Film Festivals in the Czech Republic

Expats.cz looks at 25 of the best film festivals in the ČR

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky
Published on 21.02.2011 15:23 (updated on 21.02.2011)

For cinephiles living in Prague and the Czech Republic, the multitude of film festivals (while the scale may be small, there seems to be a new one each week) is a breath of fresh air from the usual multiplex (and even arthouse) fare. For non-Czech-speakers, there´s an added bonus: while most of the foreign-language films that open in Czech cinemas throughout the year are screened in their native language with Czech subtitles, a large percentage of foreign-language festival films will contain English subtitles (a necessity, given that most of these prints will only have a limited number of screenings in the Czech Republic before moving on to another festival in another country.)

Below, we´ve detailed 25+ of the larger and/or more interesting film festivals in the Czech Republic. Note: each of these is an annual affair; if you´ve missed the action this year, you can (in all likelihood) safely look forward to next year´s edition.

Projekt 100
Independent cinemas throughout the Czech Republic
Year-long

Each year, AČFK (the Association of Czech Film Clubs) selects a handful of classic films (and recent films of particular note) to be distributed at independent cinemas throughout the Czech Republic (in Prague, this includes Aero, Oko, Evald, Světozor, and other cinemas). After years of selecting bona-fide classics (last year included Herzog´s Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Jodorowsky´s The Holy Mountain, two of my favorite films), the selections have skewed to the more recent: this year´s crop includes The Good Heart (Dagur Kári, 2009), Another Year (Mike Leigh, 2010), Tatarak (Andrzej Wajda, 2009), Rewers (Andrzej Bart, 2009), Le grand amour (Pierre Étaix, 1969), and Erotikon (Gustav Machatý, 1929). Note: these foreign-language films will not contain English subtitles.

Eiga Sai
Prague, Kino Lucerna
January 21 – 27, 2011

Eiga Sai (Japanese for ‘film festival´) is a festival of (mostly) contemporary Japanese film, hosted this past year by Kino Lucerna. Tickets: 80 CZK. Festival pass: 400 CZK.

Short Film Fest
Prague, Kino Světozor
January 19 – 23, 2011

The producers of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival organize this annual festival of short films (under 25 minutes in length) hosted by Kino Světozor. In addition to the contemporary international films competing for a grand prize, the fest also presents a selection of experimental and classic shorts, which this year included Robert Zemeckis´ A Field of Honor and Věra Chytilová´s Kočičina. A single ticket (70 CZK) will get you admission to a programmed block of shorts.

Shockproof Film Festival
Prague, Kino Aero
February 1 – 6, 2011

Aero hosts this annual feast of classic and obscure cult, horror, B-movies and other films that push the limits of cinema (last year´s program included a 35mm screening of the Mitchell brothers´ hardcore porno Behind the Green Door). Highlights from this year: 35mm prints of the little-seen Ozploitationers Fair Game and Next of Kin, Mexican Luchador horror Santo vs. the Martian Invasion, underground porn horror Hardgore, and Srdjan Spasojević´s ultra-controversial A Serbian Film. Beware digibeta, (low-res) DVD, and other non-pristine projections, which is the nature of the beast for this kind of fare.

La Pelicula
Prague, Kino Světozor & Instituto Cervantes; Brno, Kino Art
February 15 – 27, 2011
Prague´s Cervantes Institute presents this festival of classic and contemporary Spanish films at Kino Světozor & Brno´s Kino Art, with a handful of free screenings held at the Cervantes Institute. This year´s offerings included Buried, an English-language thriller starring Ryan Reynolds from Spanish director Rodrigo Cortés, with Spanish and Czech subtitles.

Cinema Mundi

Brno, Palace Cinemas Velký Špalíček & Kino B. Bakala
March 2 – 9, 2011

This new festival (in its second year), hosted by Brno cinemas Velký Špalíček & B. Bakala, presents films from 60+ countries that were submitted as each country´s official selection for the 2010 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. It´s a great concept. Side sections present, if you haven´t seen them yet, highlights from Oscar-nominated films in other categories.

Cinema Conspiracy
Prague, Kino Aero
March 3 – 5, 2011

Aero hosts this short festival of conspiracy films held in early March. This year´s schedule includes a section focusing on marijuana – featuring, of course, the original Reefer Madness – and documentaries on the Catholic Church (Amy Berg´s Deliver Us from Evil), food consumption (Food Matters), and Slavoj Žižek, who hosts Sophie Fiennes essential A Pervert´s Guide to Cinema.

