No Man's Land wins at Cannes
Danis Tanovic's No Man's Land, filmed in Slovenia and produced with Slovene participation, won the award for best screenplay at the 54th Film Festival in Cannes last weekend. The film was shot in Slovenia last year and features several Slovene actors including Branko Đuric-Đuro.
The local press registered its disappointment with the fact that in Cannes, the film was billed as a "Bosnian-Belgian" co-production, even though Slovenia and several other countries were actually co-producers.
This is the third film with Slovene participation to receive international acclaim recently. Last year, Hop, Skip & Jump, a co-production with Bosnia, won a Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Samotarji, a Slovene-Czech co-production, has become a major hit on the international festival circuit, garnering several awards.
No Man's Land will premier in Slovenia in November at the Ljubljana Film Festival.
A mosque for Ljubljana?
For more than a decade, Muslim groups in the capital have wanted to build a Muslim cultural center, including a mosque, in the capital. A proposal to locate the center in the Vič district survived its first reading by the city council this week, but even though the head of the city's Department of Urbanism, Igor Jurančič, supports the plan, there is no reason to be hopeful that it will be approved.
Members of the city council have resisted the idea for years, and have pulled out all the stops in their arguments. One councilman quoted in Dnevnik this week said that the cultural center will create a Muslim ghetto in the capital. Another said that building a mosque in Ljubljana will "insult the religious feelings of Slovenes." Others warned of the spread of Islam throughout Europe.
City councilmen are not alone in opposing the idea. Residents of Ljubljana have been sending letters of protest to the city council, and a petition against the cultural center is being prepared.
The Imam of Ljubljana, Vahid Brdar, told Dnevnik that Muslim community envisions the center as having not only a mosque, but also a library, a classroom for religious instruction, a café, a restaurant, a shop and other facilities. The center would act as a central institution for Slovenia's Muslim community, which numbers several tens of thousands.
However hopeless the situation may seem, Imam Brdar remains unfazed. As he told Dnevnik: "We are also citizens of Slovenia, and this building is our right."
Twentieth anniversary of Triglav National Park
This week marked the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Triglav National Park (TNP), the only such preserve in the country. The TNP covers 84 hectares of the Julian Alps, or about four per cent of the total territory of Slovenia. The park includes the country's largest lake, Lake Bohinj, but its centerpiece is Mount Triglav, one of the Slovenes' national symbols.
The park's land is remarkably well preserved. The valleys between the foothills of the Julian Alps were too narrow for settlement, and so even before the area was declared a national park there was never much activity aside from mountain climbing. The first facilities for mountain climbers in the area date back to the end of the 19th century.
The country also maintains two regional parks, Kozjanski Park and the Škocjancke Caves, and four local parks. Together with the TNP, they represent about eight per cent of the country's territory.
A national plan of action was adopted in 1999 to increase the amount of protected land by 2006, and the first results are expected soon. Earlier this month, parliament approved a plan for the establishment of new regional and local parks. Five new local parks and seven regional parks are in preparation.
The plan would bring the total amount of protected land up to about 30 per cent, putting Slovenia ahead of most of the world's countries.
Czech Prime Minister in Slovenia
The prime minister of the Czech Republic, Miloš Zeman, made a two-day visit to Slovenia this week, with stops in Ljubljana and Krško. Zeman met with Prime Minister Drnovšek and President Kučan, as well as the ministers of finance and the economy and the foreign minister on Thursday in the capital. Talks centered on Czech-Slovene relations and the two countries' preparations for European Union accession.
On Friday, Zeman made his way to Krško to visit the Vipap Videm paper factory and the city's nuclear power plant. Austria is as wary of the Krško nuclear plant as it as of the Czech Republic's Temelín.
Just before Zeman arrived in Slovenia, representatives of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia met in Prague on Wednesday to discuss their latest experiences with the European Union accession process. Aside from comparing notes on chapters of the acquises, all agreed that the EU must establish a timetable for enlargement as soon as possible.
And in other news...
- The work of Franc Juri, a political cartoonist for the daily Dnevnik, is featured in a one-man exhibit at a gallery in Ljubljana. Mayor Viktorija Potočnik presided over the opening reception, and many politicians and prominent figures caricatured by Juri attended. The exhibit was timed with the release of his third collection of political cartoons, called Na Dvoru (At the Court). Juri's work for Dnevnik can be found here.
- A team of 15 inventors took part in the 17th Invention/New Product Exposition (INPEX) in Pittsburgh, United States, this week. This was the sixth time Slovenes participated, and once again fared remarkably: virtually the entire team took away awards, 13 in all. In terms of a medal count, Slovenia fared only behind the US and Taiwan. The exposition featured more than 600 inventions from more than 20 countries.
- Photographer and pilot Matevž Lenarčič's announced plans this week to fly around the world in 80 days, a la Jules Verne. Calling the attempt the "World Trans Siberia Project," Lenarčič's ultra-light aircraft will take off in June from Ljubljana's Brnik airport, and should touch down in August in Nova Gorica, the site of the first Slovene flight in 1909 by Edvard Rusjan. A website will track Lenarčič's progress throughout. The stunt follows last October's daredevil ski down Mount Everest by Davo Karničar, which brought significant publicity to the country.
Brian J Požun, 25 May 2001
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