“Both names are iconic”: Karlovy Vary to welcome Depp and Caine

Johnny Depp

The 55th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival gets underway in just over a week, with veteran star Michael Caine set to receive a lifetime achievement award at the gala opening. The region’s biggest cinema extravaganza will also welcome megastar Johnny Depp, organisers have just announced. I asked artistic director Karel Och what it means for Karlovy Vary to draw such big names, especially as the festival is back after a two-year gap.  

“It’s a really unexpected surprise to us.

“But I have to say it’s the fruit of work we’ve been doing with [festival executive director] Kryštof Mucha for years.

“That means meetings, agents, publicists, managers, in LA, in New York, in Europe.

“I guess we did maybe 700 meetings in 15 years.

Michael Caine | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

“And of course to be in touch with a sales company such as Hanway Films, which is giving us a documentary by Julien Temple, Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane McGowan… which is one of the films which Johnny Depp will introduce, because he is one of the protagonists – being a friend of Shane McGowan’s for 30 years – and he coproduced the film as well.

“All of these relationships at some point kind of deliver – and it’s a beautiful coincidence that it’s exactly in this post-Covid year.

“And obviously Sir Michael Caine is a huge name, I would say for anyone who has ever been in a cinema, starting with the lovers of Hannah and Her Sisters by Woody Allen, or Cider House Rules, but also Batman.

“I mean, both names are quite iconic.

“I’d like to mention Ethan Hawke, a name which we announced a few days ago.

“He’s an amazing, versatile artist: filmmaker, actor, writer.

“So it’s a really nice, representative line-up of celebrities.”

What about guests who are less well-known who you and your colleagues in the Program Department will have invited – who are some of the more notable ones?

Source: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

“It’s a little bit difficult to confirm the exact names at this point, because the situation with Covid is changing every day.

“I was really happy to have on the jury a producer from Argentina, Benjamin Domenech, who produced for instance Lucrecia Martel’s film Zama, etcetera.

“But of course the situation in Argentina is not exactly favourable to long-distance travelling and return and obviously producers and filmmakers need to work.

“They need to work and they need to go back home, and if there is a risk for them of not being able to go back to their work, it’s impossible to travel.

“So as I say, the situation is changing.

“But we have among the filmmakers some nice names, such as Juho Kuosmanen, the Finnish filmmaker.

“He has made two films in his career and both have played at Cannes.

“The first one, the beautiful black and white film The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, won Un Certain Regard and his recent film, Compartment No. 6, just won the Grand Prix in the main competition in Cannes.

“We consider Juho not only a friend of the festival but one of the most talented filmmakers nowadays in Europe.

“We will have delegations for hopefully almost all of the films in the main competition.

“Some of them will have to go into quarantine, but they have happily agreed to quarantine because they have the world premiere of their film they’ve been working on for years and they don’t want to miss it.”

Ethan Hawke | Photo: Francois Berthier,  Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

Generally speaking, how do you think this year’s Karlovy Vary is going to compare to previous ones, given all the Covid measures that will be in place and so on?

“I have a comparison with other festivals, because I’ve already attended a few of them with the new measures, such as Venice or Cannes.

“And what you could feel at those festivals – and I’m sure we’ll be able to feel it in Karlovy Vary – is that no matter the measures and the masks that you will have to wear during screenings, etcetera, people are just really happy to be back together and to be watching movies in a theatre with an introduction from the filmmaker, with the possibility of a Q&A.

“I’m sure people will get used to the measures quite quickly and just enjoy the fact that we are back in a physical version of the festival.”