Mako Sajko honoured by peers for his short documentaries

Ljubljana – Mako Sajko, a 94-year-old screenwriter and director known mainly for his short documentaries, won the France Štiglic Award for lifetime achievement as the Directors’ Guild of Slovenia presented its annual accolades at the Slovenian Cinematheque on Wednesday.

The judging panel described Sajko’s oeuvre as “truly exceptional” and a “series of classics, a neckless of film pearls on the thankless neck of Slovenian cinematography”.

His classics “speak not only about the time they were made in but communicate with the contemporary viewer in a lively way through style, narrative and content”.

All of Sajko’s “short but incredibly potent documentaries shed light not only on the topics troubling a certain place and time, but pose difficult questions to today’s audience as well”.

Sajko graduated from the Belgrade High Film School in 1959 before pursuing his film education in Paris and Munich and as assistant to Slovenian directors František Čap, France Štiglic, Jane Kavčič and France Kosmač.

He has mostly directed social-themed short films and documentaries, mostly based on his own script.

He was honoured in 1969 with the Prešeren Fund Prize and in 2009 won the Badjura Award for lifetime accomplishment.

His memorable films include Kaj za vas? (What Can I Get for You), a 15-minute nostalgic homage to Ljubljana produce markets from 1962, Strupi (Poisons), an early warning about industrial pollution from 1964.

The jurors also mentioned Samomorilci, pozor! (Suicides, Beware), another short, from 1964, on the issue of suicide among young people, Promiskuiteta (Promiscuity, 1974) and Slavica exception (1971).

The France Štiglic Awards, which come in the form of sculptures by director and sculptor Miha Knific, were given out for the seventh time in cooperation with the Slovenian Cinematheque and with the financial support of the Slovenian Film Centre.

They are named after the director and author of the first Slovenian feature film.