Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicks off for 36th time

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Film buffs descended en masse upon the West Bohemian city of Karlovy Vary over the Czech holiday weekend. Organisers hope the 36th annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will attract more than 150,000 guests, for some 300 films being screened. Tricia Deering brings back this report.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Czech jazz legend Jiri Stivin was among the celebrities who turned out to take the waters, the parties and the celluloid at this spa town's famed festival. More than ever before, the festival has shed the legacy of its staid Communist founders. Andrea Szczukova from the Festival explains:

"Before, it was only a festival, sort of like a communistic and propagandistic [festival] for the Soviet Union's films. These people were coming here and showing off - everybody was in the Communist party who came here and it wasn't popular among people. So after [the Velvet Revolution in] '89, it went down and nobody would even think it would last for more years."

As film production in the former Soviet domain goes, the Czech Republic has taken the lead. Industry estimates for 2000 show that film and commercial productions in the Czech Republic clocked in at $150 million; the forecast for 2001 is 50 percent higher. Andrew Vajna, who produced both "Evita" and "American Rhapsody" in Budapest, sees no end in sight for Hollywood productions coming to this region.

"I think there are really two reasons for Hollywood to move out of its chairs or sofas in Los Angelos. One is predominately price. All these producations are getting way too expensive, and we're trying to do it more economically. And the other is location. We've sort of burned-out America, more or less, and we're looking for some fresh, new exciting places."

"Blade 2", starring Wesley Snipes, "From Hell" starring Johnny Depp and "Black Sheep" starring Anthony Hopkins are among recent Czech co-productions, and Howard Woffinden, Managing Director of Prague Studios, believes the boom will continue.

"It seems that in the sense of 'if they build it, they will come,' I think that's proving to be really quite true in this parcular situation. Because I see that inevitably, the rise in local resources is fueling the ability to serve more clients - and there are more clients wanting to come than can be served at any one time."

Stay tuned to Radio Prague for more coverage of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

Author: Tricia Deering
run audio