An interview with Renato Bratkovič ~ creator of Alibi International Crime/Noir Festival!

As you may know, I have just spent a wonderfully creative weekend at the amazing Alibi International Crime/Noir Festival in Slovenia, which was the hosted and created by the very talented writer and creative advertising director,  Renato BratkovičThe festival is unique in its concept and originality, and so I was it was a real  pleasure to catch up with Renato, to ask him he felt about this year’s event…

Alibi is a unique, noir festival, set in the beautiful Slovenian mountains. What was the initial inspiration for its creation?

Nino, our friend photographer, and I made the film about Gora pod lipo ( back in July 2015. When the film was finished I realised, what a lovely place this was. I could imagine a bunch of writers writing there, eating, drinking, having fun … I told Lena (she runs the place with her boyfriend Primož) about the idea and she said, “Yeah, sure, create a concept and we’ll do something about it.” After two weeks I had this idea about inviting five writers for a weekend, let them draw titles for their stories, write them and present them in the end. The last weekend in September the first guests arrived.

This is the third year of the festival, how has it has evolved since the beginning?

We try to add little bits every year – the writing workshop concept, where participating writers get their titles and have to write the stories, is unique I believe, but I wanted a film night as well. The first Alibi happened so fast and the film I wanted to present (the first official Slovenian film noir Case: Osterberg)  but I was travelling from festival to festival at the time, so we ended up with Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me.

We hosted Case: Osterberg with the screenwriter and the producer last year, and this year we presented a film based upon my story and we invited my favorite director, Damjan Kozole, with his film Night Life.

What are your feelings about this year’s event?

Well, it seems I’m lucky to choose writers who form a brilliant team. And this year was no exception. But most of all, I’m happy I had more women than men this year. Women tend to write even darker stories then men, I think.

Alibi differs from many other literary festivals as the writers create their stories while in attendance – do you believe it is important to celebrate spontaneous creativity?

I believe we need this sense of accomplishment in the end. I mean it’s great if you’re able to visit a festival where you read your own work, but when you find yourself with a task of having to create something on the spot and present your work, you win twice: you get this beautiful feeling of having created something and you have one more story that year. I guess this is what drives my guests to come here and I’m happy about it.

How has the festival evolved over the years, and what are your future aspirations for Alibi?

Well, the workshop concept will definitely remain the core of the festival. In the future I’d also like to have Slovenian publishers as guest – maybe some collaboration between them and our participating writers might come out of it.

My story began with Bistrica Noir literary evening at our local library a couple of years ago, so I’ll try and find a way to get them involved in the festival. And I feel one film night is not enough.

As this was the third year, my plan is to have an anthology with 25 stories published every five years. So in three years, all the writers from the first five years are going to be invited to join us again for the sixth edition when we’re going to promote the book and have some real fun. But we’ll have to find some additional sponsors.

Thank you for your interesting insights Renato!

For more information on the festival why not visit the Website and Alibi FB Page?

For further information on Renato please visit:


Artisan advertising and publishing house.

Renato at Amazon



Lost in Translation &Feeling Like Love

Lost in Translation?

I was surprised to read the rumor that assumes translators are either lazy, or are writers who don’t wish to be noticed! I have no idea as to where that notion came from. The difference between a well translated text and an appalling one are so vast. Having seen this from both sides, while working for a Russian magazine, I would like to add my own insights to the discussion.

Late one night the deputy editor of the magazine, Status, which I work for, emailed in a state of advanced anxiety and frustration. The magazine had decided to try some new translators (Russian to English), and some of the pieces were so badly done, they were unreadable. The editor had done her best to restore some of the English, but as it was not her first language, she was struggling to make progress and the deadlines were imminent. Normally I would need to adapt the texts only slightly to make them more readable in English, and the Russian journalists were happy for me to do this; but this time they were so badly done they had to be carefully reconstructed as the quality of these excellent writers’ work had been ruined.

I felt really bad for my Russian colleagues, as no writer should have to cope with a situation like that, on a professional, glossy magazine. What I learnt from this experience was the amazing difference a good translator can make. Their work is largely unseen and unappreciated, and yet the better the job is done, the less you realize they have done it.

I  also understood form this experience that to respect someone else’s voice in a piece of writing, while translating, means that the translator must put their own ego on the shelf; in order to showcase someone else’s work. I have to ask in all honestly, how many writers’ would actually capable of doing this, without leaving behind traces of themselves and their own style? I doubt any of the writers I know personally, could resist the temptation to try and ‘improve’ the work. I must therefore conclude that translation is a highly specialised job carried out by very special people.

From a writer’s point of view, my concerns about translation are issues of trust and control. Having obsessed about the words, you wonder how, in another language, they will adapt and be perceived. And you will never know. It is impossible to predict reader reaction in your own language, so how much more risky that seems in someone else’s! My deepest concern is that, I write about different types of relationships in my poetry. My worst case scenario would be for a poem which is romantic or mildly erotic in English to seem slightly sleazy in another language – because I don’t the words or understand the cultural connotations that go with them.

My other concern is of rhythm; I have no idea if it gets lost once a piece has been translated. Some of my poems, such as ‘Feeling Like Love’ rely quite heavily on rhythm to give meaning, and I will never know if a poem like that, would give the same reading experience in another language; therefore translation involves an element of mystery and magic!

Feeling Like Love

She remembers the sheets,

That wrapped and entrapped them,

Coiled and curled,

Swathed across wet skin;

Drenched hot and cold,

In love and lust;

In strength and weakness,

In giving and receiving,

Hot, hard and needing,

Like nothing else exists –

Like everything;




Feeling; like, love.

First published in Contemporary Literary Horizon 2014

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