Film Festivals

by Kristína Aschenbrennerová

International festivals, festivals of national cinematographies or festivals focused thematically or aimed at various interest and professional groups, so it is possible to describe the network of film festivals and shows in Slovakia. They bring films that are not currently presented by cinemadistribution but also those, on which we will have to wait, as the case may be, they remind the films presented in past periods. The films, which entertain, open the questions and discussions; they cultivate, promote, educate and provide a space for exchange of opinions about film art as well as about diverse social themes.

The  Art Film Fest Košice International Film Festival   is the oldest continually acting international film festival without thematic focusing in Slovakia, up to 2014 its name was Art Film Fest Trenčianske Teplice, Trenčín. The Art Film Fest originated in Trenčianske Teplice like a festival of documentary film on art in 1993. It enlarged its programme by feature films on the art and artists in 1995 and for the first time it awarded Franco Nero Italian actor the Hercova misia (Actor´s mission) award granted till now.  Two years later the festival was broadened from Trenčianske Teplice also into Trenčín and for the first time it put into its programme a competition of feature full-length films and further it was developed into the contemporary form of “traditional” film festival. The International competition of feature films and the International competition of short films with Blue angel award are the central sections of the Art Film Fest. The festival kept itself tradition of awarding the Actor´s mission for extraordinary contribution to the actor´s art and the Golden camera granted from 2001 to domestic also foreign film professionals for their distinctive contribution to the cinematography. On the occasion of their awarding the festival guested, for example Alan Parker, Omar Sharif, Ben Kingsley, Geraldine Chapline, Claudia Cardinale, Jiří Bartoška. The festival programme includes a peculiar choice of films presented at the Berlin, Cannes and Venice Festivals or from the topical production of East and Southeast Asia. The concerts, live radio records, discussions also master classes are part of the festival.

The Bratislava International Film Festival (MFF Bratislava) tied up by its origin in 1999 after short pause the tradition of, at that time already, ceased Forum International Film festival. After the first years, when it took place in more Bratislava cinemas including the multiplex in Polus, the Aupark multiplex became the centre of festival since 2003 and subsequently from the 13 rd year the festival is held in cinemas and premises in broader centre of the capital (Film and Television Faculty of VŠMU, Klap cinema, Lumiére cinema, Mladosť (Youth) cinema, Nostalgia cinema and so on). The MFF Bratislava is shaped like a festival of young film with an aim to discover new film talents, especially through a threesome of competitive sections: Competition of feature films, Competition of documentary films (the first and second films) and Competition of short films in which it presents the films without regard to their provenance. Besides the main jury and the FIPRESCI jury also the student´s jury grants own award in the Competition of feature films.

The  Cinematik International Film Festival  (in Piešťany) took place for the first time in 2006. Its programme is focused particularly on the European cinematography with regular retrospections dedicated to the national cinematographies (Portugal, Belgium and other) or in Slovakia to less known creators, to the creators who became more famous only later (Nicolas Windig Refn) or to the less known films of the well-known creators (Alain Resnais). The Slovakia was visited thanks to the invitation of festival by György Pálfy, Ben Whitley, Jaime Rosales, Veiko Õunpuu, Ventura Pons or Luis Miñarro. The film choice for the “Meeting Point Europe” main competitive section is entrusted by the festival to the 15 film critics from 15 countries of Europe. The Cinematik dedicates a peculiar competition to the Slovak full-length documentary films (Cinematik.doc). The festival organizes separate projections for children or a thematically tuned midnight section. A seminar dedicated to the development and coproduction especially of documentary films in Europe is part of the festival. The Cinematik is member of prestigious world network of festivals and distributors with the title of “Eye on Films”.      

Bridge of Fame, Trenčianske Teplice (source by,
Bridge of Fame, Trenčianske Teplice (source by,

After leaving of Art Film Fest from Trenčianske Teplice city the Trenčianske Teplice Film Festival came into being in the town which was transformed into Park Film Fest International Film Festival Trenčianske Teplice with an intent to follow up with the festival tradition of Trenčianske Teplice in 2017. This festival is orientated at the author´s film and untraditional formats. It concentrates its programme into sections dedicated to the woman directors and to student´s films (the Competitions with titles of “Her view” and “Big hopes”) and also to the regional Catalan and Brazilian cinematographies in 2017.

