The Viba Film studio in Ljubljana.

The date of birth of Slovenian cinema is 1905. Today many of young Slovenian filmmakers have attracted attention at film festivals around the world and received awards.

Even though the first Slovenian documentary was made only a few years after the invention of the film camera, the history of Slovenian film does not include any real cinematic work done before the Second World War, with the exception of a few snippets filmed on special occasions, and short silent documentaries. That said, Slovenia’s single contribution to the old Hollywood was indeed notable: the Slovenian-born silent film star Ita Rina.

The years following the Second World War would see a considerable change for the better from this period of stagnation. The first ever Slovenian sound feature, Na svoji zemlji  (‘On Our Own Land’ ), directed by France Štiglic, was remarkable for its involved emotional and sincere approach, thus escaping the stereotyping of realistic socialism, which was the prevalent creative mode in post-war Yugoslavia. Likewise, most of the other Slovenian fiction films of the period depict the war and social issues in a surprisingly intimate and involved way, which sets them apart from the ideological matrix of the post-war years.

Support for National Cinematography

This was also a period of well-made youth films which even won awards in Western Europe, such as Kekec, directed by Jože Gale, and Dolina miru (‘The Valley of Peace’) by France Štiglic. In a few years’ time new directors were making films based on modernist aesthetics and inspired by French and Scandinavian cinema. Especially noteworthy are Matjaž Klopčič and Boštjan Hladnik. A series of films based on popular Slovenian literary works were followed by the socially engaged films of the 1980’s, which focused on social issues in a quest to find their place among the films of the famous Yugoslavian ‘black wave’ cinema movement, but these proved less successful than the films made by Serbian or Croatian directors. 

More noteworthy cinematic achievements began surfacing after 1980: these were often critical and socially involved works of art, offering a radically different interpretation of the fixed historical view of things established by the socialist ideological apparatus. Films such as Splav Meduze (‘The Raft of the Medusa’) by Karpo Godina and Nasvidenje v naslednji vojni (‘We’ll See You Again in the Next War’) by the Serb director Živojin Pavlović are two classic examples.

In independent Slovenia, a new generation of film-makers has come forward. The most popular themes are still social problems and marginalised groups and individuals; but there are also quite a few comedies, love stories and other genres. Directors such as Igor Šterk, Damjan Kozole, Metod Pevec, Janez Lapajne, Andrej Košak, Boris Jurjaševič, Janez Burger and Jan Cvitkovič have attracted the most attention in the past few years. 

A crucial role in this small market with relatively limited financial resources is played by the public TV broadcasting company.  It is estimated that RTV Slovenia is involved in the production of approximately one third of feature films. Along with Viba film , the national cinematic technology centre, which does most of the actual shooting of most films listed on the Slovenian Film Centre  production plan, it represents a solid base for the crucial expansion of Slovenian film production.