Culture & Society News Slovakia

Young Slovak filmmaker among Cannes Festival list of most promising directors

Bratislava, Slovakia – Slovak director Michal Blaško has been selected by the renowned Cannes Film Festival as one of the most promising filmmakers of 2019, Film New Europe reported earlier this week.

Since its inception in 2005, the Cinefondation’s Atelier in Cannes annually selects projects from 15 directors from all over the world, comprising both new and well-known filmmakers,  to be invited at the prestigious movie festival that takes place in France’s southern city of Cannes in May.

The 15 nominees will be able, from May 16 to 23, to meet potential partners and investors interested in their projects. They will also be given access, together with their producers, to international co-productions in order to accelerate their film’s completion and kick-start their career on the global stage. Since 2005, the Atelier in Cannes strives to “stimulate creative filmmaking and encourage the emergence of a new generation of filmmakers”. Out of the 198 projects selected, nearly 160 have already been released in movie theatres and 27 are currently at the pre-production stage.

For its 15th edition, the Cinefondation’s Atelier has selected, among others, Slovak director Michal Blaško for his movie Victim as one of the most promising up-and-coming filmmakers. The other nominees of the 2019 edition include directors from Chile, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Israel, Lesotho, Myanmar, Nepal, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Serbia, Spain, Syria and Turkey.

Due to shoot in mid-October later this year, Victim is Michal Blaško’s feature film debut and tells the story of Irina, a Ukrainian immigrant living in a small town near the Czech-Slovak border whose son claims he was assaulted by members of the Roma community; a multi-layered story mixing the intimate relationship between a son and his mother with a strong social component which addresses the complex rapport between Czech citizens, the Roma minority and foreign-born immigrants.

Born in 1989 in Bratislava, Michal Blaško studied at the Academy of Performing Arts (VŠMU) in Slovakia’s capital city. During his studies, he directed several short films, including The Truck and Fear, that premiered at the San Sebastian International Film Festival and won several prizes in other competitions, including the Best Short Film Award at Vilnius International Film Festival.

His bachelor project Atlantis, 2003, premiered at the Cinéfondation competition of the 70th Cannes Film Festival. He’s also the co-director and writer of the short animated film Wild Beasts, which was presented during the 67th edition of the Berlin International Film Festival.

“It is such an honor to be selected alongside such great filmmakers”, Michal Blaško told us, aware of the incredible opportunity and platform the Cannes Festival can offer to his upcoming film and in boosting his career.

Even besides him feature film debut, the young Slovak filmmaker has a busy year ahead: “Before Victim, I will be shooting a historical TV series in Ukraine called Slavs (Slovania), alongside another Slovak director, Peter Bebjak. We’re also co-working on a Slovak TV crime series called Behind the Glass (Za Sklom)” he explained. “There will also be two other TV projects for Czech Television, and I’m in the middle of writing a new feature film, that hopefully will be ready for production next year”.

As one of the foremost representatives of the new generation of filmmakers in Slovakia, we asked him how he perceived the current state and future of Slovak cinema. “The Slovak film industry is growing really strong and produces every year high-quality films, both for a festival or more mainstream audience”, he argued. After several tough years following the split of Czechoslovakia, during which the Slovak film industry lacked both money, background and infrastructure, “it’s definitely getting better, even if Slovak cinema is still not that popular among Slovak moviegoers because it often critically addresses strong and controversial social issues”. But it’s slowly changing, and “people are getting more and more excited. And this is really exciting news for all filmmakers!”.

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