BRATISLAVA: FNE spoke with Vladimir Burianek, the new director of the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, about the first steps he intends to take and his priorities for the next five-year period in the office.

Vladimír Burianek, source: private archiveVladimir Burianek, who was elected on 16 October 2023, studied Production at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and received his PhD degree at the Film Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts.

FNE: The Audiovisual Fund has gone through a challenging period. The previous director, Peter Badač, was dismissed just a few months after his election. What was your motivation for deciding to run for the post of Director of the Fund?

Vladimir Burianek: I have been working in the audiovisual environment my entire professional career and I know all the processes and contexts in great detail and from the ground up. I started as a production assistant in the Slovak Film Studio Bratislava – Koliba, then I worked with major foreign productions and filmmakers as location manager and executive producer in the production of feature films, documentaries and TV series.

For 13 years I was the chief producer at the then largest production company that produced TV programmes for all television stations in Slovakia, and for the last 12 years at the Radio and Television Slovakia, where I worked in management as a director and as the intendant of the most watched TV station Jednotka, as deputy programme director and producer.

Prior to my election to the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, I was for six years a member of the Slovak Audiovisual Fund´s experts commissions, which evaluated applications for support of feature cinematographic and television films and series. Having observed an extremely turbulent period at the Slovak Audiovisual Fund since January 2023, I decided to offer my many years of experience to the benefit of the audiovisual community and to run for the Director’s position.

FNE: As you have experience from the nationwide public broadcaster, but also from the production environment, how do you assess the functioning of the Audiovisual Fund and where do you see room for change?

Vladimir Burianek: The Slovak Audiovisual Fund is extremely important for the support of Slovak audiovisual culture, not only in the field of development and production of new audiovisual works, but also for the support of distribution, promotion of Slovak films at home and abroad, and events related to films in Slovakia. The Fund is also important for the support of the audiovisual industry and thus to support employment in this specific area and the inflow of foreign investment into Slovakia.

As the Slovak Audiovisual Fund has existed for more than 12 years without any major problems and its activities are set up in a rational way, it will be necessary to follow the approved rules or to update some of them in connection with the natural evolution of the audiovisual environment.

Slovakia is a relatively small country and this is linked to the possibilities for the Fund´s income to be redistributed among applicants. Sometimes it seems that, in particular the expectations of many Slovak producers for the allocation of public support are several times higher than the real possibilities. The lack of experienced, specialised collaborators in the production of audiovisual works in Slovakia and the long-standing absence of original film studios for filming are also beginning to slightly show.

FNE: What challenges do you have in your new position?

Vladimir Burianek: I consider it necessary to stabilise and calm the situation in the audiovisual environment and to try to get more funds for redistribution among applicants for subsidies. I am convinced that it will be possible to increase the Ministry of Culture´s annual financial contribution by at least the inflation rate for the entire period to date to the level of the real value of the current contribution (i.e. by approximately 2.7 m EUR) and then to ensure its automatic valorisation. 

FNE: In your opinion, what is the current situation of the Slovak film?

Vladimir Burianek: Slovak filmmakers and producers have recently won several awards at foreign festivals with various interesting themes. From my point of view, it is important that creative teams manage to prepare and implement such attractive themes and stories that will be processed in a sophisticated form and will be able to attract and reach as many viewers as possible in all regions of Slovakia.

Without sufficient audience interest, these audiovisual works may create a sense of elitism and the subsequent question may be the relevance of their cultural and social value for taxpayers’ money.

The above comment does not, of course, apply to works aimed at specifically targeted groups, such as works for children, the disadvantaged and various thematic events, such as festivals and film shows with a specific theme or aimed at various minority groups.

FNE: What are your main priorities for the next five-year term?

Vladimir Burianek: Adjust the structure of support activities according to the real financial possibilities of the Fund, with priority to support majority Slovak films and themes that have the potential to attract a wider public while respecting the cultural and social values.

Cooperation in the production of foreign coproduction projects is also important from the point of view of the possibility of obtaining further support for them, but their support from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund must be appropriately adjusted with regard to the audience potential, Slovak representation in these projects and the representation of Slovakia abroad.

One of my priorities is also to increase the existing support for emerging filmmakers in Slovakia, whether for school films or the so-called debuts of filmmakers and producers. In cooperation with the Slovak Audiovisual Fund Council, I plan to ensure that the Fund strengthens and subsequently maintains its credit as a generally socially recognised, reputable and transparent institution that brings together all professionals in the field of audiovisual culture and industry in Slovakia.

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