Debut directors, Geoffrey Rush and “Pig Slaughter” set for Karlovy Vary

Festival president Jiří Bartoška

Two Czech titles, Tiny Lights and Our Lovely Pig Slaughter, will be in the main competition at the 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, organisers revealed on Tuesday. Meanwhile Hollywood star Geoffrey Rush will be part of the jury deciding who takes home the Crystal Globe. I spoke to artistic director Karel Och at the unveiling of this year’s official selection.

You have 15 films by debuting filmmakers in the official selection this year. Why so many, and what does it mean to you to have so many young directors?

“I guess that’s our sensitivity for up-and-coming filmmakers. We have been championing them for many years and I’m happy to say that there are so many.

Karel Och - the artistic director of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

“We’ve always wanted to support filmmakers at the beginning of their careers and we’re always happy to find out when their work is [later] being showcased by a major festival, such as Cannes, Berlin or Venice afterwards.”

There are two Czech films in the main competition, including one with the arresting title in English of Our Lovely Pig Slaughter [directed by Adam Martinec]. What can you tell us about Our Lovely Pig Slaughter?

“Well, as the title suggests it’s a film which is set in a very particular moment in the life of people from the countryside – which includes myself as well – and it’s the slaughtering of a pig, or zabijačka.

“Basically the family gathers, the butcher comes and the pig is slaughtered. It’s kind of an extreme moment which offers, for a talented artist a lot of different character studies.

“And Adam Martinec kind of waves to the Czechoslovak New Wave with his movie, which features not just actors but also non-actors; his father plays one of the main characters.

“It’s a charming, funny and sad film.”

The other Czech film is Tiny Lights by Beata Parkanová, who was previously at the festival with The Word. What is Tiny Lights?

“Tiny Lights is one day in the life of a young girl whose parents are in the moment of a break-up, but she is spending most of her time with her grandparents, played by Martin Finger and Veronika Žilková.

“It’s an unusual way to portray such a situation, because it’s exclusively through the eyes of the girl, and through the sounds that she hears and what she can see.

“So it’s a film which looks, on the surface, like a conventional… not coming of age but children’s film, but it’s highly original and one of the most moving films we’ve seen this year.”

Geoffrey Rush, the Oscar-winning actor, will be on the jury this year. I guess Vary must have made a big impression on him two years ago, when he came as an actor?

“I’d like to think so. I remember the moment from two years ago when he and his family attended a screening of Corsage at 8:30 in the morning, so he’s a film buff.

Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue in 'The King’s Speech' | Photo: Bontonfilm

“We’re happy he could make time and clear his schedule for the whole duration of the festival, 10 days.

“He will be judging the films we selected, so it’s a big responsibility but also it’s really exciting.”

Other Czech films to watch out for at this year’s Karlovy Vary, which begins on June 28 in the West Bohemian spa town, is Jiří Madl’s Waves, centred on events at Czechoslovak Radio around the 1968 Soviet invasion, and The Gardener’s Year by Jiří Havelka, starring Oldřich Kaiser. Both of those pictures will be in the Special Screenings section, as will Tatabojs.Doc, about the popular Czech band, I’m Not Everything I Want to Be, a documentary on photographer Libuše Jarcovjáková, and The Other One by Marie-Magdalena Kochová.