroes maintain their laughter and dreams in the face of adversity. Like most of Jakubisko’s work, the film veers between farce and tragedy and, in Czechoslovakia in 1989, the carnival scene in which Hitler and Stalin march together arm in arm could still be considered controversial. However, in the era of ‘glasnost’, the film was awarded at the Moscow Film Festival.

Press Coverage

Awards Jury Prize and Alsace Media Award – 18th Strasbourg International Film Festival 1990 Special Prize – 1st Moscow Interfest International Film Festival 1990 Best Film Award – Festival of Slovak Cinema Cran-Gevrier 1999



Laco Kraus’s photography doubtlessly contributed to the excellent visual impression of this film. Despite a demanding dynamic cinematography, often navigating the camera above the scenes and in motion, he preserved the poetic feel of the film and its uncorrupted and pure style. This movie is another proof of Bolek Polívka’s unique talent as an actor. Not only did he use his very own performing expression, he also adapted perfectly to Jakubisko’s lead.

The film... enters the coordinates of current cinema as a groundbreaking contribution, while it is definitely not merely the work of a lucky coincidence or favorable circumstances. It has been maturing in the plans of the Koliba film studios and in the filmmaker’s inner world for years. The resulting picture reveals many signs of a concentrated effort to express the most fundamental features of the author’s lifelong professional and personal direction.

[ Jarmila Andrejčáková: From the Secret

[ Pavol Janík: The Wizard of Slovak Cinema.

Chamber. Roľnícke noviny, June 8, 1989]

Pravda, June 27, 1989]

I’m Sitting in a Tree and I Feel Fine is the director’s latest major artistic achievement not too different from the monumental nature of his The Millennial Bee. The movie develops the possibilities of a chronicling way of narration focused on our recent history. Similarly, it is a major step towards the settling of accounts with the dark sides of modern history. [ Jan Jaroš: Sitting on a Branch (And I Am Fine). Film a doba 11/1989]


19 91

Tenderness Neha / color / 108 min. Directed by: Martin Šulík • Story and screenplay: Ondrej Šulaj / Martin Šulík • Director of photography: Martin Štrba • Music: Vladimír Godár • Editor: Dušan Milko • Cast: Gejza Benkő (Šimon) / Maria Pakulnis (Mária) / György Cserhalmi (Viktor) / Iva Bittová (Marta) / Adela Gáborová (Šimon’s Mother) / Stanislav Štepka (Šimon’s Father)




Scripted by Ondrej Šulaj, Martin Šulík’s first feature film tells the story of a young student, Šimon, who is gradually drawn into the relationship between an older couple, Viktor and Mária. Their relations seem to be based on both passion and cruelty, and Viktor’s impulsive behaviour reveals a suppressed violence counterbalanced by a desire to be suddenly caring. Šimon becomes an essential element in the communication between them. An intense and dramatic film, full of both deliberate and unconscious psychological manipulation, the casting of Hungarian actor György Cser-

halmi as Viktor and Polish actress Maria Pakulnis as Mária gives it a resonance extending beyond any particular society. The film is nonetheless a world apart from the official cinema promoted during the years of ‘normalisation’. Largely set in a claustrophobic internal space, the design and lighting combine to provide a work of considerable formal and visual distinction. Šulík’s precise, sympathetic, and analytical direction heralded the arrival of a major new talent.

Press Coverage


Martin Šulík became known to a wider public after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution of 1989, at the time of rapid and intense changes taking place in Central and Eastern Europe. Thanks to his focused and singularly integrated creative nature, inspired by his own country, he soon became the leading Slovak filmmaker of the 1990s. (...) In his highly original directing debut, Šulík turned away from what used to be an unwritten law – in terms of classical Slovak dramaturgy bound by the ideological ties of the 1970s and ‘80s. Provokingly, he went around the demand of a psycho-social placement of his characters, avoided exact definition of place and time and created an uprooted character, Šimon. (...) Šulík freed his first movie from the unwritten obligation to “reflect reality truthfully“ and freed his hands to make a formally more stylized, more abstract and artistically more demanding picture that no longer portrays social reality directly, rather a certain feeling of the era... [ Zuzana Gindl-Tatárová: Tenderness. Projekt 100/2012 –, August 2012 ]



... I like this movie. I would even say that following the famous three debuts – by Juraj Jakubisko, Dušan Hanák, and Elo Havetta – it is the best Slovak feature debut ever (which, however, is no excuse for its fruit flies). And since I am making comparisons within the context of Slovak cinema, it must be noted that this movie stands out by its universal theme, since it portrays universal human issues that apply anywhere and everywhere, be it before or after any kind of regime change... [ Martin Ciel: Tenderness, or a Movie about a Lack Thereof. Kultúrny život 25/1991 ]

Although Tenderness has evidently been inspired by Tarkovski’s films and by Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, this film finally has what Slovak films (with very few exceptions) usually lack. What I mean is the category of beauty, sensitive art direction in the choice of locations, studio sets, and frame compositions, their coloring, and so on. [ Viera Langerová: Withering without Life. Kultúrny život 25/1991 ]






Stanislav Barabáš 1924 / Kalinka [today Vígľašská Huta-Kalinka] 1994 / Hamburg




FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER. He studied Law for three years at the Comenius University in Bratislava before moving on to Film Directing at the FAMU Film School in Prague [1946 – 50]. He did not graduate until 1963 with his first feature fiction film, The Song of the Grey Pigeon [Pieseň o sivom holubovi, 1961]. In 1950 – 56 he worked at the Slovak Studios of the Czechoslovak State Film company as a director of documentaries – The Land Gives More [Zem môže dať viac, 1950], Work Heroes [Hrdinovia práce, 1951]. During his military service [1951 – 53] he was stationed at the Czechoslovak Army Film studios in Prague, where he made newsreels and film reports – Sports Day at the Strahov Stadium [Sportovní odpoledne na Strahově, 1953] and Songs of Heroes [Písně hrdinů, 1954]. Later he returned to the Documentary Film Studio in Bratislava as its manager [1954 – 56]; here he made the feature documentary about the Slovak National Uprising – For Freedom [Za slobodu, 1955]. In 1956, he asked to be transferred to the Fiction Film Studio where he started out as an assistant director. Barabáš worked with Paľo Bielik on the making of Forty-Four Mutineers [Štyridsaťštyri, 1957] and Captain Dabač [Kapitán Dabač, 1959] and with František Kudláč on The Last Home-Coming [Posledný návrat, 1958]. After his directing debut The Song of the Grey Pigeon [1961] he made The Angelos Trio [Trio Angelos, 1963], The Bells Toll for the Barefooted [Zvony pre bosých, 1965] and Tango for a Bear [Tango pre medveďa, 1966]. His TV adaptation of F.M. Dostoevsky’s A Gentle Creature [Krotká, 1967] won the Golden Nymph award from the 1968 Monte Carlo IFF. In 1968, Barabáš emigrated first to Austria and then to Canada, where he worked at the Canadian Film Institute. From 1969, he lived and worked as a TV director and screenwriter in Germany. There, he made Der Ewige Gatte [1969], Die Erbschaft [1972], Comenius [1975], Die Friedenmacher [1984], Die Finsternis bedeckt die Erde 1 – 2 [1986] and more. For the TV crime series Tatort he made the episodes Blaßlila Briefe [1982], Spuk aus der Eiszeit [1988], Armer Nanosch [1989] and Tini [1991]. In 1990, he chaired the jury at the Bratislava Days of Czech and Slovak Cinema.


