Major stars come out on Karlovy Vary opening weekend

Russell Crowe and Britney Theriot

The 57th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicked off in great style at the weekend. The major Hollywood stars Russell Crowe and Ewan McGregor both received awards – and wowed the crowds – at the start of the region’s biggest cinema event.

There was huge excitement as Russell Crowe arrived at the red carpet at the start of the 57th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Friday night.

Russell Crowe | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The multiple Oscar-winning star received the Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema at the festival’s glitzy opening ceremony.

After picking up the prize he also played a free concert for thousands of fans in front of main venue Hotel Thermal.

But earlier in the evening Russell Crowe told the event’s KVIFF.TV that playing the show had in fact been his principal motivation for coming to West Bohemia.

“I was ignorant to this whole thing until just a little while ago, maybe eight, nine months ago, when people started bringing this up. And I’m just amazed by this place. It’s so beautiful and the level of organisation of the festival is, quite frankly, better than any other festival I’ve ever been to. So I’m a little bit surprised that I haven’t been here before and I haven’t heard about it. I’m looking forward to getting the award, that’s going to be nice. But I’m really looking forward to rocking this town.”

Russell Crowe’s concert with band Indoor Garden Party was very well received.

Russell Crowe | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

But for some the highlight of the evening was the curtain-raising film, Firebrand. It’s about Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, and stars Alicia Vikander, who received the festival’s President’s Award – and was accompanied by her actor husband Michael Fassbender.

Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

In a red carpet interview the Swedish actress explained the appeal of playing Catherine Parr.

“I didn’t know that much about her, maybe because I wasn’t brought up with British history in the same way as my colleagues on that film. But she was a woman who was pretty extraordinary. Not only did she survive and live with Henry VIII – she also published books in her own name, which no woman had done in that period of time.”

Ewan McGregor with his doughter Clara | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

Saturday night at Karlovy Vary belonged to Ewan McGregor. He was introducing his latest film, I Sing Loud, You Sing Louder, in which he stars alongside daughter Clara McGregor.

The Scottish star of Trainspotting and Star Wars also received the President’s Award – and spoke about key works in his career on the red carpet.

“I don’t single any of them out. Some of the ones that nobody ever saw are maybe important to me for other reasons. There’s obviously stuff like Trainspotting, which was very good for me in terms of what it became and also how much I loved it. And it made people know my work internationally as opposed to just in Britain, I suppose. So that was a big one. And there are obvious other ones, I suppose [laughs].”

Ewan McGregor | Photo: Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary