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Slovak cinema

Slovak cinema

To trace the steps of Slovak cinema, it’s needed to get back to the old days of Czechoslovakia, when the Czech Republic and Slovakia were one country and shared some of their art traditions. The story of Slovak –as well as Czech- cinema begins in 1921 with Jánošík, a full-length feature movie was Jaroslav Siakel. However, two years before a Slovak-themed film appeared within months of the creation of Czechoslovakia.

Ján Kadár

Professionalisation of the industry

In those early years of Czechoslovakian cinema the plots revealed the traditions and folklore of the country, often showing rural exteriors.

A year before Slovakia’s first independence was founded the first Department of Film in Czechoslovakia within the School of Industrial Arts in Bratislava. That first organization –said by experts to be amongst the first five in Europe- was commanded by the future Oscar-winning director Ján Kadár and other students. However, its fate was to be short and the department was closed in 1939 after the independence of the First Slovak Republic, a client state of the Nazi Germany.

An avoided censorship

As part of the Nazi “empire”, the Slovak film productions were dedicated to propaganda newsreels through the short-films studio Nástup. After a short –lived reunification of an independent Czechoslovakia in which few film were produces, the censorship was established again, this time by the Soviet socialist regime.

Between the 50s and early 70s, the social-realism took over the film productions in Czechoslovakia with directors like Paľo Bielik, Václav Kubásek and Juraj Herz. Their films often depicted the social change and progress of the working class in movies like the Struggle Will End Tomorrow (1951). Other directors, with the approval of soviet authorities dealt with World War II subjects and the fall of the Nazi regime. An outstanding example of those films is Juraj Herz's The Cremator (1968), a black comedy about the Final Solution which turned to be a cult film in both the Czech and Slovak republics.

 

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The Cremator

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Martin Šulík

A difficult environment for cinema

The decades from the 70s to the early 90s saw a more back-seated communist censorship for Slovak cinema, in consequence giving more opportunities –not to many, though- to innovative directors to deal with subjects like adventures and fiction. From those days, the films Dušan Hanák’s Rosy Dreams (1976), Zoro Záhon's The Assistant (1982) and Dusan Hanák’s I Love, You Love (1989) are among the more remarkable.

Sharing the same condition of most of the former USSR estates, Slovakian cinema saw a decrease due to lack of funding and the recent political changes: the fall of the Soviet regime and the split of Czechoslovakia. However, Slovak film industry did not completely plunge down and important post-Communist era films include Martin Šulík's Everything I Like (, 1992) and The Garden (1995).

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