Paľo Bielik 1910 / Senica [today part of Banská Bystrica] 1983 / Bratislava




FILM DIRECTOR, SCREENWRITER, AND ACTOR. After secondary school [1925 – 29] and following his military service [1930 – 34], Paľo Bielik first started working in various occupations, including a serviceman, shop assistant and police warden. He was an amateur actor and played Jánošík in the Sons of the Hills [Hôrni chlapci] by Ľudovít Kubáni performed by an evangelical youth club. It was in this role that director Karol Plicka noticed him at the 9th National Drama Competition in 1932 and recommended Bielik to Czech film director Martin Frič for the lead role in the feature film Jánošík [1935]. Afterwards Bielik studied at the Drama Department of the State Conservatory in Bratislava [1939 – 41] and was a member of the ensemble at the Slovak National Theatre, portraying twenty different characters of national and foreign authors. In 1942 – 45, he worked as a screenwriter and director at the Nástup film company. In the 1940s, he also made films for the film weekly LÚČ – Vanishing Romance [Miznúca romantika], Sacred Beauty [Posvätná krása], Once upon a Time /The Spiš Castle/ [Bolo raz... / Spišský hrad/], Slovak Marble [Travertin – slovenský mramor], Under the Open Sky [Pod holým nebom], Artificial Fibers [Umelé vlákna], Cormoran Island [Na ostrove kormoránov]. In 1945 – 79 he worked as a director and screenwriter at the Feature Film Studio in Bratislava. Together with his Czech colleagues, Martin Frič and Karel Steklý, they wrote the screenplay of the first Slovak feature film made after WW II called Beware! [Varuj...!, 1946]. He made his directing debut in 1948 with Wolves’ Lairs [Vlčie diery], a feature film set in the times of the Slovak National Uprising in 1944. In the 1950s, during artistic schematism, Bielik made The Dam [Priehrada, 1950] and The Mountains Are Stirring [Lazy sa pohli, 1952], an anti-war drama set in WW I entitled Forty-Four Mutineers [Štyridsaťštyri, 1957], and a drama about a man who is alone in his fight against fascism, Captain Dabač [Kapitán Dabač, 1959]. In the 1960s, he made two popular historical productions: Jánošík 1 – 2 [1962 – 63] and Master Executioner [Majster kat, 1966]. His historical drama Three Witnesses [Traja svedkovia, 1968] was followed by a break in his directing activities until the late 1970s, when he wrote the stories and screenplays for the fiction films The Meeting [Stretnutie, d. Andrej Lettrich, 1975] and No [Nie, d. Ctibor Kováč, 1977].

G FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER Eduard Grečner studied Screenwriting and Dramaturgy at the FAMU Film School in Prague [1950 – 54]. He wrote book reviews for the Prague studios of the Czechoslovak Radio [1951 – 53]. From 1954, he worked as a lecturer, dramaturge, screenwriter, director assistant and director at the Feature Film Studio in Bratislava. As assistant director he worked with Štefan Uher on the making of Class “Nine A“ [My z deviatej A, 1961] and The Sun in a Net [Slnko v sieti, 1962], he continued to publish books and film reviews. As a director he debuted with Seven Days Every Week [Každý týždeň sedem dní, 1964], followed by film adaptations of works of fiction, The Nylon Moon [Nylonový mesiac, 1965] and the artistically original Dragon’s Return [Drak sa vracia, 1967]. In 1971 due to political reasons, he was replaced at the shooting of the TV film Champagne, and he was not allowed to direct any of the previously approved screenplays, including an adaptation of The Song of Songs, A Song for Jokanaan – based on the work of Oscar Wilde, and some children’s tales. With the exception of the TV film The Príbet Revolt of Janko Kráľ [Príbetská vzbura Janka Kráľa, 1978], Grečner kept working exclusively as a director in dubbing. Eventually he made two more features – Mortal Coil [Pozemský nepokoj] in 1992 and Jašek’s Dream [Jaškov sen] in 1996. In 1989, Grečner was appointed the first chair of the Slovak Film Union, and in 1994 – 96 he chaired the Film Committee of the Pro Slovakia State Culture Fund. He taught at the Faculty of Mass-Media Communication at the Sts Cyril and Methodius University in Trnava [1995 – 99] and the Department of Writing at the Drama Faculty in Banská Bystrica [1999 – 2003]. After 2000, he returned to directing Slovak dubbing for foreign TV shows.

Eduard Grečner


* 1931 / Kopčany




Dušan Hanák


* 1938 / Bratislava



FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER Dušan Hanák studied Film Directing at the FAMU Film School in Prague [1960 – 65]. From 1965, he worked at the Short Film Studio and from 1968 at the Fiction Film Studio in Bratislava. He made 20 short documentaries, including Artists, Learning, Call into Silence [Artisti, Učenie, Výzva do ticha, all 1965], Old Shatterhand Came to See Us [Prišiel k nám Old Shaterhand, 1966], Mass [Omša, 1967], A Day of Joy [Deň radosti, 1972], all of them award-winning films from Oberhausen, Montevideo, Bienale of Young Art in Paris and many other film festivals. He first started shooting features after the occupation of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, but many were banned. His feature debut, 322 [1969] won the Grand Prix at the Mannheim IFF. His feature-length documentary, Pictures of the Old World [Obrazy starého sveta, 1972] was screened with much success worldwide after full 17 years on the shelf. The film won an Academy Award nomination, Golden Sestercius from Nyon, Grand Prix from Munich, Alcan Prize from Montreal, Don Quijote Award, and an Award of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for best documentary. Similarly successful were also Hanák’s films Rosy Dreams [Ružové sny, 1976] and another of his banned films, I Love, You Love [Ja milujem, ty miluješ 1980], which won a Silver Bear for directing. In 1995, Dušan Hanák made his second feature documentary entitled Paper Heads about the relation between the citizen and power. The film brought Hanák a Golden Spire from the San Francisco International Film Festival [1997]. Retrospectives of his works were held in San Remo, La Rochelle, Châteauroux, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and a number of US cities and universities. From 1992, Hanák has been teaching at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava. In the past, he chaired the Association of Slovak Film Directors and the founding president of the Slovak Film and TV Academy [1996 – 98]. For the past few years, he has been preparing the film Intolerance / Police State. In 2004, Hanák received the state decoration Pribina’s Cross of 1st Degree ”for his extraordinary contribution to the cultural development of the Slovak Republic”. In 2006, he received an Award to the Career at the Bergamo IFF and in 2008 a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema from the Karlovy Vary IFF.


