New European and Mediterranean film festival in Koper

  • It could be said that there are too many people in the world, just as there are too many film festivals. However, the birth of a baby is generally a cause for celebration, and so is a new film festival. The youngest film festival in the world was born on October 14th in Koper, a pleasant Slovenian seaside resort on the Adriatic not far from Trieste. This European and Mediterranean film festival, only a little older than Fedeora, was conceived by the actor and comedian Matjaz Javsnik and Jelka Stergel, who was director of the successful Ljubljana International Film Festival for many years, working together as director and programmer of the festival respectively. 

    Their experience, backed up with an enthusiastic team of young volunteers, managed to deliver the premature baby in less than nine months. The competition programme was interesting and eclectic, which had documentaries (including Ocean World 3D which had an exotic variety of sea mammals and fish in our faces), an outrageous British comedy (Four Lions), the epic Baaria by Giussepe Tornatore, and a smaller scale film such as Stynu Neuteces/You can’t run away from the past, directed by Lenka Kny, a well-acted and interesting Czech drama. But there were three outstanding films that shared the Golden Horn (an exquisite glass trophy).

    The professional international jury comprising of the American Brendan Noel Ward, a screenwriter, script doctor and professor; Alenka Kraigher, a Slovenian actress and filmmaker working in New York; and Annamaria Percavassi, festival director of the Alpe Adria Cinema in Trieste, gave their main prize to Metastaze/Metastases, the gripping Croatian film, directed by Branko Schmidt. (Our Fedeora jury – which had two Croatian members – was pleased that the other jury gave it the well-deserved prize, otherwise if we had done so it might have seemed a little biased.) They also gave a special best cinematography award to Besa, a Serbian-Slovenian co-production, directed by Srdjan Karanović.

    We had also considered Besa, a beautifully crafted and wonderfully acted minimalist drama, almost a two-hander, which shows a subtle developing relationship between a young Slovenian woman and a middle-aged Albanian servant, both of whom are isolated from the inhabitants of the small Serbian town at the very beginning of World War I. Most of it is seen through the eyes of the woman who is virtually  prisoner in her own home while her Serbian husband is away at war, so that there are elegant longshots of life outside her window.

    The Fedeora jury, made up of me, Dejan Duric, a film critic from Croatia; and Tomislav Sakic, the executive editor of the only Croatian film magazine, Hrvatski Filmski Ljetopis, decided on Gainsbourg, a first feature by the graphic artist Joann Sfar, for ‘its original and imaginative approach to the biographical picture genre, and its brilliant casting and atmospheric recreation of an era.’ 

    In addition to the competition programme was an appropriate  homage to the celebrated Slovenian director of photography, Vilko Filac (1950-2008), and a scriptwriting workshop run by Brendon Noel Ward. So here was a stimulating and varied programme that should have appealed to an intelligent public, hungry for better fare than the multiplex usually supplies. Gradually, the good news of the festival will get through to more of them, and an audience will begin to build next year when the baby will be bigger and stronger.


    Ronald Bergan, 21 October 2010,