Czech 1968 drama The Word among films competing at 56th Karlovy Vary

'The Word'

With just over a month until the 56th edition of the region’s biggest cinema event, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has just announced its main programme. Two Czechs works – Borders of Love and The Word – will be in the running for the Crystal Globe, while there are also be two in the all-new Proxima competition. I spoke to Karlovy Vary’s artistic director Karel Och.

“We’re very happy that no less than two world premieres from the Czech Republic will feature in the Crystal Globe competition.

“The Word is the second film by Beata Parkanová, whose previous film, a debut called Moments, was screened in Karlovy Vary in the East of the West section.

“Her new very powerful, intimate drama is set in 1968 and it is a very strong contender for the Czech Republic, with amazing performances by Martin Finger and Gabriela Mikulková.

“The film talks about how difficult it is to keep a certain moral integrity during times which are very difficult, not just for the main character – who is a small-town notary – but for his family.

'Borders of Love' | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

“The second film is quite different. It’s a feature debut by Tomasz Wiński.

“It’s a very modern film, shot partially on iPhone, which describes the situation of a successful young couple who at some point in their relationship decide to open up towards, let’s say, polygamy; they want to experiment with other partners.

“The film is not shockingly pornographic – we would not be interested in such a film.

“It is more about what a phenomenon like this can do with a couple.”

You mentioned East of the West. For many years we heard that East of the West was the flagship of Karlovy Vary and that you were a bridge between Eastern Europe and the rest of the world. That competition has now gone, replaced by Proxima. Tell us about that decision – was it a hard one to make?

“The decision to replace East of the West with Proxima was considered for many years, because we realise it’s not easy to interfere with the main programme to such an extent.

“But we really feel that our task to support the filmmakers from the former Eastern Bloc, from the 1990s until now, had been accomplished.

“And we know that filmmakers from our area – from Poland, from Hungary, ex-Soviet Union, etcetera – also wanted to compete on a world level.

“We were also asked by filmmakers from Asia, from Latin America – who badly wanted to premiere in Karlovy Vary – and they urged us to create more space for premieres.

“So all that led to the decision to open the second competition to the entire world and to focus, of course, on young, up-and-coming filmmakers, like in the past – but to be open also to works by already established filmmakers who had the courage to maybe try a new direction in their work.”

I always ask you this same question, but are there any one or two particular films that you would urge people, if they get a chance, to search out at this year’s Karlovy Vary?

“Do I answer you the same way always? I don’t remember, but I know I always mention the phenomenon of Sophie’s choice, to put one above the rest.

'Tinnitus' | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

“I might mention one film for a particular reason, connected to a friend of mine.

“In the Proxima competition there is a very, very strong contender from Brazil.

“It’s called Tinnitus and the director’s name is Gregorio Graziosi.

“What’s special about this film is that the director himself, who is also a scriptwriter, while writing the script he was listening to Tindersticks, which is a band who are very famous not only in the Czech Republic.

“And one of their members, David Boulter, who has been living in Prague for more than two decades, is the composer of the music, which is extraordinary – just like the whole film.”

Representing the Czech Republic in the main competition at the 56th Karlovy Vary IFF will be Borders of Love by Tomasz Wiński and The Word by Beata Parkanová. The Proxima competition will include ART talent show, a documentary by Tomáš Bojar and Adéla Komrzý, as well as And Then There Was Love... by Šimon Holý, who also had a film at last year’s KVIFF.

Outside the competitions, Banger by Adam Sedlák is one of three Czech films appearing in the Special Screenings category. PSH Neverending Story by Štěpán FOK Vodrážka documents the Czech Republic’s top rap group, while popular actor and director Miroslav Krobot will see his Big Opening also get its world premiere.