Eliáš [Elo] Havetta 1938 / Veľké Vozokany 1975 / Bratislava




FILM DIRECTOR, SCREENWRITER, CINEMATOGRAPHER AND PHOTOGRAPHER Elo Havetta studied Photography at secondary school. After military service [1957 – 59] he worked at the Culture and Recreation Park in Bratislava [1959 – 61] and led an amateur puppet theatre called The Theatre of Images. In 1961, he started studying Film Directing at the FAMU Film School in Prague. Here, he made his student films Saint Jane [Svatá Jana, 1963], 34 Days of Absolute Calm [34 dnů absolutního klidu, 1965] and Forecast: Zero [Předpověď: nula, 1966]. He did not conclude his studies officially for having failed to submit a theoretical thesis. He worked as a photographer and graphic designer for a number of journals and magazines. In 1967, he contributed to the Diapolyekran project entitled The Creation of the World, which was presented at the EXPO '67 exhibition in Montreal. Havetta was assistant director and episode actor on Ivan Balaďa’s TV film The Lady [Dáma, 1967]. Together with Lubor Dohnal they wrote the story and the screenplay for Havetta’s directing debut, Celebration in the Botanical Garden [Slávnosť v botanickej záhrade, 1969]. In 1972, Havetta adapted Slovak writer Vincent Šikula’s story and made the film Lilies of the Field [Ľalie poľné]. In the 1970s, Havetta worked partly for the Bratislava studios of the Czechoslovak Television. He made the TV film Wasted Love [Škoda lásky, 1973], he worked as a director and screenwriter of the TV programs for young people called Swallow [Lastovička, 1973 – 74] and Please Enter [Ráčte vstúpiť, 1974 – 75]. His untimely death put an end to a promising filmmaking career. In 1988, the Elo Havetta Retrospective was held in Bratislava, followed by a seminar dedicated to his work. The event included an exhibition of his drawings, photographs, illustrated letters and art work.


Juraj Herz 1934 / Kežmarok 2018 / Praha




FILM DIRECTOR, SCREENWRITER, AND ACTOR Juraj Herz as a child survived the concentration camps in Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen. After studying Photography he graduated in Directing and Puppetry from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in 1958. He started his career as a stage actor and director. Later he played in movies and from 1961, he was an assistant to directors Zbyněk Brynych, Ján Kadár, and Elmar Klos at the Czech Barrandov Film Studios. He debuted as a director with the medium-length film The Junk Yard that was meant to be part of the Czech New Wave manifest. His first full-length film was the crime movie The Sign of Cancer [Znamení Raka, 1966]. He became widely popular with his congenial film adaptation of Ladislav Fuks’s novel, The Cremator [Spalovač mrtvol, 1968]. Then he made Petroleum Lamps [Petrolejové lampy, 1971] and Morgiana [1972]. Juraj Herz tested his skills in a variety of genres, including the musical [Limping Devil/Kulhavý ďábel, 1968], sci-fi horror [The Vampire of Ferat/Upír z Feratu, 1982], black comedy [Morgiana, 1972], and gangster comedy [Bulldogs and Cherries/Buldoci a třešně, 1981]. In Slovakia, he made the comedy Sweet Troubles [Sladké starosti, 1984] and the fairy-tale movie The Galoshes of Fortune [Galoše šťastia, 1986]. From the late 1980s he lived in Germany with actress Tereza Pokorná and there he made the fairy-tale movies The Frog Prince [Froschkönig, 1990], The Emperor’s New Clothes [Des Kaisers neue Kleider, 1994], and Silly Augustine [Die Dumme Augustine, 1992]. After his creative comeback to the Czech Republic, he made an adaptation of a story by Karel Pecka, The Passage [Pasáž, 1996]. In television, he debuted with the internationally successful Sweet Amusements of Last Summer [Sladké hry minulého leta, 1969]. He made the TV series Gagman [1987], a tribute to slapstick comedy, and Black Barons [Černí baroni, 2002 – 2003], an adaptation of the legendary novel by Czech writer Miloslav Švandrlík. In 2010, Herz made Habermann [Habermannův mlýn] – a feature film dealing with one of the most controversial chapters in Czech history, the after-war expulsion of the German population from the Czech lands. In 2009, Juraj Herz was awarded a Czech Lion for his contribution to Czech cinema and in 2010, a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema from the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.


Martin Hollý 1931 / Košice 2004 / Bratislava




FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER, in 1953 – 57 Martin Hollý worked at the Short Film Studio in Bratislava as an assistant director. In 1957 he made his first documentary, On the Side Track [Na vedľajšej koľaji], awarded at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Two years later, Hollý made the documentary Action 37 [Akcia 37, 1959], which won the Grand Prix at the Krakow International Film Festival. His fiction films varied in terms of genre and theme and won many national and international awards. He debuted with Crows Fly Over [Havrania cesta, 1962], he made psychological dramas such as A Case for the Defense Attorney [Prípad pre obhajcu, 1964], The Dead Teach the Living [Mŕtvi učia živých, 1983], widely popular movies set in the hills of the Tatras – The Copper Tower [Medená veža, 1970], Eagle Feather [Orlie pierko, 1971], WW I and WW II dramas Private War [Súkromná vojna, 1977], Signum Laudis [Signum laudis, 1980], a fairy-tale movie Salt More than Gold [Soľ nad zlato. 1982], dramatic stories from the recent Slovak past Fever [Horúčka, 1975], The Sin of Katarína Padychova [Hriech Kataríny Padychovej, 1973], Who Leaves in the Rain... [Kto odchádza v daždi..., 1974], Custom-Tailored Death [Smrť šitá na mieru, 1979], Night Riders [Noční jazdci, 1981], and more. He gained international recognition with his work for television. His film The Ballad of the Seven Hanged [Balada o siedmich obesených, 1968] was awarded at the Monte Carlo International Television Festival 1969 and the World Festival of Television Works in Hollywood in 1970. His TV films belong to the best of the Slovak television production. In the 1990s, during a recession in the Slovak filmmaking industry, he was shooting in the Czech Republic – Silent Pain [Tichá bolest, 1990], A Castle in Bohemia [Zámek v Čechách, TV, 1993], The Road through Hell [Cesta peklem, 1995], and the TV series Justice under Arrest 1 – 13 [Na lavici obžalovaných justice, 1998].


