Blaga’s Lessons wins Karlovy Vary as Robin Wright brings glitz

Eli Skorcheva and Stephan Komandarev

The big winner at this year’s Karlovy Vary film festival, which culminated on Saturday night, was Blaga’s Lessons, with the Bulgarian film taking the Best Film and Best Actress prizes. Meanwhile, star Robin Wright brought Hollywood glamour to the closing ceremony.  

The 57th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival reached a climax on Saturday evening, with the traditional glitzy gala closing.

The Grand Prix in the main Crystal Globe competition went to Blaga’s Lessons, a Bulgarian film about a widow who loses her savings to conmen, in a life-changing moment.

Blaga’s Lessons is directed by Stephan Komandarev, who told the festival’s KVIFF TV the best description of the film was “social thriller”.

Eli Skorcheva | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

“It’s a movie about the generation of my parents, the generation who were the biggest victims of the period of transition after communism; they lost dignity in the sunset of their lives. And of course the thriller element is around the phone scam phenomenon that happens very often in Eastern Europe.”

Blaga’s Lessons also earned the Best Actress prize for Eli Skorcheva. The 69-year-old picked up the Crystal Globe competition’s Best Actress gong, crowning a remarkable comeback; the film’s makers had persuaded out of retirement over 30 years after she quit acting.

“First, it was very intriguing, and difficult, to play a role like this. Blaga is very different from me in terms of expressiveness. I also accepted the part because of the director, Stephan Komandarev, and because of the beautiful script.”

Babak Jalali | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The Best Director award at Karlovy Vary went to Babak Jalali for Fremont, a charming and quirky movie that also has a political edge. The Iranian-British filmmaker spoke to KVIFF TV about its protagonist.

“She’s a young Afghan woman who used to work as a translator for the US military and has now moved to Fremont in California. I wanted to show that a young Afghan woman is no different from a young woman from anywhere else – from Czechia, from Germany, from France, from San Salvador, from anywhere. And even though she has seen some serious stuff, and suffered because of it, she doesn’t let that be a barrier to her still seeking to build a life for herself.”

'Fremont' | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

There was also some Hollywood glamour at the gala closing, in the form of US actress Robin Wright. She received Karlovy Vary’s President’s Award and had this to say to the packed Grand Hall at Hotel Thermal.

Robin Wright | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

“To be in a career and love it so much is such a rarity, so I feel very blessed. I want to thank all of you and this incredible team that you have – it’s one of the best festival’s I’ve ever been in my lifetime. But also I thank all of you for supporting cinema. And let’s bring it back. We need film back in the theatres. Covid put a bit of a damper on that, definitely in our country. And I just love lovers of film. So, děkuji.”

Robin Wright | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The 58th edition of the Karlovy Vary festival will begin on June 28th next year.