Prague’s Febiofest movie showcase “for everybody” gets underway

'A Faithful Man', photo: archive of Febiofest

Prague’s biggest movie event, Febiofest, kicks off on Thursday. Now in its 26th year, the festival gives many movies set for local cinema distribution their first screenings but also showcases scores of works that film buffs would otherwise have trouble tracking down. Ahead of Febiofest’s curtain-raiser, I asked its co-programme director Anna Kopecká what this year’s highlights were likely to be.

'A Faithful Man',  photo: archive of Febiofest
“For me, the highlights are always the guests and the films where we can have a live introduction by the guests.

“So I’m mainly looking forward to meeting Louis Garrel, the French actor and director, who will come with his latest film, A Faithful Man.

“We will also show The Dreamers by Bernardo Bertolucci, in which he played one of the leading roles.

“Also the British director Peter Strickland will come to present his short film which is part of the [anthology] film The Field Guide to Evil, which is part of our Night Circus programme.”

The main competition at Febiofest is called New Europe and is focused on debut films by European directors. Why is that the focus of the competition?

“Febiofest is a festival for everybody, so we have a lot of films from Hollywood studios, US independent films, documentaries, films for children.

“But one of our main aims is to promote new names, new visions and new ideas.

'The Dreamers',  photo: archive of Febiofest
“And of course we like to focus on Europe, which is closest to us culturally and socially.

“It’s a good opportunity to bring directors and producers to Prague and then to talk to them about new films, about how to make a debut and how to distribute new films from unknown directors.

“This year is special because we have older directors; they are not young but they are first-time directors, sometimes over 40.

“So that’s also an interesting turning point – what does it mean to make a film not just when you get out of film school?”

You say Febiofest is for everybody. Is it targeted at different people, or a different audience, than, for example, the Karlovy Vary film festival?

“I think the main difference is that we are in the middle of March, in Prague, which means that we cannot make people go on vacation and go to some other part of the Czech Republic and have fun all day.

“We really try to think about our audience as real people who have jobs, who go to school, so we plan screenings according to people’s normal lives.

“But I know personally several people who really take off just for the festival and go to see 60 films.

“Of course most people go at the weekend or in the evening.

“Or, for example, we have a documentary section, Docs, and we show these films mainly in the afternoon for people who like to go from work to see something interesting.”