Made in Slovenia

15 Nov 2021, 12:54 PM

STA, 14 November 2021 - Škofja Loka Passion Play staged by the Prešeren Theatre Kranj and directed by Jernej Lorenci received the Šeligo Prize for the best production at the 51st Week of Slovenian Drama, while also receiving the audience's choice award and the awards for actors, as the festival concluded in Kranj on Saturday evening.

The play produced in cooperation with the Ptuj City Theatre "translates historical sediments and weight of the biblical tradition, which envelops the first Slovenian dramatic text, into a modern, pulsating material that actually puts words into flesh."

The jury added that the play "sets the content of the theatrical event into suffering bodies, which present the canonic story in an original stage language," and that its "suggestiveness and intensity leaves a deep imprint into the collective audience body."

Doroteja Nadrah and Blažu Setnikar, who are part of the line-up in the modern interpretation of the the oldest play in Slovenian, received the awards for the best female and male actors at the festival, conferred for the first time this year.

Škofja Loka Passion Play also convinced the audience, which was able to see eight plays in the competition and accompanying programme, as the production received the audience's choice award.

The other three plays that had been selected to be part of the programme of the main festival featuring productions of Slovenian plays, could not be staged due to production difficulties.

"We are in dark, bleak times, but we have opened up and you have come. I would also confer one award to the audience. Come again," director Lorenci said as he addressed the audience at the closing ceremony.

The special award of the Week of Slovenian Drama, which was also conferred for the first time, went to The Game, a migrant-themed play directed by Žiga Divjak and produced by the Slovenian Youth Theatre and the Maska Ljubljana institute.

Based on testimonies from the Border Violence Monitoring Network database, the play earned the award for the social sensitivity of the performance. "The play does not take place in fictional worlds, but speaks about an actual issue."

Jure Novak, the director of the Prešeren Theatre Kranj, noted that the next, 52nd Week of Slovenian Drama, was expected to start, as is tradition, on 27 March, on World Theatre Day.

Website of the Prešeren Theatre Kranj

08 Nov 2021, 10:05 AM

STA, 7 November - A list of Slovenia's top hundred living visual artists has been released by the agency Artindex in a bid to restore trust in the Slovenian art market. Now listed in alphabetical order, the artists will be ranked in a list to be published in June next year.

The first such list has been compiled with the help of 63 Slovenian experts on visual arts, including curators, critics, appraisers, directors of public and private galleries and museums and award-winning artists.

Each of them submitted a selection of 15 best Slovenian living artists. Adding up their votes, Artindex then published the artists in alphabetical order.

The list includes artists of different ages and fields of visual arts, from Nika Autor, Arjan Pregel, Maja Smrekar, the arts collective Irwin and Jasmina Cibic to Marjetica Potrč, Silvester Plotajs Sicoe, Dragan Živadinov, Jože Muhovič to Jakov Brdar and Emerik Bernard.

The final index will be released once data have been collected on the sale of the artists' works. The sum of the works sold will represent a third of the score, while the rest will be based on assessment by experts.

Artindex provides overviews, comparisons and analysis of sales prices of Slovenian visual artists. In cooperation with Artstar, an art certifying and appraising agency, it has set out to tackle anomalies in the Slovenian art market and to make it internationally comparable by 2025.

Damjan Kosec, director of the two agencies and the SLOART gallery and auction house, says art collectors and investors have lost trust in the market as weak legislation has in recent years led to the development of micro markets, which follow various price and sales polices.

The two agencies point to issues such as spread of shadow economy, a lack of transparency in sales prices, tax evasion, high taxes, different prices for comparable works by the same artist or different prices for the same artist at home and abroad, forgeries for forged paperwork.

The flaws make it impossible to track sale of cultural heritage abroad, they say, listing several other problems, including negligence and lack of expertise in appraisals, an absence of national strategy, a poor education system and weak international cooperation.

They would like the state to deal with the legislation and step up oversight to make the art market more transparent. They see the index they have compiled as a step in that direction.

You can see the list here

07 Nov 2021, 10:42 AM

STA, 7 November 2021 - Slovenia will produce 10-15% less wine than last year, mostly due to the Dolenjska wine region being strongly affected by the spring frost. However, wine growers around the country report it has been an above-average year in terms of quality.

The drop in quantity is also attributed to lower yields of certain varieties in the other two wine regions, but not as such as in Dolenjska, where only half of last year's production was achieved, Marjan Colja of the Wine Association of Slovenia has told the STA.