Juraj Jakubisko


* 1938 / Kojšov



FILM DIRECTOR, SCREENWRITER, CINEMATOGRAPHER, PHOTOGRAPHER AND ARTIST Juraj Jakubisko studied Film Directing at the FAMU Film School in Prague [1959 – 66]. Still as a student, he was noted for his films Silence [Mlčení, 1963], Rain [Déšť, 1965] and They Are Waiting for Godot [Čekají na Godota, 1966], which were awarded in Oberhausen, Mannheim and Bergamo. He worked as a director and screenwriter at the Laterna Magika multimedia theatre in Prague [1965 – 66], he shot several advertising films for the fashion exposition at EXPO ’67 in Montreal. In 1967, Jakubisko joined the Fiction Film Studio in Bratislava. He debuted with The Prime of Life [Kristove roky, 1967], a film that won awards at home and also at the Mannheim IFF. His three following films were all shelved – Deserters and Pilgrims [Zbehovia a pútnici, 1968], Birdies, Orphans and Fools [Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni, 1969] and See You in Hell, My Friends [Dovidenia v pekle, priatelia, 1970/1990]. In the 1970s, Jakubisko was allowed to make only documentaries. In 1979, he returned to the making of fiction films with Build a House, Plant a Tree [Postav dom, zasaď strom]. In the 1980s, he worked on the three-episode TV film Infidelity in a Slovak Way [Nevera po slovensky, 1980], the international award winning film saga The Millennial Bee [Tisícročná včela, 1983], the fairy-tale movie Lady Winter [Perinbaba, 1985] and the feature I’m Sitting in a Tree and I Feel Fine [Sedím na konári a je mi dobre, 1989]. His picture It is Better to Be Rich and Healthy than Poor and Sick [Lepšie byť bohatý a zdravý ako chudobný a chorý, 1992] was his reaction to the social and political changes after the fall of the Communist regime. Since 1993, Jakubisko has been living and working in Prague. In the Czech Republic, he made the films An Ambiguous Report on the End of the World [Nejasná zpráva o konci světa, 1997] and Post Coitum [2004]. He is a member of the European Film Academy; from 2001 he has been a professor at FAMU in Prague and worked as a stage director. In July 2008, he premiered his latest project Bathory, a high-budget historical production. Juraj Jakubisko is the holder of the state decoration Pribina’s Cross of 2nd Degree. He received a Golden Camera award from the International Artfilm Festival in Slovakia for his contribution to Slovak cinema and in 2008, he was awarded a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema from the Karlovy Vary IFF.


Otakar Krivánek 1931 / Levoča 1997 / Bratislava




FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER Otakar Krivánek graduated in Stage Directing from the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava [1956] with his direction of Carlo Goldoni’s The Lovers [Gl’innamorati]. For three years he worked as an actor and film director at the Regional Theatre in Nitra [1955 – 58], then he took the position of a director of report films and documentaries at the Film Production Studio in Bratislava. As a director assistant, he contributed to the making of Dušan Kodaj’s medium-length film, Little Eve is Walking through the Town [Evička ide mestom, 1958]. He made a number of editions of the newsreel The Week in Film [Týždeň vo filme, 1958 – 60], he wrote the screenplay and directed the documentaries Light; Darkness and Silence [Svetlo; Tma a ticho, both 1960], Freundschaft – Friendship, For Us All [Freundschaft – Priateľstvo, Pre nás všetkých, both 1962], Everybody Has His Special Day [Každý má svoj sviatok, 1965], Child [Dieťa, 1967] etc. His documentaries Interview [Rozhovor, 1963], Photograph [Fotografia, 1965] and Road... [Cesta..., 1966] were awarded at home and abroad. In 1968, he worked on the documentary recording the intense period of the democratization process in Czechoslovakia entitled The Times We Live in [Čas, ktorý žijeme]. He brought his documaking experience to the realization of his feature-length film about the everyday life of one family – Our Daily Day... [Deň náš každodenný... 1969], which also helped him move on to fiction filmmaking. The biggest part of his work were films for children – Heart on a Rope [Srdce na lane, 1973], Dad Will Beat Me Anyway [Otec ma zderie tak či tak... 1980], Summer Has Come Too Early [Predčasné leto, 1982]. For the Bratislava studios of the Czechoslovak Television he made the TV films Tinker Apprentices [Džarkovia, 1973], Čenková’s Children [Čenkovej deti, 1975], A Dash of Salt 1 – 3 [Štipku soli 1 – 3, 1977], and the thirteen-episode series for children entitled The Magic Town [Kúzelné mestečko, 1982].


Viktor Kubal 1923 / Svätý Jur 1997 / Bratislava




THE FOUNDER OF SLOVAK ANIMATED CINEMA, Viktor Kubal made over 150 animated films. He was thirteen years old when he started making his first drawings on celluloid. He attended the Slovak Technical University in Bratislava. In 1942, for the Školfilm company he made the Well of Love [Studňa lásky], based on the legend about the well at the Trenčín castle, and Abduction [Únos]. In 1965, Kubal was appointed the art director of the newly opened Animated Film Studio. In addition to directing his films, Kubal also wrote the story and script and authored the visual design of his films, contributing to them also as the lead animator. In his films, he used his experiences of a caricaturist. He transferred some of his figures to film, such as the mischievous girl Dita [1967 – 70], and twelve shorts about Mr. Homa were included in the newsreel The Week in Film [Týždeň vo filme, 1964 – 66]. He was inspired by historical themes, fairy-tales and everyday life. He made caricatures and drawings for film captions, he wrote and illustrated books and he was also a cabaret performer. In 1976, he made the very first Slovak animated feature, Jurko the Brigand [Zbojník Jurko], followed by The Bloody Lady [Krvavá pani] in 1980. He also directed the medium-length animated film Marzipan Comedy [Marcipánová komédia, 1987], and many other films – White and Black [Biely a čierny, 1965], Infidelity, Earth [Nevera, Zem, both 1966], Chess [Šach, 1974], Present [Prezent, 1976], At the Movies [Kino, 1977], Ladder [Rebrík, 1978], An Only Child [Jedináčik, 1979], Microscope [Mikroskop, 1981], Selection [Selekcia, 1982], Meteorologist [Meteorológ, 1983], Verdun [Verdun, 1984]. Kubal was also the author of series of films connected by the same protagonist – four films about Jano [1969 – 71], twelve films about Johnny the Pea [Janko Hraško, 1972 – 85], seven films about Kocúrkovo [1979 – 81] and his series for the Czechoslovak TV in Bratislava – About Peter [O Petrovi, 1969 – 76], Puf and Muf [Puf a Muf, 1969 – 73], The Traffic Light Man [Panák z križovatky, 1980 – 81], Grandpa [Deduško, 1983 – 90], Valibuk [1988 – 89], The Devil and the Angel [Čert a anjel, 1990]. For his film Ladder Viktor Kubal was awarded the Bronze Dragon at the 15th Krakow International Festival of Short Films in 1978. In 1988, at the 29th Mostra IFF in Italy, Viktor Kubal received the Montecantini Terme award for his collection of films [Ladder, At the Movies, and Chess].