Further festival Febiofest International Festival of Film Clubs (the title MFFK is valid since 2016) has gone through a transformation, this time with a focusing on the club film, television film and video since the nineties of 20th century. With the central section (-with the competition of short films of the Central Europe countries and of one guest country out of this region-) the festival offers a program composed of choices of the world club film, respectively author´s film of Slovak topical production for cinemas, television, the Internet or gallery and finally the feature, documentary and news films also instructional archive films or a particular section of the “Film cabinet to children”. It composes a choice of distribution advance showings/previews especially from the portfolio of the Association of Slovak Film Clubs and a choice of films being programmed exclusively for the festival. Since 2016 also the Industry Days are part of MFFK Febiofest with the panel discussions and master classes selected thematically as well as with pitching forum for the film projects in diverse stage of production with a condition of an at least minority Slovak coproduction. The Febiofest MFFK takes place in more town of Slovakia, usually in Bratislava, Banská Bystrica, Kežmarok, Košice, Levice, Martin, Trenčín, Trnava, Poprad and in Prievidza.

The non-competitive shows of “Week of Slovak Film” (Bratislava) and “Slovak Film Harvest” (Prievidza) are dedicated exclusively to the Slovak film. The Week of Slovak Film (Bratislava) presents and recapitulates the domestic creation of previous year and simultaneously it creates a unique space for dialog among audience, film creators and theoreticians. The accompanying programme of the festival includes the master classes of domestic creators and publicly accessible discussions dedicated to the reflection of last year´s Slovak film creation and to film criticism. Within the “Echoes of Week of Slovak Film” the script editors also of out-of-Bratislava film clubs and cinemas have a possibility to draw up own choice from the event programme. Also the handing-over of the “Slnko v sieti/Sun in net” national film award granted by the Slovak Film and Television Academy (SFTA) is part of the festival. The Slovak Film Harvest (Prievidza) presents nevertheless new but also older even archive home films.  

Also the 4 elements, Star nights (Bytča), Prešov “Feelings” Film Festival or Pezinok Amateur Film Festival (PAFF) form, for example, the film superstructure of cultural space of Slovak towns by means of film reviews. The L4 elements Summer Film Festival (Banská Štiavnica) offers also a plenty of accompanying events focused on informal education in addition to the thematically built-up programme of feature films, documentary, animated and experimental full-length films also short films. The guests of rows of the film makers and film theoreticians prepare the master classy, commented projections and presentations. The seminar became also a platform for projects of audiovisual and plastic arts, a place of concerts and evening parties. A program for children, the children´s 4 elements which offer besides projections of children´s films also the workshops and creative work rooms are part of the elements Summer Film Seminar. In 2012 a winter edition was added up to the summer edition of seminar that chooses from year-long theme one  important subtheme to which it dedicates a closer programme of the 4 elements Winter Film seminar. The “Hviezdne noci /Star nights” (Bytča) Town multigenre festival puts for aim to liven up the public space of Bytča by projections of films, by summer cinema, concerts, creative workrooms, discussion forums also by video mapping show. In a non-competitive film show it primarily focuses on the film history and on the opening to the public of unknown fields of artistic cinematography with an effort in enlivenment of forgotten films for contemporary generation of film fans, even of film creators and researchers. The “POCITY/ Feelings” Prešov Film Festival took place for the first time in 2010 with an intent to complete the cultural programme of the city of Prešov and to mediate a quality film creation. It offers a choice of feature and documentary films and accompanying actions. The PAFF is held in Pezinok since 2003 and its programme is formed particularly by independent, low-budgeted and student´s films without regard to genre, i. e. the feature, documentary, animated also experimental films. The films choice is not restricted by their length, the festival presents also several seconds lasting ultra short films. In 2017 the PAFF awarded for the first time besides two spectator´s prizes (in the main competition and in competition of 13 seconds films) the jury award. In addition to the films the PAFF is formed also by concerts, lectures, workshops and other interesting accompanying events. Košice is venue of the “Golden beggar” International Festival of Local Televisions with competitive show, the second part of which is the Košice Film Festival offering a choice of European films. Within the festival the working meetings and accompanying cultural events under a title of ESSENCE of Košice are organized.

