Harvey Keitel among big names at this year's Karlovy Vary Film Festival


The Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the main film event in the Czech Republic and now in its 39th year, gets under way on Friday. It is one of the few international film festivals in its category that is open to the general public, explains Laura McGuiness of the official festival newspaper.

Karlovy Vary awards, photo: CTK
"Well, we've got quite a few people coming in from countries al over the world; directors, producers, actors. I think two of the biggest names were looking forward to this year are Harvey Keitel, who is coming to accept an award for his contribution to world cinema, and also Elijah Wood, who is coming to promote his movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."

Famous from Lord of the Rings, of course.


And what films can we look forward to? Are there any that you think are going to stand out, that will possibly be up for the main awards?

"Well, there are quite a few excellent films in all of the categories, but in the official selection, which is the main competition, there are fifteen, and I think the one that is generating the most excitement on this end is probably Mistri, or Champions, which is the only film in the main selection that was produced and directed in the Czech Republic."

Right. What about the Czech films? Do they feature quite heavily at Karlovy Vary? Are usually well represented?

"Well, there are a number of different areas of the festival. There is, of course, the official selection, there's the forum of independents, and then there is one section specifically devoted to showing Czech films."

Harvey Keitel with his wife at Karlovy Vary, photo: CTK
A little bit about the jury as well: It is an international jury.

"There are seven people on the jury and it is headed by Al Ruban, who is probably best known for producing some of the Cassavettes films. Aside from that, the other members are all people who have been involved in different elements of film production in different countries."

Compare Karlovy Vary for a moment to other film festivals — some of the major ones. What do you think it is that is distinctive about this festival, say compared to Cannes or Venice?

"I think one of the nice things about Karlovy Vary is that it's a little bit more accessible to people of all walks of life and not just to enormous celebrities. It has become over the past years very popular with the backpacking community, and has a very young population who comes to see and participate in film discussions. Which is pretty nice."

So you'd say, possibly, it is really about film and less about celebrity?

"I think definitely, yes.