Hollywood star Zellweger presents award to Czech great Pojar at Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Renee Zellweger, photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is one of the biggest cultural and social events in the Czech Republic. The 42nd Karlovy Vary got underway in the pretty spa town on Friday evening, with the Oscar-winning Hollywood star Renee Zellweger perhaps the biggest name ascending the red carpet at the Thermal hotel for the official opening. Ian Willoughby was at the glitzy ceremony. Radio Prague's Rosie Johnston spoke to him over the phone and begun by asking about the gala opening ceremony.

"Well, as you know, Rosie, the big star on Friday night was Renee Zellweger, the American actress, whom listeners will know as Bridget Jones, who is a huge Hollywaood star, and who has an Oscar for the film 'Cold Mountain'. She actually arrived wearing jeans for the opening night of the festival, because she lost her luggage in London, on the way here. Also at the opening ceremony was the Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, who usually comes every year, he comes on the first night, Vaclav Havel comes on the last night. So Klaus was here, as were half of the Czech film world. Also what was interesting was the reason that Renee Zellweger came here; she came here because it was recommended to her by somebody she calls her friend - that was Madeleine Allbright, who of course is the Czech-born, former US Secretary of State."

... And on the topic of Renee, I hear that she presented an award to Bretislav Pojar the other day...

Renee Zellweger and Bretislav Pojar,  photo: CTK
"She did indeed. Mr. Pojar, Bretislav Pojar is 84, he's a huge figure in Czech animation, and she gave him a crystal globe, which is the Karlovy Vary award. It was for 'Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema'. Also what was really nice was that she clearly had done her homework, she had watched these films and she knew his work. She made a really nice speech and she even got his name right. Also, cutely, she had learned some Czech, including a phrase which basically translated as "Where the hell is my luggage?""

But I've heard that it wasn't just celebrities and bigwigs that were there at the start of the Karlovy Vary film festival, can you tell me a bit about the opening film?

"Yes, the opening film was by this American director and writer called Tom Decillo. It's called Delirious, and it was a comedy about the celebrity industry in the US. It's kind of a satire. He presented the film on the opening night at the Hotel Thermal here in Karlovy Vary, in front of President Klaus. And he said that he had never before presented a film to a President. He genuinely seemed to be nervous. And also, what was kind of nice was that the film was very independent, there was lots of bad language and it was rather gritty. Who knows what President Klaus made of it..."

Photo: CTK
And before the unveiling of the first film, isn't there always an extremely theatrical and over-the-top show?

"Yes, it's a really big thing here, actually, the curtain-raiser. They put so much effort into it, it is a really huge thing. What they had this year was 8 women, dressed-up with bouffant hair - well actually, in wigs, dancing, and one of the symbols of this year's festival is mirror-balls, so these women were hoisted above the stage on mirror-balls. Like I say, every year it is a big part of the festival here, the opening, the curtain-raiser and the big kind of show, and really it was, definitely, a show!"