Karlovy Vary International Film Festival preview

President of the Karlovy Vary Festival Jiri Bartoska, photo: CTK

On Tuesday, a crowd of cultural enthusiasts gathered at Prague's Marriott Hotel to get a glimpse into what we can expect from this year's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. For a start, over 200 films are expected to be screened at the 41st annual festival which will run in the West Bohemian town from June 30th until July 8th.

President of the Karlovy Vary Festival Jiri Bartoska,  photo: CTK
Once again, Czech film enthusiasts are gearing up for the 41st annual Karlovy Vary International Film Festival which begins in just two months. The festival is recognized as the most important film festival in Central and Eastern Europe, and it's the only A-category festival which takes place in the Czech Republic.

Among the news revealed at the first press conference is the fact that Jan Nemec, a Czech cinematic legend, will receive this year's Crystal Globe for Outstanding Achievement in World Film. Nemec became famous in the 1960s as part of the Czech New Wave, when he made films like "Diamonds of the Night" and "The Party and the Guests." On 21 August 1968 he actually filmed the Prague invasion by Warsaw Pact forces, and he used this footage in the film "Oratorio for Prague." Of course he then became an undesirable figure in the eyes of the regime, and he was forced to leave Czechoslovakia in 1974. Nemec returned to Czechoslovakia in 1990, and has enjoyed continued success since.

One of the features that makes this year's Karlovy Vary festival special is that it will be hosting a new competitive segment as part of its section called "East of the West," which screens the best productions from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and from the former Soviet Union. Eva Zaoralova is the artistic director of the festival, and she told me why this particular section was created:

Eva Zaoralova and Jiri Bartoska,  photo: CTK
"We thought that it would be something different than people can find in Cannes or in Berlin, or even in Venice. We knew the east European cinema well because these films were screened a lot in our theatres prior to 1989, and we wanted to draw attention to the fact that very interesting films are produced in these countries. From the moment our borders opened, journalists here have been primarily interested in films from Hollywood, and I don't think this is entirely correct."

I also spoke to Julietta Zacharova, the program director for the festival, and asked her what the organizers are concerned with at this stage:

"At this moment we are concerned with the program of the festival. Our submission deadline was last Friday, so of course we received tons of last-minute submissions. March and April are actually the months when we travel to different countries for private screenings; we not only attend film festival for the selections, but there are mainly private screenings in different European, and also non-European countries. At this very moment we are finalizing the selection process, inviting films, and working mainly on the competitive section."

Are you able to reveal anything about the film selection at this stage?

'Beauty in Trouble'
"As for the competition, so far we revealed three films and unfortunately, I can not tell you more at this very moment. The complete line-up for the competition will be announced fourteen days before the festival begins—this is a part of our regulations. At this stage, we have announced that we have invited the new Czech film by Jan Hrebejk, who is a very famous director not only in the Czech Republic, but also internationally. His new film, "Beauty in Trouble," will have its world premier at our festival. Then we've invited a Swedish film which will have its international premier in our competition—it's the film "Mouth to Mouth" by Bjorn Runge, who at least in our eyes belongs to one of the biggest talents not only in Swedish cinema, but in Nordic cinema in general. The third film which I would like to mention is our Polish competition title, which is called "Several People, Little Time" and it's a very remarkable film [directed by Andrzej Baranski] about a very interesting relationship between a poet and a blind woman set against the background of the 1970s in Poland."