Children's film festival to open in Ostrov later this month

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Czechoslovakia traditionally led the field in making children's films, a fact still reflected in the number of children's film festivals held in the Czech Republic. The biggest and most famous festival is in Zlin, which has been going for more than 40 years. But another children's film and TV festival is to be held in late September in the West Bohemian town of Ostrov, and Alena Skodova has the details:

The Ostrov festival is called The Ota Hoffman Film and TV Festival for Children, after a famous children's films' scriptwriter and producer. The competing films will be judged by two juries - a "regular" jury made of adult film critics, and another one comprised of children. The festival in Ostrov is also the only festival where the competing films are evaluated by a vote, in which all the children present in the cinema hall take part. I spoke with the festival's programme director, Vratislav Hlasek, who told me this year's event would be special:

"For the first time, this year's festival will have a theme, which means that in addition to the competing films which were produced last year in Czech film studios and by Czech and Slovak TV, it will also be a retrospective of Czech and Slovak sci-fi films. This year is a magic one: 2001 reminds us of Stanley Kubric's film "2001 A Space Odyssey" from the famous novel by Arthur C. Clarke, and we thought it could be an interesting idea to compare the world in 2001 as seen through the eyes of filmmakers 30 years ago and what it actually looks like today. After all, we'll never have the chance again."

So Ostrov will witness several visions of the world in 2001 and even more distant future, as there will be some 20 science-fiction films screened during the festival. Mr. Hlasek also told me that the whole town would be decorated accordingly:

"We are trying to bring the theme of spaceships, extra-terrestrials and time-travel right inside the town and want children to be reminded of this theme not only inside the House of Culture where the main cinema hall is located, but everywhere in Ostrov, and so there will be many various characters and objects from outer space decorating the town during the festival."

But the Ostrov film and TV festival is special for another reason: everyday local cable TV will broadcast news from all the events, and the programmes will me made by children themselves. At a press conference earlier this week we were shown how things went last year, when the children's TV station - called "Ocko" - or little eye - was set up. It showed that the time when children were just passive consumers of entertainment are gone, that they themselves are able to formulate their thoughts and create projects targeted not only at their friends, but - thanks to new technology - also the general public.

There will also be many accompanying events, including discussions with renowned astronomers and displays of props used in older Czech science-fiction films or objects closely connected with this year's theme, such as astronauts' space suits etc. A number of famous film personalities have been invited to talk about their work with children, and so there's certainly a lot to look forward to in Ostrov from 22nd to 26th of September!