Karlovy Vary Film Fest Turns 50

Richard Gere, Harvey Keitel and others to attend the 50th year of KVIFF this weekend

One of the most celebrated film festivals in Europe, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2015. The festival dates back to 1946, and for most of its history was held every two years; it turned into an annual event from 1994.

From July 3 to 11, the spa town of Karlovy Vary will become host to thousands of film fans from across the globe, who will attend the festival alongside Hollywood stars and directors on hand to present their films.

Celebrities at this year’s festival include Richard Gere, who will receive the festival’s Crystal Globe.

The festival will open this Friday, with the Gere-starring Time Out of Mind, directed by Oren Moverman (The Messenger, Rampart). Jena Malone, who will attend the screening alongside Gere and the director, co-stars in the film about a man forced to survive on the streets in New York City.

Gere also stars in Franny, the feature debut of director Andrew Renzi, who will be on hand to present the film. Renzi also appeared at last year’s fest for a screening of his documentary Fishtail.

Harvey Keitel will also attend the festival to accompany the film Youth. The latest feature from Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty), Youth opened to warm reviews at Cannes early this year; Michael Caine and Jane Fonda co-star.

Seven years ago, Keitel appeared in one of the festival’s trailers:

Mel Gibson, who received the Crystal Globe at last year’s festival, stars in the official 2015 festival trailer, which will premiere at the festival.

Other guests of the festival include actor Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) and director Sean Ellis (Cashback), who will present their new film Anthropoid, currently in pre-production. Anthropoid, an account of the WWII assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, will begin shooting in Prague later this summer.

Director George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead) will also be on hand to present the classic Powell-Pressburger film The Tales of Hoffman. Directors attending the fest to present their latest movies include Ryan Fleck (Mississippi Grind), Dagur Kári (Virgin Mountain), Min Kyu-dong (The Treacherous), and others.

Competing in the Official Selection for the Crystal Globe at this year’s festival are thirteen features making their international festival debuts, including the Danish historical drama Gold Coast, the German comedy Heil, from director Dietrich Brüggemann (Stations of the Cross), and the Czech Republic’s The Snake Brothers, which I reviewed earlier this year.

Past winners of the Crystal Globe at Karlovy Vary include Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie, Sergei Bodrov’s Prisoner of the Mountains, Ken Loach’s Kes, and others.

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This year’s festival jury includes Tim League, founder of Austin’s famed Alamo Drafthouse, Icelandic actor Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (The Deep), Russian director Angelina Nikonova, producer Hengameh Panahi, and Ondřej Zach, Senior Vice President for HBO Europe.

Other highlights from this year’s festival program include The Lobster, from Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), which opened to some raves at Cannes; Stop, the latest from KVIFF favorite Kim Ki-Duk (3-Iron); Tale of Tales, a fantasy anthology from Matteo Garrone (Gomorrah); and Reality, the latest piece of surrealism from Mr. Oizo/Quentin Dupieux (Rubber, Wrong Cops).

Going to this year’s fest from Prague? Karlovy Vary is about two hours away by bus, and the festival center at the Thermal Hotel is a fifteen minute walk from the bus station. Practical info on getting to and around the festival can be found on the official website.

Advance tickets went on sale this morning (10% of the total number of tickets were available) and were quickly sold out within eight minutes.

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Festival passes – which entitle the holders to three tickets per day, and the possibility of last-minute entrance to other screenings (there’s always space) can be had from 250 CZK a day to 1200 for the whole festival. More info here.

Even with a festival pass, however, getting into a screening at KVIFF is an accomplishment in itself. But the experience of the Karlovy Vary International film festival isn’t limited to the films themselves – side programs feature concerts, parties, and much more. The festival’s 50th anniversary in 2015 couldn’t be a better time to check this spa town out.

TIP: Karlovy Vary’s Summer Cinema, which will screen Pretty Woman with Gere in attendance this Saturday and a surprise film to close the festival on the 11th. The outdoor venue holds thousands, but arrive early to get a good seat. 

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Turns 50

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