Intersex, duels of honour, hellraising: Karlovy Vary offers gamut of themes

The Karlovy Vary film festival is currently in full swing in the West Bohemian spa town. As every year, the region’s biggest cinema event offers extremely broad fare, from main competition films to fascinating documentaries – and all sorts of titles in between.

Matěj Chlupáček | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

We Were Never Modern by Matěj Chlupáček has been one of the most anticipated films at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The main Crystal Globe competition picture is set in a Baťa style industry town in Slovakia – and also features a very modern theme, as the director explained to the festival’s KVIFF.TV.

“The whole idea for the film came from screenwriter Miro Šifra, who found a book on forensic medicine by a professor Hájek from the ‘30s, where a full 100 pages were devoted to hermaphroditism – or intersex as we call it today. We were really intrigued by the fact that today's big taboo topic was, at that time, written about so extensively. It was then partly forgotten. From the ‘40s until the 21st century, we pretended these things don't exist, and we are only discovering them now.”

'We Were Never Modern' | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

One of the many documentaries presented at Karlovy Vary has been The Ghost of Richard Harris. It details the life and career of the Ireland-born Hollywood actor, who found fame in the 1960s before becoming equally well-known for his drinking and fighting.

Adrian Sibley | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The film’s UK director Adrian Sibley said Harris was indeed a hell-raiser, but even then within certain limits.

“Being a bad boy was, if not approved, certainly not corrected. I think that has definitely changed today, and rightly so, because I think there are a lot of question marks. What I felt about Harris though, and I wouldn’t have done the film if I felt that he ever crossed the line. Because he may have been reprehensible potentially, if you look at some of his behaviour – there’s a scene where he goes to a brothel – he never, as far as I know, did anything that would put him in a position to be challenged for his behaviour towards women.”

'The Ghost of Richard Harris' | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary
Vincent Perez | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

Swiss-French actor and director Vincent Perez has also been in Karlovy Vary, presenting his costume drama The Edge of the Blade. It’s about Paris society in the 1880s when fencing, and dueling, was common. Perez described the milieu of the time to KVIFF.TV.

“There is a moment where duels were all the rage in France. That was linked with the freedom of the press. In 1881 the press was allowed to do research and to release articles without them being passed by the censors. So duels came back very strongly in French society. So it was like one duel every day – and one dead every 35 duels.”

'The Edge of the Blade' | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The 57th edition of the Karlovy Vary film festival will climax with a closing ceremony on Saturday night.