In principle, the whole Slovakia, respectively a larger number of its towns, is a venue of travelling shows of Pheasant cinematograph and Project 100. The Pheasant cinematograph takes place during summer months all over the Slovakia since 2003. The projections from two “retrobuses” equipped for professional projection are set under the open sky, predominantly in the squares in historic centres of cities. The stopovers last 4 to 5 days and every evening one short film and one full-length film are screened. The event is a certain alternative to classical cinema distribution and it presents new and also older films representing the home cinematography which are presented or which have been presented in the Slovak distribution. The Project 100 is a travelling and educational show that came into being in 1995 on occasion of 100 years since the first film projection in Paris in 1895 with an intent to bring in Slovakia a hundred of significant works of the world cinematography in the source of 10 years. The show goes on also after fulfilment of the primary intent and henceforth it yearly represents a choice of ten films confronting the extraordinary works from the golden fund of world cinematography with the newest works of creators (including those of Slovakia) which acquire awards at the most prestigious festivals.

Usually once in year also the representative offices of foreign countries in Slovakia organize the film reviews of national cinematographies lasting a few days, within which they usually present a choice of new also archive stock-shorts which are often from the offer of digitally restored „classics”. The Film Europe Media Company is interesting subject in this respect that is either organizer of film review of contemporaneous Nordic Scandi cinematography respectively a co-organizer, together with French Institute in Slovakia, of Crème de la crème review of francophone film or selective film review from three prestigious world festivals: the Venice MFF,  the Festival in Cannes and the Berlin MFF and of Be2Can which makes use the principle of multiplatform distribution by means of cinema, television, VoD and DVD.

The One world MFDF, /fusion/, Freedom Festival and the Inakost Film Festival are the most well-marked festivals with thematic focusing on diverse aspects of fundamental rights and human freedoms. The One world International Festival of Documentary Films, of which the main organizer is the „Man in threatening” association, represents in its programme the latest professional foreign and Slovak documentary creation with thematic focusing on films concerning the social, societal, global and multicultural themes in general level with an intent that is common to all above-mentioned festivals: to create a space for discussion in the spirit of values of tolerance and solidarity and of civil engagement. The festival is held 6 days in Bratislava in October when it presents approximately 50–60 films and subsequently the film choice travels into 25 cities in Slovakia. The multigenre, two-week long Bratislava Freedom Festival, of which the main organizer is the Institution of Nation´s Memory, reminders and analyzes the period of nonfreedom in Slovakia by means of the films, theatre plays, exhibitions, discussions as well  as the awards of personalities which took part in fight against totality. It is held typically in November.  Also the multigenre festival [fusion] is the greatest event focused on migration and foreigners in Slovakia and it is implemented yearly already since 2006, originally known under the title of Week of new minorities up to 2011. Its main objective is to present and join the people of the most manifold cultures, to raise awareness on new minorities in Slovakia, to present the life of foreigners und to make sensitive the public to themes of migration and multiculturalism. The Inakost Film Festival dedicates itself to the theme of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people in such way as it is presented in the film. In 2007 this festival linked up to the tradition of gay festivals (they were carried-out and took place in Slovakia in 1996 to 2001) also by that (that) it is held in more region cities. In the present time is a unique LGBTI (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, intergenders) film festival in Slovakia.

