Karlovy Vary climaxes with top prize for The Father, honour for Patricia Clarkson

Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov, photo: ČTK/Slavomír Kubeš

The 54th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival culminated at the weekend, with the Grand Prix going to Bulgarian film The Father. Meanwhile, actress Patricia Clarkson, who received the event’s lifetime achievement Crystal Globe, brought Hollywood glamour to the closing ceremony.

Kristina Grozeva,  Petar Valchanov,  photo: ČTK/Slavomír Kubeš
Karlovy Vary film festival’s Grand Prix for Best Feature Film went to The Father, an intimate family drama by the Bulgarian couple Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov.

Valchanov said The Father had been inspired by a true story.

“The beginning was after the funeral of my mother. Our neighbour came and said that she had received a phone call from my mother. And this situation from real life provoked us to create this story.”

Grozeva explained the appeal of the son-father relationship at the heart of the winning movie.

“I think that these kinds of relationships between the closest relatives are one of the most important things in our lives. That’s why we decided to focus on this topic in our film.”

Among the other notable winners in the main competition was Germany’s Lara. Its lead Corinna Harfouch picked up Karlovy Vary’s Best Actress award, repeating a feat from 1988, while the powerful drama also earned a Special Jury Prize.

The Best Director gong went to Tim Mielants for Patrick, a tragicomedy set in a nudist colony.

Boris Akopov,  photo: ČTK/Slavomír Kubeš
The festival’s flagship East of the West competition was won by Russian picture The Bull. It’s the debut work by former ballet dancer Boris Akopov and focuses on the violent society he grew up in in the late 1990s.

The winner of the Best Documentary prize was Immortal, an essay in film form depicting the still-regimented nature of life in many parts of the former Soviet Union.

Immortal’s director Ksenia Okhapkina said it was not that surprising that such a culture remains in place so many years after the fall of communism.

“You can’t say the culture we have now is Russian. Because it’s international actually – there are 200 nations living in Russia. What you have in Russia is Soviet culture. Moreover, if you visit the countries on the post-Soviet territories, you will meet the same traces of this culture, which entices the human being and which is very practical and a little bit cosmic in its ideas. That leaves a huge trace and I don’t know how many years should pass that the people would change so much.”

Patricia Clarkson,  photo: ČTK/Kateřina Šulová
The biggest star at Karlovy Vary’s closing was US actress Patricia Clarkson – who said she was honoured to receive the festival’s Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema.

“It’s very special. First of all, I love this place. I love the people here. I think it’s one of the most beautiful festivals I’ve ever been a part of and to be honoured here makes it extra special. It’s a beautiful recognition because it’s about everything you’ve done, so to speak. It’s not about one performance – it’s about what you’ve dedicated a lot of your life to. So I feel fortunate; I feel very, very fortunate to be here.”

Last but by no means least, cinematographer Vladimír Smutný, who has been DP on countless domestic films, received the festival’s President’s Award for contribution to Czech cinema.

The next edition of the Karlovy Vary international film festival will get underway on July 3, 2020.