Tribute to reflect Miloš Forman’s “close friendship” with Karlovy Vary

Miloš Forman, photo: Tomáš Adamec, ČRo

This year’s Karlovy Vary film festival will begin with a tribute to the late director Miloš Forman in the form of a screening of Loves of a Blonde followed by a concert of music from his movies. Organisers have also revealed that the festival’s President’s Award will go to Czech acting great Jaromír Hanzlík. I spoke to Karlovy Vary’s artistic director Karel Och and began by asking about the relationship between the country’s biggest film event and Miloš Forman.

Miloš Forman, photo: Tomáš Adamec
“It was a very close friendship, it was a very close relationship, throughout years.

“It started a long time ago with his personal relationship with Eva Zaoralová, the long-time artistic director and now artistic consultant of the festival.

“Miloš Forman came a few times after the fall of communism, the first time on a bicycle, as is widely known. He came to present some of his films.

“He helped us a lot, especially in the ‘90s, to bring very interesting, famous guests from overseas, people who he had worked with, such as Woody Harrelson, Michael Douglas, etc.

“He was very supportive and very kind to the festival and our audience always loved to see him and to spend time with him.”

I’m sure the opening with the screening of Loves of a Blonde will be a very exciting and emotional moment for a lot of people. But of all of his films, why did you choose that one?

“It’s one of his films that many people know but only a few of them have actually seen it on the big screen.

“It’s one of these cases of a so-called famous film that people don’t really know that much.

'Loves of a Blonde', photo: Czech Television
“We showed The Firemen’s Ball in a restored version a few years ago so we didn’t want to repeat that one.

“And Black Peter was recently restored and released in Czech cinemas. So we went for the, let’s say, least known of the trio of his Czechoslovak films.”

You’ve just announced that the festival’s President’s Award will be going to the actor Jaromír Hanzlík. For many people internationally he maybe won’t be an instantly recognisable name – but he has been in many, many important Czech films.

“Yes, he’s been in the films of Karel Kachyňa, he’s been in the films of Antonín Máša, films which in a way marked the 1960s.

“He has been one of the most amazing talents in the history of Czech film and theatre.

“As far as I know, when he was 18 he applied to the acting academy and was accepted but never entered the school, because he was immediately invited to work at Divadlo na Vinohradech, the famous theatre.

“So his talent was immense. At some point, I believe in the early ‘90s, he stopped acting but now he’s slowly coming back and I think people will be just happy to see him in his work.”

Richard Linklater, photo: LBJ Foundation – DIG13743-100, CC BY 2.0
Prior to today you announced that Richard Linklater was coming to Karlovy Vary with the Austin Film Society – could you tell us something about that section of the festival.

“Kryštof Mucha, the executive director of the festival, and myself have been going to Sundance for the last 12 years and especially in the second half of this period we have been hearing more and more the name of the Austin Film Society, connected to the co-production of films presented at Sundance.

“So we started to be more interested in this institution and found out about its extreme importance in terms of not only Texan but American filmmaking and film education, which is a very important aspect of what Linklater and his friends have been doing since 1985.

“We will present nine feature-length films such as films by Linklater himself with Slacker, Computer Chess by Andrew Bujalski, Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols – films made by filmmakers who were either born in Texas or went there and stayed in Texas because they felt the conditions for filmmaking were really good there.”