Winning Films from Festivals in Venice, Cannes, Toronto and San Sebastian in Slovak Premieres at Bratislava IFF


The Cinema Now section will present some of the most notable films of this year’s festival season. The retro fantasy The Shape of Water (2017) directedy by Guillermo del Toro, the black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) directed by Martin McDonagh and the family drama April’s Daughter (Las hijas de Abril, 2017) directedy by Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco.

The Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro is regarded as one of the most original directors in the contemporary Hollywood. His most acclaimed works include the magic realism fantasy film Pan’s Labyrinth (El laberinto del fauno, 2006) and two lavish treatments of the comic book phenomenon Hellboy. His latest film The Shape of Water (2017) was crowned with the Golden Lion for Best Film, the top prize of the Venice Film Festival, and is one of the hottest candidates for the Academy Awards. Once again, Del Toro is balancing on genre borders bringing a sci-fi set in the past, specifically in the paranoid historical period of the Cold War. At the same time, he pays tribute to the 50s and 60s American monster film, particularly referring to the famous Creature from the Black Lagoon. The Shape of Water is a mixture of political thriller, horror and melodrama. Thanks to del Toro’s unique imagination, the universal story of David’s battle with Goliath and the forbidden love between the Beauty and the Beast, this genre mix comes across as consistent. The result is a unique emotional experience that will intrigue light as well as demanding viewers. The story of the film is set in 1963, in the midst of the Cold War. The main character, a maid called Elisa, works in a secret government laboratory, where authorities are holding captive their secret classified experiment – a fish-man of unknown origin. Using sign language, Elise manages to make contact with him. Gradually the two fall in love, which drives Elise to pursue her dangerous plan of setting him free. The main roles will sparkle with such big names as Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer.


Another Venetian premiere with no less of a successful festival career is the black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017), written by the Oscar-winning screenwriter, director and distinguished playwright Martin McDonagh. The film was awarded Best Screenplay prize in Venice and received audience awards at festivals in Toronto and San Sebastian. Martin McDonagh is particularly famous for his black humour, grotesque depictions of violence, brilliant antihero characters and pop-culture references. His first feature film In Bruges (2008) won The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. In the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri the director joined forces with such flm stars as Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. The main heroine, Mildred Hayes, is a mother whose daughter was murdered a few months ago. As waiting for the murderer’s capture proves fruitless, she decides to decorate the city entrance with three billboards, bearing uncompromising messages for the local venerable sheriff William Willoughby. When an immature and violent police officer Dixon gets involved in the conflict, the war can begin.


Another festival laurel-crowned film is Michel Franco’s April’s Daughter (Las hijas de Abril, 2017). The film received the Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section in Cannes and its world premiere met with fantastic response from the critics. Michel Franco has long been a favourite of this most important world film festival. In the year 2015, he received the Best Screenplay Award for the drama Chronic and in 2012 he won the Un Certain Regard competition with the film After Lucia (Después de Lucía, 2012). The family drama April’s Daughter tells the story of a young pregnant Valerie, living with her half-sister Clara. She’s expecting the child with her somewhat older boyfriend, but financial problems compel her to ask her mother April for help. Their family situation is far from ideal and April becomes convinced that Valeria is just not fit to be a mother. Therefore, she opts for a drastic solution. Once again, Michel Franco has shot a powerful psychological drama about tense relationships and characters that all of a sudden find themselves hard up and helpless. The main role of April is played by the fantastic Spanish actress Emma Suárez, whose talent could also be witnessed in Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film Julieta (2016).



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.

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.