The Slovenian Cinematheque

The Slovenian Cinematheque was established on August 1, 1996 by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia with the act that separated the National Theatre and Film Museum (in existence since 1978) into two public institutes: the Slovenian Theatre Institute and the Slovenian Cinematheque.

The activities of the Slovenian Cinematheque are carried out by four departments: the programme, archive, museum and the research and publishing department, which also takes care of the library and the mediatheque. In addition to these activities, the Cinematheque also publishes the film magazine Ekran.

The forming of the Cinematheque as an autonomous cultural institution has a history of its own. In a 1988 issue of Ekran magazine, which marked the 25th anniversary of the operation of Cinematheque’s hall in Ljubljana, Silvan Furlan argued that “only cinematheques can speak adequately” about film and provide essential answers about the complex medium. “Slovenia still lacks a ‘real’ cinematheque”, he added, “one that is yet to be established. For without a national—that is, modern—museum of cinema, Slovenian culture will remain impoverished.”

In 1992, Furlan again addressed the matter in Ekran: “At the present time, the particularly painful fact is that Slovenia lacks a cinematheque—in other words, a fund of important films from around the world. This lack means not only that culture as such is impaired, but that education and research of film history are impaired as well, both theoretically and practically. Any reflection and creative charge in the present can only be founded on the historical knowledge of an art form. This is equally true for film.”

In the same year, Silvan Furlan and Zoran Pistotnik wrote the “Draft of the Organisational Model of Cinematography in the Republic of Slovenia”, in which they emphasised the necessity of addressing the shortfall. The future Cinematheque, as their “Draft” envisioned, was to be founded by bringing together the existing activities of the Film Museum (at that time a part of the Slovenian National Theatre and Film Museum), the ongoing screenings in Cinematheque’s hall (carried out by the capital’s chief distributing company Ljubljanski kinematografi), and the assignments of the film department at the Archives of the Republic of Slovenia. Lastly, the act that established the Cinematheque in 1996 was modelled on a document elaborating the institutionalisation of cinematheque activities in Slovenia, authored the previous year by Silvan Furlan, Lili Nedić, Vlado Škafar and Denis Valič.

In 1998, Slovenian Cinematheque became an associated member of FIAF (The International Federation of Film Archives) and assumed full membership in 2012. In this period, the Cinematheque can also claim credit for establishing Ljubljana’s art cinema Kinodvor in 2003; facilitating the founding of the IsolaCinema and Grossman film festivals in Izola and Ljutomer; and for setting in motion the Art Cinema Network of Slovenia. Since then, these institutions have developed autonomously and successfully.

On the other hand, since its establishment the Slovenian Cinematheque has faced—and still faces today—difficulties in offering stable employment opportunities, dilemmas of technological upgrade and digital transition, as well as problems of securing adequate work and storage facilities facilities.

Nonetheless, the Slovenian Cinematheque is proactive both locally and internationally, thus contributing to the international cultural profile of the Republic of Slovenia. Members of Cinematheque’s staff and collaborators teach at universities and carry out various educational programmes home and abroad, cooperate in projecting the future of film education in Slovenia’s schools, and participate in numerous other activities.

In 2016 Slovenian Ministry of Culture purchased new capacities for the purposes of Slovenian Cinematheque. This investment marks an important historical moment and a big step towards realizing one of our long-term goals – to merge the now dispersed capacities around one main centre, near the programme department and our cinema at Miklošičeva street, both of which represent the symbolic heart of cinematheque activities since the very beginning.

With this, the Slovenian Cinematheque will be able to perform its cultural and educational mission in a more comprehensive way and establish lasting conditions for a dynamic film culture of the future.

Ivan Nedoh,
director of the Slovenian Cinematheque