Colja, the director of the wine producer Vina Kras, noted that the production was close to normal in the western region of Primorska, while the Kras area had been affected, not by frost but by wild boars and birds.

Wine growers are nevertheless more concerned about the quality of wine than about reaching records in terms of quantity as competition in the market is fierce and demand has dropped due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Weather conditions were favourable ahead of the harvest, with the sunny and not so cold weather being very useful. Colja noted that wine growers around the country reported that it was an above-average year in terms of quality.

The largest Slovenian winery, P&F Wineries, said that despite the very demanding spring and damage done by the frost, the quality of wine was the best in the last 12 years according to preliminary estimates.

In addition to the lower production, wine growers and wine makers have also been affected by coronavirus restrictions, as public lockdowns resulted in lower sales to hotels and restaurants.

Another blow comes as the majority of celebrations of St. Martin's Day around Slovenia have been cancelled due to growing infection numbers, including the largest event in Maribor. "The closures certainly bring nothing good," Colja said.

According to him, some wine cellars decided to distil excess wine, which is being supported by the state. "However blasphemous this may seem to a wine maker, it is still better to make something useful ... than sell at dumping prices."

Colja added that the major winery companies had been generous this year to grape producers and had been ready to raise the purchase prices of grapes, which he believes was the right decision.

While it is not easy to sell wine either in Slovenia or abroad, he noted that exports were still a problem, in particular to the Chinese market, the reason being that there are fewer fairs and opportunities for promotion due to the pandemic.

Colja said that the state had the key role in promoting export activity, and that wine makers were perhaps subjected to too many restrictions. "Many prefer not to use state funds because they don't want to have administrative problems."

According to the Agriculture Ministry, between 80 and 90 million litres of wine is produced in Slovenia annually by more than 2,500 registered wineries that bottle their own wine. Eleven producers make more than half a million litres a year.

The ministry has told the STA that experts of the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry had estimated that this year's production will amount to around 55 million litres of wine.

Vineyards in Slovenia are located on steep slopes, which means very expensive production, but also good quality, with quality wines representing as much as 70% of total output.

The total land area covered by vineyards has not changed significantly in recent decades. It was increasing until 1996, after which it started to decline slightly. Compared to 2010, the land area covered by vineyards today is 5% smaller.

Last year, the average price of wine with the Slovenian geographic origin sold in Slovenia and in the EU markets was down for all categories of wine compared to 2019, while sales were up by 6%, with sales of wine for distillation included.

Slovenia mostly imports wine from North Macedonia, Italy, Germany and Hungary, while it exports its quality wines to Germany, Croatia, the US, the Netherlands, Bosnia-Herzegovina and, in recent years, to the Czech Republic.

28 Oct 2021, 07:54 AM

STA, 27 October 2021 - This year's Jenko Prize, Slovenia's top accolade for the best poetry collection in the past two years, was awarded to Nina Dragičević for her latest poetry collection To Telo, Pokončno (This Body, Upright), which has been praised as a book that is definitely needed at this moment in time.

This comes after Dragičević was nominated for the prize two years ago for her collection Ljubav Reče Greva (Love Says Let's Go).

Her latest work, which was published by independent publisher ŠKUC in 2021, is in many ways a sequel to Love Says Let's Go that focuses on the body and its multifaceted nature, including experiences, future possibilities and other factors that define it, said the jury.

"The subject opens up through the body in the poem and lets all these multitudes speak until the brink of exhaustion."

Dragičević's style is extremely personal and special due to a mix of various registers and helps convey a number of transformations, such as euphoria, silence in between, pain, joy and impulsiveness.

This Body, Upright is "a sort of poetic composition of our time and place that hides nothing, it throws everything in your face and convinces you with joyful rage".

Dragičević, born in 1984, is a poet, author, composer and sound artist. She holds a PhD in sociology.

The prize, which is handed out by the Slovenian Writers' Association, was presented to her in Kranj on Wednesday evening. Last year's winner Brane Mozetič also received his prize tonight as the ceremony was cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19.

27 Oct 2021, 14:36 PM

STA, 27 October 2021 - A retrospective of Slovenian films made between 1956 and 2020 will be screened in China for the first time between 28 October and 4 November. All six feature films will have Chinese and English subtitles. The retrospective will open at the China Film Archive in Beijing, and the films will be screened in major Chinese cities afterwards.

