58th Karlovy Vary to turn spotlight on Kafka and cinema

Jonatan Kuna, Aleš Najbrt and Jiří Bartoška

The first details about this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival have just been revealed. The 58th edition of the region’s biggest cinema event will feature a special section dedicated to Franz Kafka, while its visual identity will reflect the Brutalist hotel at the centre of the festival.

Cameras whirred as Karlovy Vary festival president Jiří Bartoška and designer Aleš Najbrt pulled back a sheet to reveal the visual identity of the 58th edition in Prague on Tuesday morning.

The main image comprises three circles and a square making up a number 58.

Najbrt says the design, by his Studio Najbrt colleague Jonatan Kuna, was largely inspired by the Brutalist Hotel Thermal, the centre of the annual cinema extravaganza.

Karel Och,  Jiří Bartoška and Kryštof Mucha | Photo: Vít Šimánek,  ČTK

“To a certain degree it comes from the ground plan of Hotel Thermal. But there are also other inspirations, which you can see in the animated version of the visual: the architecture of the hotel, the visual nature of the hotel and the way that it connects to cinema, and a certain nostalgia toward film.”

The Karlovy Vary programme team are still fine-tuning the lineup of pictures for the 58th edition. But part of the programme has been made public – a section entitled The Wish To Be an Indian: Kafka and Cinema, marking the centenary of the Prague writer’s death.

Artistic director Karel Och says the side-bar is subtitled Adaptations/Inspirations.

Photo: Warner Bros.

“Since the 1960s, I would say, there have been quite a few direct adaptations of Kafka’s work, be it Orson Welles’ The Trial or Metamorphosis by Jan Němec, a TV film from West Germany. Or even the Czech film Amerika by Vladimír Michálek, which is celebrating 30 years since it was made.

"As far as inspirations are concerned, we can look forward to names like Martin Scorsese and his After Hours, which is a film he himself mentions as being very much inspired by Kafka. Also The Money Order by Ousmane Sembene, the father of African cinema, from 1968, and other quite surprising films, such as Testuo by Shinya Tsukamoto.”

Stephen Soderbergh’s 1991 film Kafka will also be shown, as will Mr. Kneff, the director’s radical reinvention of the same work from 2021.

The Shadow of A Hot Summer | Photo: NFA

This year’s restored Czech classic film will be The Shadow of A Hot Summer by František Vláčil. Karel Och continues.

“It’s a period piece set in the last days of the Second World War. I’d say it’s a drama-thriller, and it features incredible performances, one of them being the president of the festival, Jiří Bartoška.

"This film is something we also like to remember in connection with the history of Karlovy Vary, because it was awarded the Crystal Globe at the 21st festival in 1978. And it’s a film that will be accompanied by a large delegation.”

In other news, one of the film industry's top casting directors, Francine Maisler, is due to attend KVIFF, where she will give a master class. Czech actor Ivan Trojan will receive the festival's President's Award for his contribution to Czech cinema.

Petra Klausová and Jakub Voráček | Photo: František Kuna,  Czech Radio

The official charity at this year’s Karlovy Vary will be the Jakub Voráček Foundation. The Czech ice hockey star set up the organisation when his sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“I don’t know how many people over the years we have helped, but when you go talk to patients and they have tears in their eyes and they tell you that they're happy that you’ve helped them, that’s the feeling you are looking for when you start something like that. And I think in this crazy world that we’re living in right now more people should help each other as much as possible because, you know, it’s good karma.”

The 58th edition of the Karlovy Vary film festival gets underway in the West Bohemian spa town on June 28.

Author: Ian Willoughby
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