Success for Czech filmmakers at 56th Karlovy Vary

Czech filmmakers had a Karlovy Vary International Film Festival to remember this year: The Best Director and Best Actor prizes went to home names, while the first edition of the Proxima competition was won by a Czech documentary.

Hotel Thermal | Photo: Juan Pablo Bertazza,  Radio Prague International

The 56th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival ended on Saturday evening with a glitzy closing ceremony at the Grand Hall of the spa town’s Hotel Thermal.

And domestic filmmakers grabbed the limelight, winning a number of the top prizes.

The Best Director prize – chosen by a jury with no Czech members – went to Beata Parkanová for The Word. It’s a family drama centred on the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

Beata Parkanová | Photo: Slavomír Kubeš,  ČTK

Beata Parkanová spoke to festival TV a short while after receiving the prestigious award.

“I knew the outline of the story in the film from my own grandparents. As for its message, I’d like every viewer to experience the film on the basis of who they are, and in what phase of life they are. But I think there is a clear message in The Word, which is that if you have somebody in your life who holds you close, that’s pretty much the greatest thing you can have.”

Slovo (2022) oficiální HD trailer

Martin Finger | Photo: Kateřina Šulová,  ČTK

The Word also took a second important prize at Karlovy Vary: Best Actor for Martin Finger. In the film he plays a principled notary whose family come under increasing pressure over his refusal to join the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Finger said the part was close to him.

“He defends moral principles and demands values that should apply between people that, in my view, would make things better for us. And that was very close to me. I portrayed somebody who personified that approach and I could only identify – and wish for the same in my own life.”

Summer With Hope | Photo:  Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The top Crystal Globe for Best Film at Karlovy Vary went to Summer With Hope, a nuanced drama by Iranian director Sadaf Foroughi. She was overjoyed when she spoke to KVIFF TV.

“Oh my God, it is an honour. My love to Karlovy Vary and to the Czech Republic, because I am very much inspired by Milan Kundera, Kafka and Czechoslovak New Wave cinema – so you can understand what it means.”

Tomáš Bojar and Adéla Komrzý | Photo: Kateřina Šulová,  ČTK

This year Karlovy Vary had a new section, Proxima, focused on emerging directors and fresh approaches. It was also won by Czech filmmakers, specifically Adéla Komrzý and Tomáš Bojar for the documentary Art Talent Show, which explores entrance exams at different studios at Prague’s Academy of Fine Arts. Tomáš Bojar had this to say:

“They are three specific studios with three specific pairs of teachers. So even though it might appear it has the potential to offer a general view, one should remember that if we had gone to different studios the film would offer a different view. We’re not pretending it’s universal or, heaven forbid, objective.”

Photo: Magdalena Hrozínková,  Radio Prague International