One World (Jeden svět)
Prague, Kino Lucerna & other venues
March 8 – 17, 2011

The annual International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival has grown exponentially, and this year presents more than 100 documentaries on the subject of human rights from 40 countries around the world at 8 Prague venues (Lucerna, Světozor, Atlas, Evald, Ponrepo, Divadlo Archa, the French Institute, and the Municipal Library). Tickets: 80 CZK.

Febio Fest
Prague, Cinestar Anděl & Ponrepo
March 24 – April 1, 2011

Prague´s largest film festival, Febio Fest celebrates its 18th year in 2011. For a week in late March, it will completely overtake the 12-screen multiplex Cinestar Anděl to deliver a wide selection of popular contemporary films that haven´t – or haven´t yet – made it into Czech cinemas. Unlike other fests, Febio has remained an audience-friendly festival with its selection of mainstream-skewing films (at least, as mainstream as a film fest can get) in a comfortable multiplex environment with a low price of admission – 85 CZK.

Note: after Febio Fest, a selection of films from the festival will be presented during Echoes of Febio Fest in Liberec, Hradec Kralove, Pardubice, Plzeň, České Budějovice, Brno, Olomouc and Ostrava.

Academia Film Olomouc
Olomouc
April 12 – 17, 2011

Academia Film Olomouc (AFO), which turns 46 in 2011, is one of the world´s premiere festivals focusing on science films; hosted by Palacký University in Olomouc, it welcomes professionals in the fields of film and science to a creative learning environment. These aren´t just your average educational films; past years´ crops have included the BBC documentaries Planet Earth and Life.

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Days of European Film
Prague, Kino Světozor & Lucerna; Brno, B. Bakala
April 14 – 20, 2011

This film festival, now in its 18th year, presents a selection of contemporary films from countries across Europe. Co-organized by the Czech Ministry of Culture.

Finále Festival of Czech Films
Plzeň
April 17 – 23, 2011

Finále is a competitive festival that surveys Czech films produced in the past year, with separate sections for narrative features and documentaries. Past winners typically highlight the best in contemporary Czech cinema, from Hřebejk’s Divided We Fall and Pupendo to Švankmajer’s Little Otik and Bohdan Sláma’s Something Like Happiness. Most films are provided with English subtitles – the Finále fest is a great, and rare, chance to see current Czech film with English subtitles in a Czech cinema.

Anifilm
Třeboň
May 3 – 8, 2011

This festival of Czech & world animated films is held annually in Třeboň, South Bohemia. Feature-length films along with shorts are presented; 2010´s festival saw current mainstream animation (Up, Astro Boy, Coraline) alongside classics (Fantasia) and shorts from Rene Laloux, Aardman Studios, and many others (including Logorama, which won the Best Animated Short Oscar for 2009).

Zlín Film Festival

Zlín
May 30 – June 6, 2011

One of the oldest film festivals in the Czech Republic (the Karlovy Vary fest dates further back, but due to a hiatus the Zlín fest has actually celebrated more instances – 51 in 2011), the Zlín Film Festival focuses on international films for children and youth, which includes animation and other youth-centered movies. Accompanying programs includes screenings of films in Prague and other cities across the Czech Republic.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Karlovy Vary
July 1 – 9, 2011

The largest and most prestigious film festival in the Czech Republic, the KVIFF, now in its 46th year, presents hundreds of films across a number of categories in front of some high-profile guests (recent attendees have included Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Redford, Sharon Stone, and many others). On tap for 2011, initial programming details have highlighted tributes to Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Oscar-nominated for Incendies) and legendary director Sam Fuller, and a retrospective on young Greek directors that will include Yorgos Lanthimos´s Dogtooth. The historic spa town of Karlovy Vary really comes alive for the fest; for non-press and non-industry guests, some screenings can be difficult to get into.

 

Of note for Praguers: the Echoes of Karlovy Vary fest brings some of KVIFF´s popular films to Prague cinemas Aero and Světozor in the weeks after KVIFF.