Although the Fest Anča International Animation Festival (Žilina) is not unique festival of animated film in Slovakia, however, it is unique multigenre festival of animation destined especially to adult viewer. The programme of festival is formed by a choice of new animated films but also by important films of the animation history. The „Game Days” event focused on the support of videogame industry and cooperation between both animators also videogame studios or on the forum dedicated to development and presentation of animated projects and designated to film professionals of Fest Anča „New talents” is part of the festival. Further programme of Fest Anča is formed by lectures, expositions, workshops, concerts, film projections for children and other accompanying actions. The competitive programme is reserved for animated films up to 30 minutes, and in International competition of animated films with Anča Award, in International competition of animated student´s films with Anča Student Award, in International competition of animated videoclips with Anča Music Video Award, in International competition of animated films for children with Anča Kid´s Award. Also the Slovak competition films with Anča Slovak Award subsidized and granted by Literary Fund ant the Slovak Film Distribution competition with Anča D Award awarded by the Film Europe Media Company are determined to the Slovak animated films. The Biennial event of animation Bratislava (BAB) that arose like an accompanying event of Biennial event of illustration Bratislava (BIB) and which works individually with a mission to enable an artistic confrontation of animated creation for children, to trail its interconnection to illustration is the film event dedicated to the animated film for children since 1991.  The festival is prepared and organized by BIBIANA, the international house of art for children and it takes place under the auspices of the International centre of films for children and the youngs (Centre internationale du film pour l’enfence et la jeunesse, CIFEJ). The retrospective shows, profile shows of creators, thematic film series, international specialist seminars and symposiums dedicated to the relation of illustration and animated creation, to the animated film and media for children as well as to the presentation of significant personalities are part of it. The festival grants more awards: peculiar Prix Klingsor prizes for the lifelong creation of personality which thoroughly connects plastic arts also film maker´s qualities and the ability to address the children´s spectator in its creation (since 1991), the Albin Brunovský medal for an extraordinary artistic, graphic also specialized contribution in the field of animated film (since 1999), and more awards including Prize of children´s spectator in the international competition.

The Film and Television Faculty of Musical Arts College (FTF VŠMU) has reacted yet in 1994 to a need of the platform for presentation of films of own students by founding the Áčko Festival. In the present time the festival is a competitive show of topical filmmaker´s creation at the colleges and high schools with filmic or other audiovisual orientation with awards in the categories: the best feature, documentary and animated film, the best direction, screenplay, cut/editing, sound, animation, camera and production. Since 2017 the festival programme was broadened by international competition of film essays and experimental films „Subterranean river of cinematography” judged by a 5-member jury of renowned international film critics. The intent of festival is to create a space for discussion among students, i.e. among fledgling creators and specialists about current status and routing of film creation. The VŠMU is also a space of holding of the educational and networking forum: Visegrad Film Forum (VFF) intended first of all but not only to students of film schools. Practical workshops, master classes, case studies, discussions or film projections of students of partner´s schools are tuned so to reflects all main filmmaker´s professions. Also the guests and lectors from ranks of screenwriters, directors and producers of feature and documentary films (Krzysztof Zanussi, Benedek Fliegauf, Peter Strickland, Anja Salomonowitz), architects and creative artists (designers), mask authors a authors of special effects (Allan Starski, Ludovica Ferrario, Colin Arthur), of cutters/editors (Hervé Schneid, Réka Lemhénvyi), of the international distribution and publicity (Éva Vezér, Sasha Wieser, Roberto Olla), and other. The students of high schools can engage and present their animated or short feature films in one-day competitive shows:  Animofest – International Festival of Animated films of High Schools andUAT Film” – International Festival of Feature Films of High Schools.

