Koliba ruled free of debt to gov’t

Co. offers to mend fences, fund Slovak film foundation

PRAGUE — Koliba Film Studio bosses are celebrating after Slovakia’s supreme court ruled it does not have to repay 80 million crowns ($2 million) to the Ministry of Culture for unfinished projects started by the former management, cronies of ousted Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar.

“The trial was a great break for us,” said a Koliba spokesman. Slovak investment group First Guarantor bought a majority stake in Koliba last fall. Since then, the owners have been in a struggle with the Ministry over the 3-year-old debts.

After Tuesday’s verdict, Koliba offered to mend fences by funding a foundation, to be created by the Ministry, which would support and finance the production of Slovak films.

Koliba already has undertaken that goal by declaring that it would help finance a new film by emerging Slovak helmer Eva Borusovicova.

Most recently, the studio provided production services for Fox’s “Behind Enemy Lines,” starring Gene Hackman. The film was the first to return to Koliba after nearly three years of disuse of the studio and a battle to wrest control from its former owners.

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