The retrospective will open on Thursday with the digitalised and restored version of the 1956 film Valley of Peace by France Štiglic, which was presented at the Cannes international film festival in 2016 and then screened at various festivals and cinematheques around the world.

According to the Slovenian Film Centre, the event will be addressed by the head of the China Film Archive, Sun Xianghui, Slovenian Ambassador Alenka Suhadolnik, Wang Yao, a professor at the Beijing Film Academy, and the head of the Slovenian Film Centre, Nataša Bučar via video link.

On Friday, visitors will be able to watch the digital and restored version of Matjaž Klopčič's 1969 film Funeral Feast, and on Saturday Urša Menart's first film My Last Year As a Loser from 2018 will be on. The film won the Vesna Awards for the best feature film, screenplay and supporting actress at the Festival of Slovenian Film in Portorož.

On Sunday a teen romantic comedy Gaja's World by Peter Bratuša from 2018 will be screened. The 2018 box-office hit won the main prize for international feature films for children and youth at the Buzz@teen in Motovun, and was declared the best film by a children's jury at the 24th film festival in Sarajevo. It has also received three Golden Rolls for 75,000 viewers.

The retrospective will continue on 3 November with the 2019 film by Martin Turk Don't Forget to Breathe, which also won the Vesna award for best feature film at the film festival in Portorož. The sixth film to be screened will be Sanremo by Miroslav Mandić. The 2020 film about old age and dementia is Slovenia's entry for a nomination for the best international feature film award at the Oscars 2022.

The retrospective has been organised by the Slovenian Film Centre in cooperation with the Slovenian Embassy in China and the China Film Archive.

18 Oct 2021, 12:24 PM

STA, 18 October 2021 - This year's Vesna Award for best feature film went to Prasica, Slabšalni Izraz za Žensko (Bitch, a Derogatory Term for a Woman), a debut by Tijana Zinajić, as the Festival of Slovenian Film wrapped up in the coastal town of Portorož on Sunday evening with the conferring of what are considered Slovenian Oscars.

The film bursts with fresh energy, life and affection towards its characters, said the jury, adding that the film did not play the card of European art cinema minimalism.

Bitch, a Derogatory Term for a Woman tells the story of Eva, a millennial who is stuck in life and seeks to change her ways.

The film also received the Vesna for best screenplay, which went to up-and-coming screenwriter Iza Strehar, best actress (Liza Marijina), best supporting actress (Anuša Kodelja), production design (Neža Zinajić), and costume design (Matic Hrovat).

The audience honoured it with the Vesna Audience Choice Award.

The Vesna for best director was meanwhile awarded to Darko Sinko for Inventura (Inventory), another debut that at first glance seems low-key and restrained "but every minute of it is thoughtfully orchestrated".

Inventory's Radoš Bolčina won the Vesna for best actor and Dejan Spasić the Vesna for best supporting actor. The film also received the Vesna for best original score (Matija Krečič). Moreover, the award for best debut feat went to Sinko.

The Vesna for best documentary was conferred on Odpuščanje (Reconciliation) by Marija Zidar about the aftermath of an escalation in a family feud in the Albanian highlands, a film which also won a special award for best Slovenian feature-length film in the competition section by the FIPRESCI association of film critics.

The Vesna for best short went to Sestre (Sisters) by Kukla, the winner of this year's top prize at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, the biggest international film festival dedicated to shorts.

It was an evening of victories for female directors last night as Špela Čadež joined the winners by receiving the Vesna for best animated film for Steakhouse.

The 24th festival also honoured innovator and film sound engineer Emilija Soklič, this year's winner of the Badjura Award for lifetime achievement in cinema.

A total of 84 films were screened, including more than 50 in the competition programme, which featured ten Slovenian feature films and nine minority co-productions.

13 Oct 2021, 10:36 AM

STA, 13 October 2021 - Products developed by nine Slovenian companies, including foldable skis, a special steel, and cutting-edge valves, have been declared top innovations as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) honoured the country's best innovators.

Castoola won the award for a platform for targeted TV advertising, sports equipment maker Elan for Voyager foldable skis, and the winery Radgonske Gorice for the first sparkling wine produced and drank in the dark.

A novel regulation valve brought the honours to valve producer Danfoss Trata, electric motor maker Domel developed and commercialised a new type of motor, and industrial conglomerate Hidria devised a new type of electronic ventilator.