Miloslav Luther


1945 / Jakub [today part of Banská Bystrica]



FILM DIRECTOR Miloslav Luther started his professional career as a director assistant on the TV films Gentle Creature [dir. Stanislav Barabáš, 1967] and The Lady [dir. Ivan Balaďa, 1967] before he was assistant director on Elo Havetta’s feature, Celebration in the Botanical Garden [1969]. Later, he graduated in Film Directing from the class of the Czech screenwriter and filmmaker Otakar Vávra at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts [FAMU] in Prague. Luther worked as a film director for the Report Film studios in Bratislava and from 1975 also for the Bratislava studios of the Czechoslovak Television: he directed TV documentaries about Slovak artists, such as Libuša Mináčová [1975], Oles Hončár [1977], Mikuláš Galanda [1977], Anton Krajčovič [1977], and National Artist Emil Belluš [Národný umelec Emil Belluš, 1979]. His TV studio-staged films and fiction features made for television are some of the best of Slovak TV production. Luther preferred literary adaptations and historical dramas with universal themes – Morning under the Moon [Ráno pod mesiacom, 1979], A Triptych about Love [Triptych o láske, 1980], The Old Beekeeper [Starý včelár, 1981], Mario and the Magician [Mário a kúzelník, 1976], Dangerous Liaisons [Nebezpečné známosti, 1980], Life without an End [Život bez konca, 1982], The Doctor of Dying Time [Lekár umierajúceho času, 1983], Confession [Spoveď, 1995]. King Blackbird [Kráľ drozdia brada] from 1984 was his feature debut and brought him a Prize of the International Jury in the Competition of First Films from the Karlovy Vary IFF 1984. In coproduction with Germany, Luther made the films Forget about Mozart [Zabudnite na Mozarta, 1985] about the life of the great composer, and the fairy-tale Mahuliena the Golden Maiden [Mahuliena, zlatá panna, 1986]. In the late 1980s, he finished one of the best Slovak films of the decade, A Path across the Danube [Chodník cez Dunaj, 1989], which won the Monaco Red Cross Prize from the Monte Carlo ITF 1990. His Angel of Mercy [Anjel milosrdenstva, 1993] won the Berlin 1994 Prix Europe for best European TV program of the year. In 2002, he adapted for the screen the renowned Czech writer Vladislav Vančura’s novel Escape to Budapest [Útek do Budína]. In 2009, he and his brother, cinematographer Igor Luther, made the feature Mosquitoes’ Tango [Tango s komármi]. Luther also taught at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Drama and Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava.


Stanislav Párnický


1945 / Piešťany



FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER Stanislav Párnický graduated in Stage Directing from the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava. As a student, he directed plays winning awards at international festivals – his staging of King Ubu [Kráľ Ubu] was successful at a festival in Nancy in France and was broadcasted on the French Television. In 1968-74, he directed plays at the Theatre of Slovak National Uprising in Martin. In the 1970s, he launched his collaboration with the Czechoslovak Television in Bratislava while continuing as a stage director. At the TV studios, he started directing television productions and his five-episode series called Lost and Found [Straty a nálezy, 1975] became very popular. In the early 1980s, he was already one of the major figures of Slovak television film directing: in 1980 – 85, he made six TV movies: The Trap [Pasca], Diving Record [Hĺbkový rekord], On Men, Women, and Children [O mužoch, ženách a deťoch], The Whole World above My Head [Celý svet nad hlavou], A Hired Clown [Najatý klaun] and Sugar [Cukor]. The year 1985 marked his debut in feature films for cinemas, The Cart Full of Pain [Kára plná bolesti]. In 1987, he made The Southern Mail [Južná pošta], based on the novel by Ladislav Ballek. In 1990, he made an adaptation of the story of the Sleeping Beauty by the Grimm brothers [Sleeping Beauty/Šípová Ruženka]. Based on the story and script of actress Milka Zimková he made Crying for the Moon [...kone na betóne, 1995], a sequel to the popular film made by Štefan Uher, She Kept Crying for the Moon [Pásla kone na betóne, 1982]. Later he worked only for television. He made three portrait documentaries for the series Dozen [Tucet], and the sit-com The Teachers’ Room [Zborovňa, 1999]. Since 1977, he has been a lecturer at the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU]. In 1996-99, he was the Head of the Department of Film and Television Directing and in 1999 - 2006 he was dean of the Film and Television Faculty of VŠMU in Bratislava.


Karol Plicka 1894 / Vienna 1987 / Prague




CZECH ETHNOGRAPHER, MUSICOLOGIST, PHOTOGRAPHER, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER, AND PEDAGOGUE. As a researcher of the Ethnographic Department of the Matica slovenská national linguistic and cultural institute, Karol Plicka made numerous field trips collecting Slovak folklore material [1924 – 38]. He set up an archive of documentary photographs and made his first two documentary films – Following the Slovak People [Za slovenským ľudom, 1928] and Over the Hills, Over the Valleys [Po horách, po dolách; 1929]. With the collaboration of film editor Alexander Hackenschmied and the Lloydfilm company based in the Czech city of Brno, he made The Land Sings [Zem spieva] in 1933. Combining music, songs, and dances, this movie shows man as part of nature and reflects man’s connection with the land, the customs, and folklore traditions. The movie earned significant international recognition. In 1935, Karol Plicka was an expert advisor at the making of director Martin Frič’s fiction feature film about the legendary Slovak hero, Jánošík. Plicka concluded his work for the Matica slovenská institute by two report films – Following the Slovaks from New York to Mississippi [Za Slovákmi od New Yorku po Mississippi] and The Visit of President Dr. Eduard Beneš [Prezident republiky dr. E. Beneš u nás, both made in 1937]. During WW II, Plicka worked at the State Photometric Institute in Prague, he made photographic documentation about Prague, and two films – Eternal Song [Věčná píseň, 1941] and Baroque Prague [Barokní Praha, 1943]. In 1945, upon his return to Bratislava, he chaired the Slofis company and contributed to the development of Slovak national film production. He taught film directing and photography. In 1937, he founded the one-year course of kinetic photography and filmmaking at the School of Applied Arts in Bratislava. In 1946, he was the first Dean of the FAMU Film School in Prague. After 1949, he focused on photography and folklore research. His work was presented at many international events.


Dimitrij Plichta 1922 / České Budějovice 1987 / Dolná Sytová




DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER. Dimitrij Plichta studied Aesthetics after the war at the Faculty of Arts of the Charles University in Prague. For five years, he worked as a director and screenwriter at the Ostrava studio of the Czechoslovak Radio. In 1949-70, he was a director of educational and didactic films at the Short Film Studio in Bratislava, where he made Puppet Theater [Bábkové divadlo,1953], Touring Camp [Putovný tábor, 1954], Children’s Complaints [Deti žalujú, 1956], Wine [Víno, 1957], We Start from the End [Začíname od konca, 1960], Medieval Murals [Stredoveké nástenné maľby, 1961], Three Times Why no. 12? [Trikrát prečo č. 12?, 1963] and many more. His film Upre Roma [1955] for the first time depicted the poor social conditions of the Roma minority. In 1959, he made his debut in fiction filmmaking with a short story warning children against disrespecting the elderly – Our School Handy Man [Náš školník]. In his following fiction films he focused mostly on issues of adolescence and the emotional issues of young people - Ivan [1960], Let the One Who is Without Sin... [Kto si bez viny..., 1963], The Sheriff behind Bars [Šerif za mrežami, 1965], The Little Wheel [Koliesko, 1966], Caesar and the Detectives [Cézar a detektívy, 1967] and Unkind Love [Láska neláskavá, 1969]. In the mid-1960s, together with his friends he built two yachts – Horizon and Albatros. At the end of 1967 and beginning of 1968 they sailed for 10 months, crossing several seas and oceans on their voyage following the tracks of Alain Bombard. In 1968, he made the documentary The Shipwreck is Due Tomorrow [Stroskotáme zajtra] depicting this journey. In the 1970s, he joined the Film Studio Gottwaldov in the Czech Republic. In 1976, as the author of the story and co-writer of the screenplay, he collaborated on the making of the film I Wouldn’t Leave Theresa for Any Other Girl [Terezu bych kvůli žádné holce neopustil], directed by Josef Pinkava. At the Short Film Prague studios he made the travel documentaries about Crete – The Past Begins Tomorrow [Minulost začíná zítra] and Mínós and the Others [Mínós a ti druzí, both 1981]. He also wrote radio plays and children’s books The Boy and the Sea [Chlapec a moře] and The Girl and the Butterfly [Dívka a motýl].

