46th Zlin children's film festival underway

Zlin children's film festival, photo: www.zlinfest.cz

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival may attract the most glamour and media attention but it is far from being the only film festival here in the Czech Republic. Indeed, while this year's Karlovy Vary will be the 41st, the Zlin International Film Festival for Children and Youth - which got underway on Sunday - is being held for the 46th time. Coilin O'Connor is in the south Moravian town for the festival. He told me all about it.

"It's a kind of unusual festival in that it's focused very much on children. So there are literally busloads of children running around the place, going to various events. The good thing about it is that when you go to see a film there's 100 or 150 schoolchildren there and it does enliven the atmosphere in the audience. You actually get a real audience experience, you're not just sitting in the dark."

What about the guests at this year's Zlin international film festival?

"There are a couple of noted actors and so on. Maximilian Schell is here - he won the best actor Oscar in 1961 for Judgment at Nuremberg. And Ivan Klima, who is better known as a writer of novels like Love and Garbage in the English speaking world.

"But in the '70s he actually worked on a number of animated films; he was banned by the Communists so he wrote a couple of scripts for the Little Mole [Krtek], which is quite famous in Ireland, where I'm from.

Kyberneticka Babicka
"And he also wrote the screenplay for Kyberneticka Babicka, which is quite a famous animated film by Jiri Trnka. He surprisingly has a lot of connections with children's films, and he's actually on the jury this year."

Last week a bill aimed at increasing state support for the Czech film industry was thrown out and the Czech stand at the Cannes film festival was shut down as a protest. I know some films were pulled from the Zlin festival as another protest - has that cast a bit of a shadow over the festival?

Photo: CTK
"Initially it caused a lot of consternation and there were fears that basically every Czech produced film was going to be pulled from the festival. In the end it was kind of resolved, in that the students relented and allowed their films to be screened but refused to show them as part of the competition.

"They feel that it's not right they should be representing the Czech Republic in international competitions, when they're not receiving any support."

The festival runs until this Saturday and you can find information in English at www.zlinfest.cz