10 Picks for FebioFest 2014

We take a look at the 21st edition of Prague’s largest film festival

2014 brings the 21st edition of FebioFest, Prague’s largest film festival, which will take over all 12 screens of the CineStar Anděl multiplex from March 21–28 before moving on to other cities in the Czech Republic throughout the following weeks.

Tickets are currently on sale via the FebioFest website and the CineStar Anděl box office at the bargain price of 89 CZK (that’s half of what you’d normally pay to see a film at the multiplex). Purchasing in advance is recommended as showtimes typically sell out quickly (indeed, a few films have already sold out since tickets went on sale last week).

Almost all films at the festival are English-friendly (either in English or containing English subtitles), but the few exceptions are clearly noted on the festival website.

This year’s festival features tributes to Serbian director Srdan Golubović, Slovak actress Barbora Bobuľová, Italian director Gianni Amelio, Ivorian actor Isaach de Bankolé (The Limits of Control), Finnish actress (and Kaurismaki favorite) Kati Outinen, and French animator Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville). 

Chomet, de Bankolé, Bobuľová and Outinen will be also be appearing in person at the fest, as will Polish actor Robert Więckiewicz, who will introduce Walesa: Man of Hope, Svein André Hofsø Myhre, a Norwegian actor with Down Syndrome and star of festival entry Detective Downs, and Czech painter and costume designer Theodor Pištěk, who will serve as the honorary chairman of the festival’s 33-member jury.

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A total of 135 films will screen during FebioFest 2014, but I’ve highlighted 10 quick picks if you’re looking for some inspiration for what to see (all are English-friendly). Some higher-profile films (Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, Spike Jonze’s Her, Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, and many others) will also be screening, but you’ll likely get a chance to see those in general release over the coming weeks and months.

10 Quick Picks:

Bad Hair (Pelo Malo)
This working-class, character-driven Venezuelan drama – about a boy whose obsession with hair sends his mother into a homophobic panic – won some rave reviews at Toronto and other International film festivals last year.

Before they shot last year’s exceedingly dark detective drama Prisoners, director Denis Villeneuve and star Jake Gyllenhaal made this much lower-profile thriller about a man obsessed with his double. Mélanie Laurent and Isabella Rossellini co-star.

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The Future (Il Futuro)
Alicia Scherson’s surreal drama has received great reviews in the New York Times (Jeannette Catsoulis) and the Village Voice (John Oursler), among other publications. Rutger Hauer co-stars in a story that charts the evolution of life following a personal tragedy.

This brutal portrayal of the effects of drug cartel on everyday life in Mexico won Amat Escalante a surprise Best Director award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. But be warned: it’s also been called one of the most realistically violent films of the year.

Korean filmmaker Ki-Duk Kim, a festival favorite in the Czech Republic, is represented at FebioFest by his latest, a dark and disturbing tale of rape, incest, and sexual dismemberment (certainly not one for the squeamish). The events of the film also unfold without any spoken dialogue.

Stranger by the Lake
This French thriller, relegated to being a specialty play due to its homosexual thematic material – gay cruising at a lakeside beach – and explicit sex scenes, nevertheless found itself on a number of year-end best-of lists last year. Director Alain Guiraudie won an Un Certain Regard directing prize at Cannes.

A Touch of Sin
The latest film from director Zhangke Jia (Still Life) also featured heavily on 2013’s year-end best-of lists. The film, detailing four seperate stories revolving around random acts of violence in modern day China, won Best Screenplay at last year’s Cannes festival.

Velvet Terrorists
This documentary with scripted re-enactments by filmmakers Ivan Ostrochovský, Pavol Pekarcik, and Péter Kerekes, follows three separate stories about radical protesters set during the years of normalization in Czechoslovakia. Winning special awards at the Karlovy Vary and Berlin film festivals, it’s one of the more anticipated local releases of the year.

Venus in Fur
Director Roman Polanski’s adaptation of the David Ives stage play is a two-character piece starring Emmanuelle Seigner (who memorably worked with the director over two decades ago in Bitter Moon) and Mathieu Amalric in the roles of actress and director. Like Polanski’s last film, Carnage, this one has bowed with little fanfare; I’m nevertheless intrigued.

Walesa, Man of Hope
The life of Nobel Peace Prize winner and beloved Polish president Lech Wałęsa is told by one of the great Polish filmmakers, Andrzej Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds, Danton, and Man of Iron – in which Wałęsa starred as himself). Expectations are high.


What will you be seeing at FebioFest 2014?

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