Being the most frequented film exhibition in the country, the Art Film Fest International Film Festival ranks among Slovakia's most significant cultural events, with a growing international reputation. It provides space for not only the latest works of world cinema, but also for significant titles from the history of film, balanced by an extensive presentation of Slovak audiovisual art.
The festival's main goals are to present quality films that resonate throughout the world, to introduce Slovak audiences to films awarded at prestigious film festivals, to provide a forum for members of the film industry, to welcome guests from the silver screen and filmmakers and to promote Slovak cinematography.
Art Film Fest was established in 1993 as the first international film festival of its kind in Slovakia. It was originally aimed at presenting exclusively 'art films', hence the festival's original name, Art Film. During its seventeen-year history, the festival has undergone several reorganizations and has grown noticeably in size. Despite also including some works from mainstream Hollywood production each year, the programme department today still clearly centres on non-commercial, independently made films which focus on developing ideas or exploring new narrative techniques or the outer limits of filmmaking conventions.
Each year in its festival cinemas, Art Film Fest presents films introduced at prestigious international film festivals such as Berlin, Cannes, Venice and Locarno. In this way, the festival gives its audience the opportunity to see outstanding works of cinema that are usually absent from the distribution channels of mainstream Slovak cinema.
Concerning the programme, each year Art Film Fest screens a representative sample of feature, documentary, television and animated films most relevant to today’s world. The festival offers two main competitions. The centrepiece of the festival is the International Competition of Feature Films (films over 60 minutes in length) for a director’s first, second or third feature film. The winning feature-length film in this main competition category gets the prestigious Blue Angel Award together with a monetary prize.
The week long festival, as the name implies, focuses on cinematic works that embrace artistic elements. Although this may seem a broad definition, the films screened usually incorporate avant-garde and experimental methods. Not only unique in their method, the films usually focus on esoteric subjects that challenge contemporary conceptions of art. You won't find any Hollywood "wanna-be" films in the numerous theatres and screening rooms around the Spa town that hosts this event. The past jury selection members have included internationally renown directors and actors. Besides the great movies that are screened, make sure you indulge yourself in the soothing mineral springs that date from the Ottoman conquest, the therapeutic massages offered at the many resorts or just the idyllic scenery that surrounds this mountainous region of North-Western Slovakia.