Festival gives Czech film fans rare chance to see makers up close

Photo: CTK

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is in full swing in the west Bohemian town. By the time it ends on Saturday evening, thousands of mostly young viewers will have seen over 250 films. They will also have had the rare chance to see or even meet some of the makers of those pictures, with many actors and directors attending the screenings of their films, in some cases holding discussions with the audience.

Who are the most interesting guests this year? That's a question for Ian Willoughby, who is at the Karlovy Vary film festival.

Well, Renee Zellweger was here for the opening ceremony. At the end of the week Danny DeVito is coming here and they are both huge -kind of bankable- Hollywood stars. I would say that many of the guests at the festival fall into two categories. Some of them are up-and-coming young stars, others are actors and directors who have been around the block a bit. For example in the last few years we've had actresses here like Scarlet Johanson, and Keira Knightley before they became the huge stars they are today and I think this year- somebody who fits that bill is a girl called Ellen Page who is from Canada. She's twenty- though she looks more like she's fourteen I must say - and she's known for a film called Hard Candy which is very hard-hitting. She's a very good actress and like Keira Knightley, like Scarlet Johanson it is entirely possible that she could be a really big name in a few years. By the way, Ellen Page has already left. She's going backpacking around Eastern Europe which must be a first for a star of Karlovy Vary and who knows perhaps at this moment she could be at a train station in East Slovakia somewhere...

Right. What about the second category - the veterans, so to speak?

Well, there are many of them this year including for example Bud Cort who played the role of Harold in the famous "Harold and Maude" or for instance today Sybil Shepard is here - she was in great films of course like Taxi-driver, the Last Picture Show and the latter film is included this year in a retrospective called New Hollywood looking at the early work of great directors like Copolla and Peter Bogdanovic who directed The Last Picture Show - he was meant to be here but he cancelled and unfortunately that always happens, a few people have to pull out often for work reasons...but I must say that the vast majority of the guests here - directors and actors - are people that most people wouldn't know.

Photo: CTK
You could for example be standing beside somebody at the bar one night and then a few days later you see them winning the Crystal Globe for Best Supporting Actor or something. That actually happened to me a few years ago. There was a girl I saw about the place - didn't even know she was an actress and then I see her on stage getting an award at the end of the whole festival.

What about the people who are actually making the decisions here - the grand jury. I understand that this year's chairman is a big fish in the film world?

That's right, his name is Peter Bart. Peter Bart was a film journalist, then he became studio boss and producer. He was involved in films like the Godfather and so on and then he went back to journalism but on a very high level. He is the editor in chief of the magazine Variety - has been for two decades almost. Peter Bart has a tv programme called "Sunday morning shootout" - a film programme -and he is actually making an edition of this programme here in Karlovy Vary so in a few weeks he is going to be bringing the festival and the very pretty town of Karlovy Vary into the living rooms of millions of Americans.