The Kino Otok - Isola Cinema Festival is a specialised, non-competitive festival that focuses on presenting contemporary, geographically and aesthetically very heterogeneous film production. It was launched in 2004 in the small coastal town of Izola, and although it remains a relatively small festival, its specific film programme (which usually brings several hard-to-see films and many well-known international guests) attracts a broad national and international interest.
The festival takes place at the beginning of June, its principal venues are the Art kino Odeon Izola, the Izola Cultural Centre and Izola's Manzioli Square where the evening open-air screenings take place. Evening gatherings take place next to the Lighthouse, where a camp is set up.
Kino Otok - Isola Cinema Festival is organised by the Otok Cultural Institute and co-produced with Kinodvor Cinema, Izola Centre for Culture, Sport and Events, Slovenian Cinematheque, Art kino Odeon Izola and Italian Self-managing National Community in Izola. It also collaborates with many other international festivals from its geographical or conceptual vicinity.
The festival's film programme consists of roughly 7 sections. The main one is aired at the open-air cinema in one of Izola's squares, presenting there the latest intriguing films of award-winning authors from around the globe.
The remaining sections are: Signals, which concentrates upcoming talents that question current or past social topics; Good Neighbours, with a focus on short film format and selected authors (in the past works by Boris Poljak, Hana Jušić, Sonja Tarokić and Icelandic short films were presented) or festival picks; Submarine, where youth and animated films are shown; and the Video on the Beach, in which young and unknown authors present their short works. A very peculiar section is the Silvan Cinema School (or Silvan's Bay). Defined as "a space, not a school, a space for experiencing and narrating films, films and life", it is dedicated to Silvan Furlan (1953–2005), the godfather of the festival and founder of the Slovenian Cinematheque. There is also a section entitled Friends, which is curated by invited local and international supporters of the festival.
In the past the festival audience rated the best film, which granted the winning films a regular distribution in Slovene cinema network. Some of the past winners of the festival are Saratan by Ernest Abdidzhaparov, Granny [Babusya] by Russian director Lidia Bobrova, Full or Empty by Iranian New Wave filmmaker Abolfazl Jalili, Prince of Broadway by Sean Baker, and Taxiphone: El Mektoub by director Mohammed Soudani, Swiss-Algerian co-production.
Workshops, lectures and other events
Among the events hosted at the Kino Otok Festival, lectures and workshops tend to get the most attention. At previous festival editions The Happy DV workshop, organised in collaboration with Luksuz Production, enabled local film enthusiasts to get acquainted with the practical and theoretical secrets of the seventh art and make their own short films. Recently, the Creative Europe Desk Slovenia also got involved, organising, for example, a scriptwriting workshop, led by Miguel Machalski.
In co-operation with Kino! Magazine for Cinema and Cinematic Issues the festival hosts a four-day young critics workshop Sharpening the View. Other similar events have a more occasional character and are usually linked to visiting guests, though some sort of a musical programme tends to be held regularly.
International cooperation and guests
The festival places a great importance on its guests: should they be artists, professional partners, or journalists, the festival considers them simply as "friends". So one of the sections is dedicated to them – the Friends section. Friends of the Kino Otok Festival are given the chance to bring their friends and films – with no limitations. Among the regular members of the Friends "gang" are the British film critic Neil Young, the director of the Innsbruck film festival Helmut Groschup, and the Germany-based critic of the magazine Film Comment Olaf Möller.
Some notable guests of the festival from the past years are Lisandro Alonso, Pablo Trapero, Abolfazl Jalili, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Tsai Ming-liang, Nishtha Jain, William E. Jones, Albertina Carri, Darren Dean, Natalie Mansoux, Young Seok Noh, Mariano de Rosa, C.W. Winter, Giulano Ricci, Hrvoje Laurenta, Hrönn Marinósdóttir etc.
The festival's principal venues are the Art kino Odeon Izola, the Izola Cultural Centre and Izola's Manzioli Square where the evening open-air screenings take place. Evening gatherings take place next to the Lighthouse, where a camp is set up.
In days after the festival in Izola a selection of festival films is screened at Kinodvor Cinema and the Slovenian Cinematheque under the name Isola Cinema in Ljubljana.