Summer Film School (Letní filmová škola Uherské Hradiště)
Uherské Hradiště
July 22 – 31, 2011

The Summer Film School at Uherské Hradiště in South Moravia, which will celebrate its 37th year in 2011, is more a film festival than the name implies; in addition to the abundant screenings, however, additional side content includes lectures, panel discussion, and workshops, a “systematic method of learning about film and through film.” Recent years´ guests have included Václav Havel, Terry Gilliam, Michael Haneke, and Ken Loach, among others.

River Film Fest
Písek
July 29 – August 5, 2011

This relatively new festival, now in its third year, is hosted by the historic town of Písek in South Bohemia (also home to the Film Academy of Miroslav Ondříček). 2011 promises cinematic selections on “God/A History of Greek Cinema/From Caligari to Hitler/Diagnosis by Time.”

International Mountaineering Film Festival
Teplice nad Metují
August 25 – 28, 2011

A specific, but popular, festival focusing on mountain climbing films, the International Mountaineering Film Festival celebrates its 28th year in 2011.

Fresh Film Fest
Various Prague venues
August, 2011 TBA

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The Fresh Film Fest, or the International Festival of First Features and Student Films, screens some 150+ international student and first films in a variety of Prague venues (Aero, Světozor, Palac Akropolis, Divadlo Ponec, and more.) A continuation of a project held in conjunction with the Karlovy Vary fest since 1977, Fresh Film Fest typically has its own section at KVIFF in advance of the actual festival.

Jihlava Documentary Festival
Jihlava
October 25 – 30, 2011

Now in its 15th year, the Jihlava Documentary Festival is one of the largest festivals of its kind. Films awarded at the 2010 fest included Susana de Sousa Dias´ 48 and Andrei Ujica´s The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu.

TOURFILM 
Karlovy Vary
October, 2011 TBA

TOURFILM is the International Film Festival on Tourism Films held annually in Karlovy Vary; while its commercial appeal may be limited, the fest is increasingly popular among its sector, and will celebrate its 45th edition in 2011. Organized by Czech Tourism.

Bollywood Film Festival
Prague, Kino Světozor
October, 2011 TBA

The Bollywood Film Festival, or more appropriately, the Prague Indian Film Festival, will celebrate its ninth year in 2011. It presents a selection of (mostly) contemporary Indian film – not only stylized Bollywood musicals – at Kino Světozor.

Read more about the past edition of the festival here.


European Student Film Festival

Prague, International School of Prague
November 2 – 6, 2011

The European Student Film Festival, now in its 6th year, gives high school students from across Europe a chance to present their work in a competitive festival environment. Open to grades 9 – 13 (ages 14 – 18), winners receive film equipment donated by festival sponsors.

Normal Festival
Prague, Kino Světozor & Aero
November, 2011 TBA

Normal Festival is a film, theatre, and art festival that focuses on the subject of learning disabilities. It´s organized by Inventura, a platform that supports the artistic work of those with learning disabilities; cinemas Aero and Světozor host the cinematic portions of the fest.

Mezipatra
Prague, Brno, Český Těšín
November, 2011 TBA

Mezipatra (mezzanine in English – the intermediate floor between a building´s main floors) is the Czech Republic´s premiere LGBT festival, featuring a wide variety of LGBT-themed films in a number of venues across three Czech cities. Last year´s fest opened with Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman´s Howl, an Alan Ginsberg biopic starring James Franco.

Read more about the past edition of the festival here.

FAMU Fest
Prague
November, 2011 TBA

This festival of (mostly short) student films from the local film academy FAMU is held annually in November.

French Film Festival
Independent cinemas throughout the Czech Republic
November, 2011 TBA

The French Film Festival, which will turn 14 in 2011 is held annually in November/December throughout Prague, Brno, České Budějovice, Hradec Králové, Olomouc, Ostrava, Pardubice, and Plzeň. The focus is on (mostly) contemporary French and French-language features; this past year, they showcased one of my favorite films from 2010, Olivier Assayas´ Carlos.

Other fests to watch out for: ANEMIC Festival of Independant Film and New Art, which celebrated its first year in November 2010 with no grants and little funding; additional foreign-language festivals in Prague, including Der Film, and Russian, Korean, Latin American-based fests,  typically held in Kino Světozor; and Festival Fantazie, one of the largest science fiction conventions in Europe (comparable to Worldcon), which will be held July 1 – 7 in Chotěboř – it´s not strictly a film festival, but contains an accompanying cinematic program.

Did we miss any film fests of note? Please let us know through the form below.