Electronics maker Red Pitaya received the award for a new type of device for data capture and processing, cleaning technology developer Iskra Pio for a decontamination system, and steelworks Metal Ravne for a new type of steel with better electrical conductivity.

The Occupational Activity Centre Zasavje won a special commendation for a project called Building an Inclusive, Innovative and Connected Zasavje, which was also the innovation of the year as selected by the public.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told the awards ceremony on Tuesday evening that the innovators were the flag-bearers in the transition from the "commercialisation of brawn to commercialisation of brain".

"The only way to achieve a successful transition to a more advanced economy is to fly on the wings of innovation. This is a key factor of corporate success," according to Počivalšek.

12 Oct 2021, 11:24 AM

STA, 12 October 2021 - The 24th Festival of Slovenian Film will open in the coastal town of Portorož on Tuesday with the screening of Inventura, a film by Darko Sink. Until Sunday, a total of 54 films will compete for the festival's awards.

Inventura, which premiered at the San Sebastian film festival, is a story of a man whose illusions of the world come crumbling down. "The irony and force of this collapse can be compared to the present, when it is no longer clear what is true and what is 'fake'," Sink said about his first film.

Before the screening, an exhibition will open dedicated to this year's winner of the Badjura Award for lifetime achievements in film, innovator and film sound engineer, Emilija Soklič, one of the first Slovenian professional female film industry workers.

New to the festival is the title Friend of Slovenian Cinema, which has been given to the honorary guest of the festival, Serbian director Slobodan Šijan, author of several films poplar in Slovenia. Šijan will present his new book Writers at the Cinema.

Ten Slovenian films will be in the running for the festival's awards, including four documentaries.

Tijana Zinajić's first film Bitch, a Derogatory Term for a Woman is a film about a period in life when "where you simply get stuck and do not know how to move on". Amoeba by Blaž Završnik is a collaboration with the group Matter, a film that problematises the course of development of modern society.

Established directors Goran Vojnović and Miroslav Mandić will be presented with Once Were Humans and Sanremo, respectively.

Vinko Möderndorfer's Deadlock, a film about an encounter between two married couples from the opposite ends of the social scale, which are brought together by an accident and a tragic event, will be screened for the first time.

Nika Autor will present the story of migrant workers in a documentary Newsreel 80 - Metka, Meki, and Jurij Gruden the story of the company Iskra Delta.

Marija Zidar's Reconciliation is a documentary about the patriarchal society, and Igor Šterk's September Class about a generation from the entire former Yugoslavia that served the army on the Croatian island of Vis before the break-up of Yugoslavia.

A record of nine minority co-production feature films will also be screened, including Morena by Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović, and Heavens Above by Serbian director Srdjan Dragojević.

A total of 21 medium-length and short films will be presented in different sections, including award-winning Granny's Sexual Life, a short animated documentary by Urška Djukić and Amelie Pigeard, Penalty Shot by Rok Biček and Sisters by Kukla.

A dozen films will compete in the category of students' films.

Visit the website to learn more or follow on Facebook

02 Oct 2021, 09:24 AM

STA, 1 October 2021 - The Laboratory for Gravitational Physiology was inaugurated on Friday at the Planica Nordic Centre in cooperation with the European Space Agency, the ministries of science and the economy and the Jožef Stefan Institute. The laboratory will contribute to research to maintain the well-being of astronauts during missions to space. 

The agreement on starting a joint operation was signed at Friday's ceremony by European Space Agency (ESA) director general Josef Ascbacher, Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) director Boštjan Zalar, and Planica Nordic Centre director Franci Petek.

In his address, Aschbacher said the ESA was very happy to add to its programme the Planica Nordic Centre, which has a unique capacity to research hypoxemia, a shortage of oxygen supply in blood.

Future space missions are likely to be hypoxic, allowing for lighter structures or reducing the risk of decompression sickness during exits and surface operations, he said, adding that the results of the bed rest study can be used to prepare for human spaceflight and will be of great help in preparing for future missions.

The ESA director lauded all the partners that contributed to the implementation of the project and called on government officials to consider a further increase in Slovenia's contribution to the ESA's activities.

The official then attended a bilateral meeting with Education Minister Simona Kustec and State Secretary at the Economy Ministry Simon Zajc, who were also present at the ceremony and who both hailed the realisation of cooperation.