S FILM DIRECTOR Jaroslav Siakeľ came from a family of a peasant who was a local choir and theatre enthusiast. In 1912, when he was sixteen, Siakeľ moved to the USA to join his brother Daniel who was a cinematographer, inventor, and constructor of filming devices. He started to work with Daniel at the Selig Polyscope Corporation film company. Siakeľ held various jobs in the photo studio [developing film, editing, screening negatives] before he eventually became a cinematographer. In 1917 – 18, as a member of the US Army, he took a fourmonth course of aerial photography at the Cornell University in Ithaka. After the war, he made short documentaries and fiction films for the Rothacker Film Mfg Corporation, later for Essenay and the Victor Anymatograph Co. Together with his brother Daniel, they co-founded the joint-venture Tatra Film Corporation, which financed the shooting of the first Slovak feature film, Jánošík [1921]. After making the film, the company was dissolved. Jaroslav Siakeľ did not return to fiction filmmaking. From 1934, he was the owner of a company producing slides and an independent entrepreneur. In 1981, he visited Slovakia for a presentation of the restored version of Jánošík, marking the film’s 60th anniversary.

Jaroslav Siakeľ [aka Ludvik Jerry Siakel] 1896 / Blatnica 1997 / Western Springs, Illinois





Peter Solan 1929 / Banská Bystrica 2013 / Bratislava




FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER Peter Solan graduated in Film Directing from the FAMU Film School in Prague [1949 – 55]. He launched his career at the Documentary Film Studio in Bratislava. There, he made the films Fraňo Kráľ [1954], Children of Peace [Deti mieru] and Open Track [Trať voľná, both 1955]. From 1956, he worked at the Feature Film Studio. With František Žáček, he made his first full-length fiction film The Devil Never Sleeps [Čert nespí, 1956], an adaptation of satirical stories written by Slovak author Peter Karvaš. In 1959, he made the very first Slovak crime film - The Man Who Never Returned [Muž, ktorý sa nevrátil]. In 1963, he won international recognition and a Carl Foreman Special Award from the San Francisco International Film Festival with The Boxer and Death [Boxer a smrť, 1962], a drama set in a WW II concentration camp. Solan worked with two favorite screenwriters: author and playwright Peter Karvaš – The Barnabáš Kos Case [Prípad Barnabáš Kos, 1964], The Master Did Not Ask for Anything [Pán si neželal nič, 1970], Seven Witnesses [Sedem svedkov, TV, 1967], Opinion Poll [Malá anketa, TV, 1968] and screenwriter Tibor Vichta - A Face in the Window [Tvár v okne, 1963], Before Tonight is Over [Kým sa skončí táto noc, 1965, Special Mention from the 19th Locarno International Film Festival], Episode Two - 40 in the film Dialogue 20 40 60 [Dialóg 20 40 60, 1968], The Famous Dog [Slávny pes, TV, 1971], Anticipation [Tušenie, 1982]. In the 1970s, Solan had to transfer to the Short Film Studio, where he made the award-winning documentaries Nemecká [1974], A Letter of the Field Post, Architect Dušan Kuzma [Len lístok poľnej pošty, Architekt Dušan Kuzma, both 1977], and A Balcony of Wet Nappies [Balkón plný plienok, 1978]. He returned to feature filmmaking in 1979, and made And I’ll Run to the Ends of the Earth [A pobežím až na kraj sveta, 1979], Anticipation [Tušenie, 1982], About Fame and Grass [O sláve a tráve, 1984]. In 1990 – 94 and 1998 – 2001 he chaired the Commission for Cinema and Video at the Pro Slovakia State Fund of Culture. In 1994, he received an Igric award for lifetime achievement.


Martin Šulík


1962 / Žilina



FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER, one of the leading Slovak filmmakers. Martin Šulík was an amateur actor before studying Film and Television Directing at the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava [1981 – 86]. He graduated with the internationally awarded film Staccato [1986]. In 1986, Šulík started making documentaries – Silence [Ticho, 1988], Hooray [Hurá, 1989], Ethics and Politics [Etika a politika, 1990], Nikita Mikhalkov’s Monologue [Monológ Nikitu Michalkova, TV, 1990], Pictures from Private Life [Obrázky zo súkromia, TV, 1996]. In 1991, he made his first fiction feature film Tenderness [Neha]. On most of his films, Martin Šulík worked with screenwriter Ondrej Šulaj, cinematographer Martin Štrba, composer Vladimír Godár, and art director František Lipták. His films won several national and international awards – Everything I Love [Všetko čo mám rád, 1992], The Garden [Záhrada, 1995], Orbis Pictus [1997]. With author and screenwriter Dušan Dušek, Šulík made the film Landscape [Krajinka, 2000] and with screenwriter Marek Leščák the Czecho-Slovak co-production film The City of the Sun [Slnečný štát, 2005]. Šulík also made documentary portraits of Slovak director Juraj Jakubisko – The Monologue of Juraj J. [Monológ Juraja J., 2001] and The Unmade Films of Juraj J. [nenakrútené filmy Juraja J., 2001], and the music video to Slovak singer Richard Müller’s song River [Rieka, 2002]. His documentary portrait of Czech filmmaker Pavel Juráček - The Key for Determining Dwarfs or The Last Travel of Lemuel Gulliver [Klíč k určování trpaslíků aneb Poslední cesta Lemuela Gullivera, 2002] won the major Czech film awards Trilobit and Kristián. In 2007, Šulík made the feature documentary Martin Slivka – “The Man Who Planted Trees” [Martin Slivka – „Muž, ktorý sadil stromy”] and in 2003 – 2010 he directed 26 profiles of the filmmakers of the Czechoslovak New Wave entitled The Glorious Sixties [Zlatá šedesátá], followed by a two-part feature documentary 25 from the Sixties, or The Czechoslovak New Wave [25 zo šesťdesiatych alebo československá nová vlna]. Martin Šulík is also a stage director and artist, and he is the owner of the Titanic, Ltd. movie company [1995]. Since 1994, he has been teaching at and since 1999 heading the Department of Directing at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava. His latest feature Gypsy [Cigán, 2011] won the Special Jury Prize and the Don Quijote Prize of the FICC from the Karlovy Vary IFF.


