Three hundred and ten articles about culture and none of them has dealt with films.. Time to cast my ignorance about films aside, and ask a bunch of young Slovak about their preferences when it comes to projections on the wide screen.
The potential of films as a way to convey cultural values can hardly be underestimated. The `internationality` of film may even exceed that of music. Ask any European his favourite movie and the resulting list of commonly appreciated `oldies` will show remarking similarities. Who has not seen Home Alone, Pretty Woman, Pulp Fiction or Am?lie? Who has not subconsciously sniffed up a tiny bit of the USA or France by seeing these films?
`I like films that deal with the balance between good and evil`
Many new productions are just as countryunspecific as the ones mentioned above, although each country may have a preference for productions from certain countries. In the case of Slovakia, that country is Czech Republic. Ronald (29) explains that Czech Republic has much more of a film producing tradition than Slovakia has. `They release about ten decent movies every year, while Slovakians may produce one. Czech companies support the big productions, while the Czech government is reserving money for smaller and alternative projects. Many Czech ones gain international recognition.`
`We Slovaks have the same history and similar cultures, so it`s very easy for us to understand what kind of subjects their films deal with. Many of them are slightly comic representations of everyday life. Dedictvi aneb Kurvahosigutentag (literally: `the heritage of Prostitute-guys-happy day`) is one such films. It looks at the changes that took place during the transition from communism to capitalism. Such issues are not yet suitable for historical documentaries, simply because too many people still remember those times. Mocking about it is a perfect way to still make the material accessible`, Ronald says.
Ronald`s favourite production ever was Heat, about two guys trying to catch and kill each other. `I like films from the mid-1990s. Many of them were better than what is released nowadays. Pulp Fiction was good and so were Forrest Gump and Die Hard 3 ? Die Hard with a Vengeance. Part four of those series was the biggest disappointment ever, I don`t know how it could get from so good to so bad. For the rest, I like action movies and ones that have some kind of conspiracy plot. Or films that show that make us see something that would otherwise remain covered. I am thinking of some of Michael Moore`s movies here.`
Ivana (22) particularly enjoyed the Czech production Samotari, translated as `The Loners`. She explains how this film shows the lives of seven young professionals living in Prague. `They incidentally get to know each other at different points in the film but all end up back lonely again before the film ends. The film is a good representation of contemporary Czech life. I liked to identify with the character of Vesna, a lovely young girl who came from Macedonia. She talks with a cute accent, wears nice clothes and manages her life in an admirable way.`
Contrary to international TV programs in Slovakia, most cinemas show films in their original language. `I like it better that way`, says Ivana. `We only have a few `voice actors` in Slovakia, so it`s quite annoying to see one actor in one film having a certain voice, then see another movie where another character has the exact same voice.` Ivana also explains that Czech movies have neither dubbing nor subtitles: `Slovak and Czech are sufficiently similar for all Slovaks to understand, including the children.`
Ivana usually relies on her boyfriend to tell her which films to see. `He knows more about it than I do. We see many of them on DVDs or simply downloaded from the internet. For most of the movies, different language versions and different subtitles are available.` Rado (29) follows a similar strategy. `For every one time I go to the cinema, I will probably watch 10 films at home. My brother is an IT-expert. He helps me have access to whatever film I feel like seeing.`
Rado has a hard time deciding on his favourite film ever: `Am?lie and No country for old men could both qualify, but films are always different from one another and it`s difficult to decide which one is the best of all. Most of the movies we get here, possibly except the Czech ones, are the same ones as in Western Europe. Some do not enjoy equal popularity. We never had a big James Bond tradition, even though I think I heard of the guy before 1989. Everybody now knows about his existence, but I couldn`t mention a single title of one of his films. But just like in many Western European country, we do have Home Alone on TV every single Christmas.`
David (21, photo) liked the film Cult of the Swastika about two American brothers who are members of a neo-nazi organisation. `The older brother is sent to prison for killing a black man. While the older brother slowly learns that Nazism does not provide any solutions, the younger brother becomes even more fanatic. In the end, the older brother tries to make his brother resign from the extremist movement. He only temporarily succeeds`, David explains.
`I also enjoyed Fight Club, which shows a couple of guys who initially have good ambitions to change the world. Their fellowship starts out as a small fighting club but the end is rather apocalyptic. It shows how quickly good intentions can turn bad and how too much self-confidence of a small group can end up putting a whole society at risk. I like films that deal with such subjects of finding the right way among good and evil. It`s a pity that they hardly ever show the solution to the problems they bring up.`
David remembers the worst film he has ever seen, but forgot about the title. `It was about some alien invasion with men wearing green ant masks and eating people from balconies. I don`t like the Hollywood scene too much. I prefer the slightly alternative productions.`
Martin (24) likes the film 21 about a teacher and a few brilliant students who manage to make a lot of money in casinos: `I like the idea of that film, that good knowledge of mathematics can help you solve everything. Apart from that, the camera work was really good and so was the soundtrack.`
Jakub (25) is a fanatic attendant of film festivals in Czech Republic and Slovakia: `We have quite a few of those and they serve as perfect venues for alternative and international productions: whether they come from Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain or elsewhere. We now have two Multiplex cinemas in Bratislava and about five old and small ones. They are all quite willing to also program the more alternative productions. They don`t do Bollywood productions and I guess they are right in that. I can`t stand such films and neither can most fellow Slovaks. On the other hand, animated films perform quite well. Even the ones who are intended for children. Many adolescents and families go see those as well. Walle, Nemo and Ratatouille all attracted big audiences.` From recent productions, Jakub remembers seeing Indiana Jones 4, which was `neither a big success nor a big disappointment. As one could expect it to be. I usually check a film`s ratings on different websites in order to decide whether I should see it or not. In most cases, I wait a little, then download the film from internet. It`s not really illegal because sharing Torrents is not prohibited.`
`My current favourite film is Desperado, in which a guitar player is trying to kill a guy who killed his girlfriend. The guitar player loads his guitar case with plenty of arms and ammunition in pursuit of the guy, who eventually turns out to be his own brother. He nevertheless decides to kill him, after having killed another 200 people on the way. It`s quite a cruel film, but presented as a comedy. It has famous actors and a well-known director, who before becoming a film director managed to watch each and every film in the video rent-out where he used to work. He knows what he`s doing.`
Hanna (26) likes films that manage to incite a specific feeling: `I like it when a film forces me to think about something I haven`t thought about before, or when it makes me remember some feeling that I had before. Some good films make me change my mind about things, even if sometimes such changes are only temporary.` When I ask her about the first time Hanna went to cinema, she starts to smile. `I must have been 6 or 7 years old. I went there with friends and my mum had given me sweets so that I had something to eat during the break. I waited and waited for the break, but there was none!`
For films based on books, Hanna remembers 1984 as the only film where she was not disappointed in the performance of the director. `In all other cases, I preferred reading the book and creating my own fantasies around them. My favourite director is Lars von Trier. He makes films that look a bit amateur-like, but all of them look very authentic because of that. One of my favourite films is Persepolis: a sort of cartoon that was directed by a French woman who grew up in Iran. The film shows how she lived her childhood. The story is not related to religion or politics, it just shows the life of a young woman growing up in Iran. Nothing about it is perfect or wrong. It`s just reality with all happiness and sadness that belongs to it.
For people planning to travel to Slovakia during the summer: the big upcoming releases for the next month will include Sex v Meste, Sex and the City ? the movie, Dark Knight, Prince of Kaspia, Kung Fu Panda and Mama Mia. Select your favourite and enjoy!
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