The festivals with specialized and specialist interest orientation belong among the oldest film events in Slovakia. The ETNOFILM Čadca International Film Festival takes place in Čadca since 1980, it is biennial event dedicated to problems of ethnology but also to social and cultural anthropology in broad sense of word which presents the latest documentary films with an aim to increase the awareness of public, filmmakers and of media about the need of its protection, to support the rise of next creation as well as to excite and to develop the interest in this problems. The ETNOFILM Čadca is a competitive festival with main awards of Golden Ox GRAND PRIX, Silver Ox and Bronze Ox. Special prize is awarded for the best film about European cultural heritage (VIA EUROPA award), to a Slovak creator for the best individual  performance awarded by the Literary Fund  (Martin Slivka award), to an creator living outside Slovakia for the best film about the life of Slovaks in abroad (Prize of the League For the Advancement of the Slovak Nation), for the best film dedicated to the Kysuce region (Kysuce Cultural Foundation Prize) and for the best Czech film awarded  by the Czech embassy (Prize for the best Czech film). Further awards are the Prize of chairman of the Žilina self-governing region, Festival Manageress Prize, Prize of Mayor of the city of Čadca, Prize of the „Ethnologist beyond camera” Ethnographic Society, Prize of the Slovak Film Institution, Prize of the Club of Film Journalists and the Student´s Jury Prize. Nitra for several last years also other Slovak cities (Zvolen, Košice, Bratislava) are the venue for the Agrofilm International Film Festival dedicated to the fields of agriculture, food processing industry, population nourishment, forestry, water management, ecology problems of the country and of the life of its inhabitants, protection and revitalization of natural sources and to the environment and to the people life quality enhancement. Its organizer is Research Institute of Animal Production, in the present time it is part of National agricultural and food processing centre. The festival programme is formed by the international competition of films and media campaigns. Noncompetitive sections, projections at request and accompanying events are particularly specialist discussion forums, lectures with demonstrations of product production and with their degustations, further sale farmer´s markets with an offer of unique local products as well as also the „Science and art meeting” – an exposition of the creation of foremost artists of Slovakia. The primacy as to origin/coming into being belongs to by 11 years older Ekotopfilm – Envirofilm International Festival that is the oldest festival about sustainable development in the world. For the first time it took place like a Festival of specialized films in Trnava in 1974 and it gradually widened its programme structure by specialized programme and by further accompanying activities. The festival is a competitive show since 1990. The festival moved into Žilina already as the Ekotopfilm in 1993 and from its 25th year (1998) it awards besides the Grand Prix a „Honour of Ekotopfilm” prize for contribution for sustainable development (Jacques-Yves Cousteau was the first awarded personality). Subsequently the festival moved into Bratislava. On the basis of a partner agreement from 2015 it comes to an interconnection of Ekotopfilm and Envirofilm. The festival is focused on all branches of industrial, economic and human activity of man with an emphasis on sustainable growth. The festival programme has about all an informational and educational character.  The films in a length of the most 60 minutes put into the competition are assessed in these categories: natural and natural history films, science and technology, successful stories of field of technology, successful stories of the area of human rights and investigative journalism. The films up to 20 minutes are judged in two categories: short films in general and films for children and the youngs with the focusing on the environmental education. The International Festival of Diver´s Films (Podbanské) is devoted to the films and photographs manufactured from at least 40 per cent under the level of natural waters. The goal of the festival is to increase awareness on water ecosystem whether at global level (oceans and seas) or at local level: the ecosystem of rivers, lakes and small water flows. The festival is a competitive one and it is created for the professional also amateur filmmakers and photographers with conferred awards of GRAND PRIX for films, TOP FOTOGRAF in photographic competition as well as with prizes and certificates of merit in individual categories.