Dušan Trančík


* 1946 / Bratislava



FILM DIRECTOR, SCREENWRITER AND FILM EDITOR Dušan Trančík studied Film Editing at the FAMU Film School in Prague and debuted with the film Photographing the House Dwellers [Fotografovanie obyvateľov domu, 1968] and the medium-length film The Gallows [Šibenica, 1969]. He graduated in 1970 and continued making documentaries and short films. In 1976, he debuted in fiction feature filmmaking with Concert for the Survivors [Koncert pre pozostalých]. From his very beginnings, Trančík has displayed an interest in ethical and moral issues, which he addresses in his films against a background of a conflict of two dominant characters. This motive, which in the context of Slovak cinema represents a version of the Polish cinema of moral concern, is developed the best in The Winner [Víťaz, 1978], Pavilion of Predators [Pavilón šeliem, 1982], and Another Love [Iná láska, 1985]. In the late 1980s, Trančík was making genre films, such as the crime film Great Weekend [Víkend za milión, 1987] and fairy-tale movies [Mikola and Mikolko/Mikola a Mikolko, Seven by One Blow/Sedem jednou ranou, 1988]. In 1990, he made his latest feature for cinemas entitled When the Stars Were Red [Keď hviezdy boli červené], a reflection of life in the Communist regime. Since the early 1990s, he has been working for the FEBIO and Film Factory production studios – his portraits of various public personalities, travelogues, and other documentary genres have been broadcasted on Czech Television, on Slovak TV stations [Slovak Television, Markíza Television], and in Austria [ORF 2]. Dušan Trančík is also an occasional actor. He appeared in supporting roles in such pictures as The Joke [Žert, dir. Jaromil Jireš, 1968], Curator of the Open-Air Museum [Správca kanzenu, dir. Štefan Uher, 1988], and The Garden [Záhrada, dir. Martin Šulík, 1995]. In the past, Trančík chaired the Slovak Film Union [1994 – 98] and the Association of Slovak Film Directors [1993 – 97], and was the director of the 37th Zlín International Film Festival for Children and Youth. He is a member of the European Film Academy. He was on the faculty of the Zlín Film School in 1994 – 98 and chaired the Department of Directing at the FAMU Film School in Prague in 2002 – 2004. Since 1999, he has been teaching at the Department of Film Directing at the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava. In 2006, he made a TV film entitled The Winter of Magicians [Zima kúzelníkov].


Štefan Uher 1930 / Prievidza 1993 / Bratislava




FILM DIRECTOR AND SCREENWRITER Štefan Uher studied Film Directing at the FAMU Film School in Prague [1949 – 55]. He graduated with the film A Journey above the Clouds [Cesta nad oblaky, 1955]. From 1955, he worked as a director at the Studio of Artistic Documentary Films in Bratislava. In 1960, he joined the Fiction Film Studio and made his directing debut Class “Nine A“ [My z deviatej A] in 1961. Until 1963, Uher was writing documentary screenplays - Without an End [Bez konca, dir. Miroslav Horňák, 1960], Our World Repented [Kajal náš svet, dir. Štefan Kamenický, 1960], The Mosaic under Dukla [Poddukelská mozaika, dir. Vlado Kubenko, 1960], Interview [Rozhovor, dir. Otakar Krivánek, 1963]. In 1963, he was appointed chairman of the Slovak section of the Union of Czechoslovak Film and Television Artists [FITES] and in 1969, he was once again elected chairman of the national film union SloFITEZ. At the Fiction Film Studio, Uher started working with author and screenwriter Alfonz Bednár and cinematographer Stanislav Szomolányi. Together they made The Sun in a Net [Slnko v sieti, 1962], The Organ [Organ, 1964], Three Daughters [Tri dcéry, 1967], Genius [Génius, 1969], Javor and Juliana [Javor a Juliana, 1972], Great Night and Great Day [Veľká noc a veľký deň, 1974], Penelope [Penelopa, 1977], Friends [Kamarátky, 1979], My Black Horses 1 – 4 [Moje kone vrané, TV, 1980]. Štefan Uher also worked with authors Dominik Tatarka – The Wonder-Maid [Panna zázračnica, 1966] and Milan Ferko – If I Had a Gun [Keby som mal pušku, 1971] and If I Had a Girl [Keby som mal dievča, 1976]. He made a very popular movie based on actress Milka Zimková’s screenplay – She Kept Crying for the Moon [Pásla kone na betóne, 1982] and together with screenwriter Ondrej Šulaj he wrote the story and the screenplay for his last fiction film, The Curator of the Open-Air Museum [Správca skanzenu, 1988]. His films received a number of national and international awards. From 1983, he was a professor at the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava, after 1990 he contributed to the opening of the Film and Television Faculty and headed the Film and TV Directing Department. He was the first chairman of the Academic Senate of the faculty and a member of the Art Board of the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU]. In 1993, he received an Igric award in memoriam for his significant creative contribution to Slovak cinema.


Zoroslav [Zoro] Záhon


1943 / Piešťany



FILM DIRECTOR AND ACTOR Zoroslav “Zoro” Záhon graduated in Acting from the Academy of Performing Arts [VŠMU] in Bratislava in 1964. For a short time, he worked in theater and in 1967, he moved on to the Bratislava studio of the Czechoslovak Television as director assistant. One year later, he became an assistant director at the Czechoslovak Fiction Film studios. He worked on television and feature film projects with such directors as Tibor Rakovský, Andrej Lettrich, Ivan Teren, Dušan Hanák, and mainly with Martin Hollý – Záhon assisted him at the making of The Ballad of the Seven Hanged [Balada o siedmich obesených, 1968], The Copper Tower [Medená veža, 1970], Who Leaves in the Rain... [Kto odchádza v daždi..., 1974], and Custom-Tailored Death [Smrť šitá na mieru, 1979]. Zoro Záhon made his directing debut with the television film Price of Life [Cena života, 1973] and with the feature Tattooed by Time [Tetované časom, 1975]. In the 1970s, he added to his filmography a historical drama set in the period of the Slovak National Uprising, A Poem of Conscience [Poéma o svedomí, 1978], a film which Záhon took over after the death of director Vladimír Bahna. This was followed by the most successful film of his career, The Assistant [Pomocník], an adaptation of the same-titled novel by Ladislav Ballek, in 1981. Záhon’s Action Edelstein [Akcia Edelstein] from 1986 was a crime film, followed by a lyrical story, The Beginning of the Season [Začiatok sezóny, 1987]. He directed the Slovak version of the co-production films The Death of Mr. Goluža [Smrť pána Golužu, 1982, dir. Živko Nikolić] and Leo Tolstoy [Lev Tolstoj, 1984, dir. Sergei Gerasimov]. In the 1980s, Záhon alternated creative and managing positions. He was Director of the Fiction Film Studio [1980 – 81], later Deputy General Manager of the Slovak Film Studio [1982 – 85]. In 1994, he worked for the Hungarian Duna television station and in 1996, he was editor-in-chief at the VTV Slovak television company. There he also worked as a director and screenwriter and made several portrait films about well-known actors. In 1998 – 2000 he was executive director, editor, and director at the local TV station TV Sever Žilina.

