When a Documentary Isn't: Slovenian Non-Fiction Films
Slovenian documentary films are at their best when they do not appear to be documentaries. When we imagine documentaries, we tend to think of the History or Travel Channel variety. That’s the type that I occasionally appear in and have also helped to write and produce, so I have a sense of both what it is like to be in front of the camera and behind it, as well as what it is like to be a viewer. These tend to feature talking heads of experts on the topic at hand, who are filmed with a soft-focus background of bookshelves, as they tell a narrative and artificially-enthusiastic version of the events and offer insight and context. Then there is archival footage, or Ken Burns-style scanning over old photographs, and possibly a presenter striding through key locations and talking to the camera. That is documentary for television.
Documentary feature films of the sort that would screen at festivals and in theaters are of a different variety. One of the latest releases is technically a biopic about Vlado Kreslin, Slovenia’s almost legendary folk-rock musician, who is beloved of teenagers and great-grandparents and who has a sterling career that spans many decades. I am fortunate enough to call him a friend – he even performed at my wedding – and I also nearly wrote the script for a documentary about his career. That was several years ago and eventually funding was not secured for it, so he went to different direction. The end result, directed by Miran Zupanič, premiered in December at the city cinema of Ljubljana, Kinodvor. It is wonderful and could not be improved upon.
One of the key features is that it did not look like a documentary...
Catch the rest of this article of mine where it was first published, in Film International Magazine.