The festivals of outdoor and mountain films stand more by the side of leisure interest activities. The Poprad International Festival of Mountain Films came into being in 1993 and its programme is formed by the latest international film works orientated to getting to know the sport life as well as the everyday life of people in mountain environment, by films accentuating the beauties of mountain flora and fauna, nature preservation and of traditional culture of diverse nations. Since the first year the festival comprises a competition with Grand Prix awards, with the festival prize according to jury decision, spectators award and with prizes devoted by societal, sport and other organizations and individuals. The multimedia debates with significant personalities of societal, cultural and sport life, the photographic exhibitions, projections for schools and other are part of festival. The Poprad International Festival of Mountain Films is the unique representative in Alliance for mountain film (International Alliance for Mountain Film). Since 2000 in Bratislava a competitive show of the mountain film „Hory a mesto / Mountains and town“ is held. The festival programme is formed by Slovak and foreign films arranged into the thematic blocs (e.g. Earth, Water, Rock, Air, Snow, Bikes, Enviro, Surf and so on) which are completed by multimedia presentations of foreign and Slovak guests. The accompanying programme includes educational seminars and workshops for photographers, a photo competition, thematic photograph exhibitions, traveller´s lectures, rope attractions and climbing race. The festival and its events are open to all with an interest in mountain, traveller´s, adrenaline or adventure films as well as the expositions and lectures, educational seminars and workshops for filmmakers also projection for schools. The festival awards besides the Grand Prix main prize with certificates of honour in categories: water, earth, air and rock also the V4 Prix, a prize of Literary Fund intended to original Slovak films and a Prize for fledgling filmmaker. The “Mountains and town” festival awards also the amateur filmmakers since 2013. In 2006 the Trenčín “Mountains and town” festival took place for the first time, today it is the HoryZonty Adventure Film Festival with a programme which is composed of Slovak and foreign documentary and feature films with a theme of travelling, outdoor sports and ecology. The programme is organized into a competitive choice of Slovak and Czech films including nonprofessional creation, noncompetitive section of foreign films as well as films mapping the Czechoslovakian expeditions of the seventies and eighties (Retro in the tube) or into thematic section representing the films about handicapped sportsmen and their sports performances. The festival awards the Grand Prix, Jury Award, Spectators Award and since 2017 also the “Slovakia in film” award intended for a film shot in the Slovak environment. The accompanying programme includes the thematic workshops (life saving in mountain environment, prevention of avalanche danger and the like).  Since 2007 also the Prešov “Mountains and town” is held. Already in 1987 the  Festival of Expedition arose the early programme of which were formed by films from trips across the former Soviet republics, Balkan and on the less known places of Slovakia. Its programme was enlarged onto the films of few explored quarters of globe. The “Ľudia a hory / People and mountains” are the oldest festival in Slovakia which was originally held in Diviaky since 1980, in the present time the Turiec cinema in Turčianske Teplice is its venue. At the opposite end the “Straight to the point” traveller´s festival stands which takes place since 2013 and it developed itself in a travelling festival (February – March) with regular presentations and other minor events. The Piešťany Eurotour devoted to the documentary and feature films on travelling, country and man is aimed at the development and support of tourism in Slovakia with emphasizing the promotion of Slovakia in abroad and it is open to amateur films. Its programme consists of the “Moment” main competitive section which is a competition of short family films from holiday or from other experiences of touring Slovakia and abroad shot by amateurs, and of the noncompeitive sections: Slovakia – my home, Europe – my home, Slovakia from archive, European monuments, Film and city, Man and age and accompanying events, for example expositions, projections for schools, lectures and discussions. The Martin Traveller´s Festival, Nitra High Mountains, Žilina High Mountains, Stará Ľubovňa ZDRUFF, Babia hora Diashow  or Horalfest belong among further outdoor and traveller´s festivals. You will find information on the outdoor and traveller´s festivals also on the websites

Also the CINEAMA oldest statewide competition of amateur film creation and the Played Amateur Humour show present the amateur film. The CINEAMA took place under its topical title for the first time in 1993. The competition is not focused thematically and it is divided into three age categories: authors with an age to 16 years, to 21 years and over 21 years, and into seven genre categories which are: document, reportage, feature film, animated film, experiment, video clip and minute film. The undergraduates and graduates of Film Colleges are excluded from the competition. The competition has a qualifying character with minimally three degrees on the level of district (region), country and at statewide level. The jury draws up a film choice for Czech video salon national competition from the best awarded works and a choice for world competition of amateur films of the world organization for UNICA amateur film. The Played Amateur Humour (Dolná Strehová) is a competitive show of amateur films with humorous and satirical subject matter founded in 1991. The competition is intended for author´s of films with a maximal length of 7 minutes from Slovakia and Bohemia. It is competed for Golden, Silver and Bronze pipe. The winning shots are chosen by voting of spectators.