Mako Sajko, a prominent Slovenian documentarist, screenwriter, and film director, made significant contributions to the world of cinema during his lifetime. Born on January 19, 1927, in Tržič, his career as a filmmaker left an indelible mark on the industry.
Sajko’s passion for film led him to study under the guidance of Slavko Vorkapić at the High Film School in Belgrade. In 1959, he graduated, becoming the first Slovenian film director to hold a formal degree in directing.
Throughout his career, Sajko was known for his socially conscious approach to filmmaking. He tackled taboo subjects such as industrial pollution and prostitution, using his craft to shed light on these important issues.
One of his most renowned works was the documentary film “Samomorilci, pozor!” (Suicides, Beware!), released in 1967. While the film received several awards and critical acclaim, it also stirred controversy within Yugoslav authorities. The documentary’s focus on the rising number of suicides among young people led to both the establishment of the first youth suicide prevention programs and the banning of the film. Unfortunately, this controversy also limited Sajko’s career opportunities, including the denial of a feature film debut.
Despite these challenges, Sajko continued to create thought-provoking films. His last documentary film, “Narodna noša” (National Costume), released in 1975, was also met with a ban. Ultimately, these obstacles forced him into premature retirement from the world of cinema.
Throughout his career, Mako Sajko received numerous awards and honors. In 1969, he was honored with the Prešeren Fund Award, recognizing his significant contributions to Slovenian culture. Later in his life, he received the Badjura Lifetime Achievement Prize in 2009 and the France Štiglic Award for his outstanding career in 2021.
On January 1, 2023, Mako Sajko passed away at the age of 95, leaving behind a legacy of socially relevant and impactful documentary filmmaking that continues to resonate with audiences.