Seeing films in Ljubjlana


IMG_2339.jpgWe had some trouble seeing films in Ljubjlana. We visited the Kinoteka, the exhibition venue for the Slovenian Cinémathèque but that was closed for the Summer, a loss to us, as the remnant of the previous programming we saw was very exciting. We looked at what was on offer in mainstream cinemas and were enticed by some offerings: the new Ant Man film seemed to be on release there and still to arrive in England. However, all the screenings were in Slovenian, sub-titled films were only on offer on Tuesdays and we would be off on the rest of our travels before then. There did seem to be a thriving film culture, with a video store advertising all the latest releases, including a wide array of art house (see above).

Lucky for us we chanced on the open air screening of Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul, winner of this year’s Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear, and in its original Hungarian but with English sub-titles at Ljubjlana Castle, a most romantic and appropriate venue for the movie, as you can see from the little bit I filmed (above), taken from perspective of the park in the city centre, which was hosting a dance show (thus the accompanying music).


One can walk up to the castle or take a cable-car up. The price of the film and the cable-car is around seven euros, very reasonable, and offers extraordinary views of Ljubjlana (see above).

Once you arrive at the Castle-keep, there’s a large screen at the centre with hundreds of fold-out seats, and tables at the back where one can order drinks, sit back and watch the film above. It’s a lovely way of seeing films in Summer (see below).

It was delightful to be up high in the open air, sip cocktails, and watch an audience riveted by a demanding film such as On Body and Soul. The film is set in an abattoir, with lots of quite frank and rather brutal butcherings of animals; the camera often links the cows in the abattoir to the people who are butchering them and who are also in some ways imprisoned by the demands of their work-place;  ethical questions are raised about what the workers feel and whether they pity the animals such a fate; there’s a lot of sexual shenanigans going on; who’s cheating on whom, who’s sleeping with whom; who has sexual power when and how that power is gendered. But the focus is on Endre (Géza Morcsányi) the soft-spoken director with a cool head and useless arm who seems to have given up on love and the slaughterhouse’s new safety inspector, Mária (Alexandra Borbély) an obsessive compulsive on the autism scale who has an aversion to touch.

IMG_2343They meet only in their dreams, which they share and where they take on the form of a buck and a doe. The beautiful animals in a snowy pastoral setting are contrasted with the brutal carnal fate of the cows. Endre and Mária share a dream life as beautiful animals in a snowy pastoral setting and a work-life in space designed to profit out of filling. Can they reconcile or surmount dream and waking lives? It’s a beautiful film; and Ljubjlana Castle was a beautiful place to see it in.


The venue and the film did raise questions for me about the increasing embourgeoisement of at least one kind of cinematic culture which I’ll have to give some more thought to.

José Arroyo


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