Actors Banderas and Malkovich and screenwriter Schrader among big names at this year’s Karlovy Vary

John Malkovich, photo:

In a week and a half’s time the red carpet will be rolled out at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. There are no Czech pictures in the main competition this year, though visitors can look forward to a whopping 65 world, international and European premieres. But many will be just as interested in who they can see on that red carpet. So, who are the big stars this year? That’s a question I put to Karel Och of Karlovy Vary’s programming department.

“One of the biggest guests we have this year is John Malkovich who is coming to accept a lifetime achievement award for artistic contribution to world cinema. He’s also going to introduce his directorial debut which is called The Dancer Upstairs...As part of the tribute to John Malkovich we are showing the documentary Which Way Home by the US director Rebecca Cammisa, which he executive produced.”

And Antonio Banderas is coming.

“Yes, we are very happy that Antonio Banderas agreed to come to Karlovy Vary and accept the festival President’s Award, and of course present one of his films. We continue in the same…strategy as we do with John Malkovich and we decided to present Antonio Banderas as a director as well – he’s going to present his second film as director, Summer Rain, El camino de los ingleses, which he presented two years ago in Berlin.”

Also Paul Schrader the great screenwriter is coming. He wrote Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and many other great films.

“Yes, we are extremely delighted about Paul Schrader coming to Karlovy Vary and introducing his newest film Adam Resurrected, with Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe, which is based on Yoram Kaniuk’s famous novel.”

What about the jury – anybody interesting on this year’s jury at Karlovy Vary?

“I believe that each of the seven members of the jury is highly interesting. It’s a young jury, with five members around 40 years of age. The president of the jury is Claudie Ossard, the French producer who produced Arizona Dreaming by Kusturica and Amelie by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. She is one of the most important figures in French cinema.”

I understand you have more premieres than usual this year. Why is that?

“I’d like to think that filmmakers, producers and sales companies are starting to realise that Karlovy Vary is an important place to start the career of a film. Because we have many important festival people and distributors and sales people and buyers coming to the festival and checking the films.”

Are there any particular films that you would recommend to people who are going this year?

“That is really difficult, but there is one film in particular that I rate. It’s a British film called Bronson, which is a very unusual portrait of the most famous British prisoner, whose nickname is Charlie Bronson. It’s directed by the Danish director Nicolas Refn and it’s something that you have never seen before.”

The festival organisers have been saying that the economic downturn won’t affect you because you have long-term contracts with your sponsors. Are you a bit concerned though that there could be a fall-off in attendance?

“You know you have to fight for it, you have to fight for the attendance of the audience by showing interesting films. It’s the same task every year. It’s really something that shouldn’t be underestimated because the audience is very picky and demanding. And we hope they will come in the same numbers as in previous years.”