Female gaze at Bratislava IFF

The curators of the section Lexicon: Female gaze, festival programmer Tomáš Hudák and the director of this year’s festival spot Ivana Hucíková, have focused on the status of women in cinema, their portrayal in film, and the uniqueness of a woman’s experience.


The topic also served as inspiration for the festival spot. The half-minute video is a montage of films directed mainly by women filmmakers. Their protagonists are women of different colour, appearance, age, and character in various life situations. In the background, we can hear the voice of the musician Katarzia, who’s asking: “Do you think we can’t change anything, because we’re just women?”, a lyric excerpt from the song Dolls Are Killing Each Other, found on her new album Antigona, on which Katarzia (Katarína Kubošiová) cooperated with Pjoni (Jonatán Pastirčák).


“The past year has been – not only in the cinema – the year of #MeToo, and that is part of why we’ve decided to reflect on the status of women in society and cinema. We have chosen the topic of female gaze as opposed to the male gaze, identified by the film theorist Laura Mulvey. In the section we give space to women authors, we try to bring attention to the female experience, which is – in film as well as the society – often overlooked, reflect on how women were and are depicted in film and remind that there is no such thing as male and female genres,” say the curators. “It is, however, not just about this one section. Five out of the eight films in the Fiction Competition have been shot by female directors and even other sections will present films disrupting the male gaze hegemony ”


One of these is a debut by the Cypriot director, screenwriter and producer Tonie Mishiali Pause (Pafsi, 2018). The story draws us into the monotonous life of a not so happily married Elpida (Greek for hope), a middle-aged woman living in a patriarchal, conservative-oriented society with a despotic husband. Beau travail (1999) is a work of the French director Claire Denis, inspired by Herman Melville’s novel Billy Budd, Sailor. The story centres around Sergeant Galoup, who is trying to destroy his subordinate Gilles Sentain. Through the main storyline, the director reveals her idea about the life of soldiers. The female gaze is amplified by Denis’ long-time director of photography Agnès Godard, presenting the images of male strength and beauty, but also their weakness. A sexist view of women and their depiction in film is reflected in Diego Galán’s documentary film Barefoot in the Kitchen (Con la pata quebrada, 2013). The Spanish director captures the often funny, but also tearfully stereotypical scenes from selected Spanish films made from 1930s up to now.

Dear film fans and supporters of the art of cinema, dear festival visitors, colleagues and friends, With great regret, we must report that the Bratislava International Film Festival will not be held in 2019. Believe us, we were the last ones to want to make this decision, but at the same time, we wanted to
be the first to announce it.

Based on votes cast by the visitors, the Bratislava IFF Viewers’ Choice Award went to Wanuri Kahiu’s second feature film Rafiki (2018) about forbidden love in Kenya.

Awards of the 20th Bratislava IFF 2018

“If you’re lucky enough to make living of something you really love, there is a downside – you don’t do it for fun, it’s a job.”


Tomáš Hudák. He studied Film studies (criticism) at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (VŠMU). He’s a fan of film, music, literature and the art as such. He’s a freelancer, writing film reviews and co-organizing several Slovakian film festivals.

“It’s nice to step out from the bubble of social networks – the binary world of likes/unlikes to be part of the group of totally different people, who are connected only by the skateboards.”


Šimon Šafránek. – director, journalist, DJ – multi-genre artist with the sensation of music and word. He’s a freelancer, writing for the Denník N, Hospodářské noviny, Reflex, Magnus etc.

“Films make us better, braver, more romantic and free”


Bibiana Ondrejková. A popular theatre and voice actress and presenter. The general public knows her as the Slovak voice of Phoebe Buffay from the TV show Friends. Upon seeing her, viewers will associate her with the Slovak TV series The Defenders (2014), Red Widow (2014), Homicide Old Town (2010) or Block of Flats (2008).

“Actors infuse film with emotion and give it a soul”

Daniel Rihák. A fresh graduate of film directing at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the leadership of prof. Martin Šulík. A director of (so far) student films and a number of commercials. His graduation film The Trip recently won the Best Director and Best Sound awards at the Áčko Student Film Festival.

“All women have the power to change things”


Ivana Hucíková belongs to the generation of young Slovak filmmakers. She studied at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, from which she graduated in 2015 with her film Mothers and Daughters. A Bratislava citizen from Orava, living and creating in Slovakia and the USA. So far, she has made several short documentary films: Into My Life (2018), Connie & Corey (2017) and is currently working on the development of several film projects as their director, producer or editor.

“Cinema is a great medium for sharing common European values”


Dominika Jarečná was born in 1999 in Bratislava. She currently studies Theory and History of Arts at the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno (Czech Republic). She was a member of the Giornate degli Autori jury at this year’s Venice IFF and is a LUX Prize ambassador for the years 2018 and 2019.

Film festival: “It’s a bit like a vacation full of stories”

Alena Sabuchová is a young Slovak author and screenwriter. For her debut collection of short stories Back rooms, Alena was awarded the Ivan Krasko Prize for the best Slovak-language debut as well as the Tatra banka Foundation Young Artist Award in the category of literature. She writes scripts for television and radio, and is currently working on her second book, which will be published next year.

“These films were among the most awarded debut films at this year’s leading festivals”


Nenad Dukić. Serbian film critic, who has been collaborating with the team of people preparing The Bratislava International Film Festival for 8 years now. This year (the 20th anniversary of the festival’s existence), he is again the compiler of the Fiction Competition and co-compiler of the section Cinema Now.

The popular section Cinema Now brings an overview of the most remarkable films of the season. Its curators, Nenad Dukid and Tomáš Hudák, have assembled the most interesting movies that have stirred the waters of world’s major festivals. For 20 years, the Bratislava IFF has been supplying the Slovak film public with names, which often become stars of the screen.