The Slovenia Times

LIFFe opens with tribute to Skolimowski


Until 20 November, the biggest film festival in Slovenia will be enticing film buffs with 103 feature and 19 short films. The films, which will be screened in Ljubljana and Maribor, and for the first time in Celje and Novo mesto, are divided into several sections, with this year's Homage section devoted to Skolimowski.

According to the organisers, who started selling tickets on 18 October, the public has shown the most interest in films in the sections of Avantpremieres, Kings and Queens, and Perspectives. The last section features films competing for the main, Kingfisher Prize and will offer ten films by up-and-coming directors.

Among them are Aquarius by Brazilian director Kleber Mendonca Filho about a psychological war between a real estate company and a lonesome widow for an apartment, and the feature-film debut by Croatia's Jana Jušić Quit Staring at My Plate, which spotlights a young girl taking charge as the head of her family and, driven to the edge, finds comfort in seedy sex with random strangers.

Also competing for the main festival prize will be Nikola Ljuca's look on Serbia's nouveaux riches (Humidity) and the animated feature-film debut by Academy Award-winner Michael Dudok de Wit and Japanese Studio Ghibli's first-ever international co-production, The Red Turtle.

Another highlight in the section is Porto by Gabe Klinger about a life-changing one-night encounter in Porto between a young American and a French woman, in which the young Russian-born US actor Anton Yelchin played one of his last roles before dying in an accident.

The awards, including the Kingfisher and the Dragon audience award, will be given out at a ceremony on 19 November, which will be rounded off by a screening of the latest masterpiece by iconic Spanish filmmaker Alex de la Iglesia My Big Night.

Another favourite section among the Ljubljana audience, the Avantpremieres, features films that have won international acclaim such as American Honey by Andrea Arnold, I, Daniel Blake by Ken Loach, the latest documentary by Werner Herzog Lo and Behold, and what festival director Simon Popek thinks could be a potential Oscar nominee, Loving by Jeff Nichols.

After being in Focus in 2007, Romanian film will again be presented in this section through recent films by younger directors.

The festival also features the Retrospective section, which will honour the 20th anniversary of the Slovenian Cinemateque, and Extravaganza, which brings the most extravagant and unique film art.

This year, five Slovenian films have made it into the festival programme. While Popek would like to see Slovenian films premiere at the festival, this is made somewhat hard by the fact that the Festival of Slovenia Film takes place a mere two months before LIFFe.

Nonetheless, audiences will have the opportunity to see two films by Damjan Kozole - internationally acclaimed Nightlife and his first feature from 1986, The Fatal Telephone.

Petra Seliškar's My World Is Upside Down, a music documentary about the legendary Slovenian artist Frane Milčinski Ježek, will be honoured with a special screening, and fans of Slovenian film will also be able to enjoy a youth flick by Igor Šterk, Come Along, and Nighthawk, a short animated film by Špela Čadež.

According to Popek, the festival, which has served over 800,000 aficionados in its history, has been well received in Slovenia, but is stagnating.

He has recently said that it cannot take a step forward to gain regional or international recognition. For that to happen, Popek believes additional funds - not even a head-spinning figure - would be required.


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