Chotěboř festival a holiday for sci fi, horror, and gaming fans


Festival Fantazie is one of the Czech Republic’s longest-running conventions dedicated to science fiction, horror films, books, video and board games. Founded in 1996 as Avalcon and since renamed, the con takes place annually in the town of Chotěboř, East Bohemia. This year’s inception got underway roughly a week ago and has a few days remaining for fans to attend everything from promotional events to appearances by special guests.

Václav Pravda
Václav Pravda is FF’s director and a little earlier on a line from Chotěboř he described how the convention has grown – and changed.

“The original festival was held in 1996 and the idea was simply to have fun with friends over sci fi and horror books, TV series and movies. Today it’s much more: there is an outdoor programme too and a discotheque in the evenings for people to visit and have a good time. The first year, there were about 100 attendees and roughly 40 events. Now we have more than 2,000 people staying here, on average for five days, and the whole convention takes 11 days and there are around 1,350 single events from screenings to talks with guests.”

Michael Brunsfeld
High-profile guests are important for conventions like this one: who are some of the big names this year?

“One of the star guests is the Hollywood film editor and music composer John Ottman; another is Michael Brunsfeld, an art director and designer. He worked for eight years for George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic and worked on films like The Mummy and Stars Wars II.”

That must be huge for fans of the Star Wars franchise especially to be able to hear about some of the secrets of the trade...

“Yes. For them it’s a holiday to meet someone like Michael Brunsfeld, understandably.”

Games are also a big part of the convention: how much is dedicated to video game platforms as well as modern strategy board games?

“Gaming is an important part of the festival and we have both the different video game companies as well as board games and board game companies on board. We recognise that they are important for visitors including families who can spend several hours in the game hall, trying different titles out. And so we expanded the game hall by double this year. Regarding board gaming, there are 60 tables and even at 11 in the evening usually there are only five or 10 tables free. Even that late.”

You mentioned families, what is the average demographic of visitors?

“It hasn’t changed much in recent years regarding age: the average age is 24 or 25. It actually used to be quite a bit higher when we first began years ago. What has changed is participation by women: in 1996, only five or 10 percent of visitors were women, which has since gone up. Now it’s 40 percent, so that’s something that has changed.”