Zlín Film Festival kicks off 53rd edition

Photo: CTK

The Zlín Film Festival is one of the oldest in Europe, focussing largely on movies for youth and children. On Monday it began its 53rd year with screenings that included the Canadian feature film Pee Wee: The Winter that Changed My Life.

Photo: CTK
I spoke to programme director Jaroslava Hynštová, asking her how important an event it was for kids.

“I think that they really look forward to it. Our festival is one of the biggest as well as longest-running. This year is the 53rd inception and we will be screening 299 films. So, it is a big festival and we are well-known all around the world. It’s a big event not only for Zlín residents but for the whole of the Czech Republic.”

The festival doesn’t show only children’s films but let’s stay with those for a moment: it saw the first screening in competition of the Canadian film Pee Wee: The Winter that Changed My Life. What is the film about and what was the reaction?

“I really wanted this film to have its international premiere with us, it is about ice hockey and about a boy who plays hockey. Zlín is a hockey town where our team fought for the title in the playoffs. I think it is a great film for the town. The boy is great at hockey but has to move to another city with his father. Then he meets a girl who is a goaltender who tries to get him onto the team. It is really a very nice story and children will take a lot away from it.

“The reaction was amazing: the film was screened in a theatre for one thousand and there was a lot of clapping and cheering that was spontaneous. It was an amazing experience.”

'Pee Wee: The Winter that Changed My Life', photo: archive of the Zlín Film Festival
What are some of the other highlights this year?

“Obviously there are many films for kids, animated films, feature films and a new section called 1,001 nights devoted to fairy tales from all around the world. We began with Hans Christian Anderson, also because in the section for older viewers, we are screening the best in Danish films including many Oscar winners like Pelle the Conquerer and Babette’s Feast. We will also be showing work by Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg.”