[artinfo] Intercultural dialogue: Cultural Policy Slovenian Style

Adele Eisenstein adele at c3.hu
Sun Apr 13 17:03:54 CEST 2008

I would like to draw your attention to the last episode in what seems to be a
systematic and persistent governmental policy of trying to root out film
culture in Slovenia.


The proposal of the Slovenian Film Fund TO CUT ALL FUNDING for the Isola
Cinema festival --with the argument that “its content is inappropriate for
co-financing”-- is not only a gross injustice, it is also an insult to film
culture, to culture, to intercultural dialogue, as well as to the respect for
the legal system of the EU presiding state. 


Allow me to demonstrate:

Kino Otok/Isola Cinema is an annual international film festival, that in its
four years of existence “has been building a formidable reputation”, as Kieron
Corless wrote in Sight & Sound last year. He concluded his festival-report
with calling Isola Cinema “a well nigh-perfect festival”. All of the directors
who have attended the festival have spoken fondly and enthusiastically of 
Isola Cinema. Everybody –to name just a few of them: Apichatpong
Weerasethakul, Abderrahmane Sissako, Lav Diaz, Abolfazl Jalili, Mika
Kaurismäki, Christopher Coppola, Shaji Karun, Pablo Trapero, Lisandro Alonso,
Girish Kasaravalli, Peter Mettler, Roger Gnoam M'Bala, Valeska Grisebach-- 
have expressed their sincere wish to return to the “Island of Cinema”. There
is ample evidence to prove that the Isola Cinema festival has an impeccable
reputation when it comes to both public appreciation and critical acclaim.

For the past four years the municipality of Izola and the Slovenian Film Fund
have underlined the significance of this festival by financially supporting it.


On January 16th 2008 the acting director of the Slovenian Film Fund, Mr. Igor
Prodnik, sent the festival a letter informing it about the results of its
application for financial support for the 5th edition of Isola Cinema. The
commission who assessed the festival's application gave the project 99 out of
100 points. The commission concluded that “with the Isola Cinema festival the
applicant has kept on demonstrating that it is a strong and on
programme-quality-based festival-event, making it one of the important film
events in Slovenia. In evidence of this we state the exceptional popularity of
the festival with the film experts, as well as with the numerous foreign
guests of the festival, and with the Slovene and foreign public, which
responds to it with an ever-increasing interest. The commission unanimously
proposes that the Isola Cinema festival should be supported as much as possible”.

Based on the commission's report, the available funds and the order of
precedence by which the application had been received Mr. Prodnik proposed to
co-finance the 5th edition with an amount of 10.000 EUR.

Since this represented a cut of nearly 50% (in 2007, the Film Fund decided in
the end October to support the festival --that took place in May-June earlier
that year—with an amount of 19.800 EUR) the festival wrote a letter of protest
within the procedurally approved term of three days, asking the commission to
reconsider their decision.


We did not receive any reply to our letter of protest.

Instead another commission was appointed (this time presided by Mr. Jambrek,
current head of the Programme Dept. of Slovenska kinoteka/Slovenian
Cinematheque) who reassessed our application and came to an entirely different


On April 8th, the –very same-- acting director of the Slovenian Film Fund, Mr.
Igor Prodnik, wrote the festival another letter with as heading: “This letter
replaces the letter of January 16th 2008”. It informed us that the new score
given by the new commission was considerably lower. Instead of 99, the new
commission gave the same application a score of 74,34 on 100. The conclusion
read: “The members of the commission have the opinion that despite its
relative media recognition, the content of the project is inappropriate for


Cutting all national funding of Isola Cinema severely jeopardizes the future
of one of the most important international film festivals in Slovenia.


Since Isola Cinema is a film festival that has “intercultural dialogue” on top
of its agenda, we consider this decision to be an insult to the mere idea of
intercultural dialogue. This is all the more painful, considering that 2008 is
the “European Year of Intercultural Dialogue”, and considering that this is
happening in the country currently presiding the European Union.


As the procedure described above illustrates (including –to call it
euphemistically— “highly irregular” practices, such as changing a selection
commission in mid-procedure; sending out two different commission-reports with
very different results in response to the very same call; not responding for
nearly 3 months to procedurally approved terms of protest), we also believe
that this is an insult to the mere idea of legality. It is the exact opposite
of transparency of cultural policy.


As with the previous letter by the Slovenian Film Fund, we have --of course--
also this time immediately sent a letter of protest to Mr. Prodnik and CC-ed
it to the Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti.

We sincerely hope the decision will be reconsidered. However, based on the way
Isola Cinema has been treated in this procedure, it looks like a lot of
pressure will be needed to be able to reverse that decision.


Therefore we would like to ask you to spread this information to the Minister
of Culture of your country, or to everyone who --and every institution that--
could possibly put pressure on those who could reverse that unfair decision:

Igor Prodnik – igor.prodnik at gov.si – acting director of the Slovenian Film
Fund of the Republic of Slovenia & Director-General of the Directorate for
Media at the Ministry of Culture

Dr. Vasko Simoniti – vasko.simoniti at gov.si – Minister of Culture

Janez Janša – gv.kpv at gov.si – Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia






Koen Van Daele

Director Isola Cinema


PS: we would appreciate if you could also CC any letters of protest to:
isolacinema at gmail.com

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