Last night, I attended Slovak Impact, ASIFA-SF’s screening of student films from Slovakia. It ended up being a great show. Michaela Copikova, one of the filmmakers was there. Currently, she is studying at the Academy of Art. Before screening the shorts, Michaela gave us some background on what influenced the films, what life was like growing up in Slovakia, and the challenges that the filmmakers face in trying to produce films in Slovakia today.
For those unfamiliar with the country of Slovakia, it is a fairly small country in Eastern Europe. After WWI, Slovakia succeded from the Hungarian empire and along with Monrovia and Bohemia, formed a common state, Czechoslovakia. From WWII up until 1989, it was under communist rule and finally in 1993, Slovakia became its own sovereign state.
Michaela explained to us that she along with the other filmmakers belonged to the “Generation of Confusion.” Her generation was born into the communist regime and grew up exposed only to state approved entertainment. She described that the only films, animation, and television she could see were only those produced by other communist countries. These films were drastically different from what we are used to seeing in the US. The films tended to be much more dark, violent, and very pessimistic. There were no stories of hope, no fairy tales, no Cinderella stories. [See end of post for clarification.] After the iron curtain fell, thus began an influx of culture and ideas. Teachers were confused on what to teach the students and the people, in general, were confused on what to make of this new cultural liberation. That was the birth of the “Generation of Confusion.” Michaela explained that even though her and her fellow classmates were now free to express themselves in whatever way they could, they still felt attached to the films of their childhood and wanted to carry on the tradition. A tradition that would surely be lost and forgotten.
Here are some of the films from the screening that I was able to find online:
This is Michaela’s film, About Socks and Love
This is Boris Sima’s film, Today Is My First Date
This is Peter Budinski’s film, Birds of Prey
This is Andrej Kolencik’s film, Busy-Body and Boar Strike Again
A couple other great films that I couldn’t find posted anywhere to view were Viliam by Veronika Obertova and Catch Him! by Boris Sima.
My grandfather’s family is from Slovakia. They immigrated to America at the end of the 19th century. My last name, Kallok, is actually of Slovak origin. It was great to see that animation is a passion in Slovakia and I am glad that I had a chance to support my heritage. Hopefully, one day I will have a chance to go and visit.
*As both Michaela and Vava pointed out in their comments, the statement I made about the themes and content of Czechoslovakia film during Communist control is not an accurate description. Please read their comments for a clearer understanding of the films they grew up on. I apologize for any wrong or inaccurate information.