The ESA director praised Slovenia's work and its cooperation with the ESA as an associate member country on its way to full membership. He also underlined the good performance of Slovenian companies and the importance of Friday's opening of the new facilities in Planica.

The opening of the Laboratory for Gravitational Physiology and the launch of the "human centrifuge" in Planica will enable the possibility of breakthrough international and interdisciplinary research in space physiology and medicine, the IJS said.

Addressing the launch, IJS director Zalar noted the opportunities opened up by the laboratory and great plans for future cooperation with the ESA, where the institute is to have full support from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology.

Being quite remote, Planica makes an optimal place for such research because there are not many factors that could interfere with the measurements, Zalar said, noting vibrations, climate and air quality.

The establishment of the new laboratory is largely the result of 20 years of work by researchers from the IJS Department of Automation, Biocybernetics and Robotics, led by Igor Mekjavič.

After first experimental research two decades ago, an altitude room was established in 2007 in a hotel in Planica and in 2010 Slovenia signed a cooperation agreement with the ESA.

Only a year later, IJS researchers received special support from the ESA for their research of how hypoxemia affects processes of adaptation to zero-gravity and in 2016 Slovenia signed an association agreement that allowed the country to take part in select ESA programmes.

In support of research at the Planica lab and to encourage new research institutions and industry in the space sector, Slovenia in 2019 opted to take part in the ESA programme of human and robotic research with a financial contribution of EUR 2 million.

The "human centrifuge" at the laboratory, which combines medical research and microgravity simulation, will be only the third such facility in Europe, alongside those in Germany and France.

This operation will attract Slovenian and foreign scientists and increase the presence of Slovenian expertise in space exploration, said the IJS.

The Education, Science and Sport Ministry added that the new laboratory will be important both for space expeditions and for people on Earth, as the research programme will also contribute to findings relevant for lung and heart patients, overweight people and patients with osteoporosis.

29 Sep 2021, 12:45 PM

STA, 29 September 2021 - A Slovenian sports aficionado has come up with a new hybrid sport, a mix between tennis, golf and footgolf that he calls tennigolf. The game is played on a golf course with a racket and a tennis ball, while the target is a footgolf hole half a metre in diameter.

"Tennigolf is a new sport that nobody in the world has registered or patented," Aleksander Kravanja, the inventor of the sport and owner of the Bovec Golf Course, said at the sport's world premiere yesterday.

The Bovec Golf Course has been offering footgolf for a several years now and has even hosted an international competition and national championships in the increasingly popular sport.

According to Kravanja, tennigolf is more accessible than golf, which requires a lot of skill, or footgolf, which requires between three and five kicks of a football for a single hole.

Bovec is currently the only place where it can be played, but next year the plan is to introduce it at several more courses across Slovenia.

In the coming weeks, the new sport will also get more precise rules and a handicap system.

There are quite a few hybrids between golf and other sports. Disc golf is particularly popular and players have five courses available in Slovenia.

Footgolf is much more recent but has exploded in popularity, with an estimated 120,000 active players worldwide at the moment.

Kravanja, 51, took a liking to footgolf several years ago.

"I started with golf and then I realised that other activities can be performed on a golf course. I tried footgolf and I realised people were enthralled with the sport... I'm sure tennigolf will thrive as well and in the future we'll be able to say that Bovec is the homeland of tennigolf," he said.

Visit the Bovec Golf Course

27 Sep 2021, 14:00 PM

STA, 27 September 2021 - The 13th Sonica festival of contemporary electronic music and transitory art, taking place in eight venues in Ljubljana from Monday, will explore "invisible forces that surround and emanate from our bodies, interact with our environment, with each other and with the many entities we are composed of."

This year's theme, Labyrinth Gives Way to Skin, refers to the title of a composition by Maryanne Amacher, created for the dance company of the choreographer Merce Cunningham, according to the organiser, the Museum of Transitory Art.

The festival will feature five concert nights, a performance, a film screening, a programme of round table debates and lectures and the opening exhibition in MSUM+ by Finnish artist Tuomas A. Laitinen.

Some of the highlights include the screening of The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye, a portrait of the influential transgender musician and performance artist Genesis P-Orridge, and a performance by Shackleton, the English producer and performer of electronica.

The final day of the festival on 2 October will be organised in cooperation with the City of Women festival and will be marked by "alchemist female mystique" with a performance by Aisha Devi in collaboration with Jessika Khazrik and Kezz.

See more at the Sonica website or follow on Facebook

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