INDEX [ENGLISH TITLES] 322 A Path across the Danube Another Love Assistant, The Before Tonight is Over Bells Toll for the Barefooted, The Birdies, Orphans and Fools Bloody Lady Boxer and Death, The Captain Dabač Celebration in the Botanical Garden Dragon’s Return Forty-Four Mutineers I Love, You Love I’m Sitting in a Tree and I Feel Fine (aka Sitting on a Branch I Am Fine) Jánošík Jurko the Brigand (aka Brigand Jurko) Land Sings, The (aka The Earth Sings) Lilies of the Field (aka Wild Lilies) Millennial Bee, The Night Riders Organ, The Our Daily Day... Pictures of the Old World Prime of Life, The (aka Crucial Years) Rosy Dreams (aka Pink Dreams) Sheriff behind Bars, The Signum Laudis Song of the Grey Pigeon, The Southern Mail, The Sun in a Net, The Sweet Troubles Tenderness Three Daughters Winner, The

INDEX [ORIGINAL TITLES] 71 143 135 123 47 51 75 107 35 27 79 59 23 111 147 15 95 19 87 127 119 43 83 91 63 99 55 115 31 139 39 131 151 67 103



322 Boxer a smrť Deň náš každodenný... Drak sa vracia Chodník cez Dunaj Iná láska Ja milujem, ty miluješ Jánošík Južná pošta Kapitán Dabač Kristove roky Krvavá pani Kým sa skončí táto noc Ľalie poľné Neha Noční jazdci Obrazy starého sveta Organ Pieseň o sivom holubovi Pomocník Ružové sny Sedím na konári a je mi dobre Signum laudis Sladké starosti Slávnosť v botanickej záhrade Slnko v sieti Šerif za mrežami Štyridsaťštyri Tisícročná včela Tri dcéry Víťaz Vtáčkovia, siroty a blázni Zbojník Jurko Zem spieva Zvony pre bosých

71 35 83 59 143 135 111 15 139 27 63 107 47 87 151 119 91 43 31 123 99 147 115 131 79 39 55 23 127 67 103 75 95 19 51

PHOTO CREDITS Jánošík The Land Sings Forty-Four Mutineers Captain Dabač The Song of the Grey Pigeon The Boxer and Death The Sun in a Net The Organ Before Tonight is Over The Bells Toll for the Barefooted The Sheriff behind Bars Dragon’s Return The Prime of Life Three Daughters 322 Birdies, Orphans and Fools Celebration in the Botanical Garden Our Daily Day... Lilies of the Field Pictures of the Old World Jurko the Brigand Rosy Dreams The Winner Bloody Lady I Love, You Love Signum Laudis Night Riders The Assistant

unidentified author unidentified author Milan Kordoš, Zuzana Mináčová Milan Kordoš Milan Kordoš Anton Podstraský Margita Skoumalová, Zuzana Mináčová Milan Kordoš Margita Skoumalová Milan Kordoš, Anton Podstraský Anton Podstraský Anton Podstraský, M. Švehlík Vladimír Vavrek Fridrich Urban, Zuzana Mináčová, M. Havránková Margita Polónyová Vladimír Vavrek Vladimír Vavrek unidentified author Anton Podstraský Vladimír Vavrek unidentified author Miroslav Polák Vladimír Vavrek Otto Geyer Vladimír Vavrek Václav Polák, p. 114 courtesy of the National Film Archive in Prague Václav Polák Elena Považanová



The Millennial Bee Sweet Troubles Another Love The Southern Mail A Path across the Danube I’m Sitting in a Tree and I Feel Fine Tenderness

Václav Polák Václav Polák Václav Polák Milan Kordoš Dušan Dukát Václav Polák Dušan Dukát

Stanislav Barabáš Paľo Bielik Eduard Grečner Dušan Hanák Eliáš [Elo] Havetta Juraj Herz Martin Hollý Juraj Jakubisko Otakar Krivánek Viktor Kubal Miloslav Luther Stanislav Párnický Karol Plicka Dimitrij Plichta Jaroslav Siakeľ [aka Ludvik Jerry Siakel] Peter Solan Martin Šulík Dušan Trančík Štefan Uher Zoroslav [Zoro] Záhon

Miloslav Mirvald, Karol Skoumal Milan Kordoš Zuzana Mináčová Pavel Kostl Vladimír Vavrek Jiří Králik Elena Považanová Václav Polák Margita Skoumalová unidentified author unidentified author Miro Nôta Ľubomír Vladár Milan Kordoš unidentified author Elena Hronská Vladimír Vavrek Ctibor Bachratý Margita Skoumalová, Zuzana Mináčová Miro Nôta

PETER HAMES is Visiting Professor of Film Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Creative Technology at Staffordshire University, United Kingdom and a programme advisor to the London Film Festival. He originally studied International Relations and took his PhD in Film Studies at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London. His books include The Czechoslovak New Wave [second edition, Wallflower Press, 2005, Czech translation, 2008, Polish translation, 2011] and Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition [Edinburgh University Press, 2010], and as editor, The Cinema of Central Europe [Wallflower Press, 2004] and The Cinema of Jan Švankmajer: Dark Alchemy [Wallflower Press, 2008]. He contributed to Marketa Lazarová: Studie a dokumenty, edited by Petr Gajdošík [Casablanca Publishers, Prague, 2009] and recently co-edited Cinemas in Transition in Central and Eastern Europe after 1989 [with Catherine Portuges, Temple University Press, 2013]. His articles have appeared in Sight and Sound, Vertigo, Studies in Eastern European Cinema, KinoKultura and Kinoeye. He was a cinema and film society programmer for many years and has served on juries at Karlovy Vary, Bratislava, Trenčianske Teplice, Plzeň, Sochi, and Ivanovo.

Film entries written by: Peter Hames Published by the Slovak Film Institute © 2013, 2018 Grösslingová 32, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovak Republic Phone: +421 2 5710 1513, Fax: +421 2 5296 3461 E-mail:, Editorial director: Peter Dubecký, General Manager of the Slovak Film Institute Executive editor: Marián Brázda Expert contributors: Renáta Šmatláková, Miroslav Ulman English translations and proofreading: Zuzana Dudášová Design: Marek Kianička Print: Dolis, s. r. o. This book was published with financial support from the Slovak Ministry of Culture and the Slovak Audiovisual Producers’ Association.



Second edition Published in 750 copies 204 pages ISBN 978–80–85187–62–5

ForSlovakFilmsOnDVDvisit | www.malavidaďŹ |

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