Prague´s largest film festival, Febio Fest, returns to Prague cinemas from March 25 to April 4 and to cinemas throughout the Czech Republic from April 5 – 18. In Prague, the fest will take over the multiplex CineStar Anděl (formerly Village Cinemas Anděl) in Prague 5 and will screen a smaller selection of films at the arthouse Ponrepo in Old Town.
Always a visitor-friendly festival, Febio Fest doesn´t offer special accreditation of press or industry, instead offering up all tickets to the public at the bargain price of 79 CZK per film – roughly half of what an adult ticket would normally cost at the multiplex. Note: Sale of tickets begins at 13:00 on Wednesday, March 17th at Cinestar Anděl and at 24:00 online. Tickets to higher-profile films are likely to sell out in advance.
Of special interest to English-speaking film fans: most of the foreign-language films screening at the fest will contain English subtitles (in addition to Czech ones). Check the festival program to make sure. Outside of other festivals like Karlovy Vary, this is a rare opportunity to see a large number of foreign-language films subtitled in English in Czech cinemas.
This year´s tributes pay honor to contemporary Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam (all five of his festival films screen with English subtitles), Russian director Larisa Sadilova, UK directors Terence Davies (The Long Day Closes, The House of Mirth, Of Time and the City, and Distant Voices, Still Lives) and Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire, Greystoke, Revolution, My Life So Far) and documentarians Peter Brosens and Jessica Hope Woodworth.
Tributes to German actors Bruno Ganz and Hanna Schygulla feature two notable highlights, subtitled in English: Eric Rohmer´s The Marquise of O, featuring Ganz, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder´s The Marriage of Maria Braun, starring Schygulla.
English-language award-season favorites – some of which will open wide in the Czech Republic in the coming months, while others will debut on DVD – include Duncan Jones´ excellent sci-fi Moon, Oliver Hirschbiegel´s Five Minutes of Heaven, Lone Scherfig´s An Education, Jane Campion´s Bright Star, Lee Daniels´ Precious, Ken Loach´s Looking for Eric, and Spike Jonze´s Where the Wild Things Are.
Also screening at the fest are the Jim Carrey/Ewan McGregor drama I Love You, Philip Morris, which has yet to receive a release in the US, and one of my favorite films from 2009: Wes Anderson´s magical The Fantastic Mr. Fox, which currently isn´t slated for a theatrical release in the Czech Republic.
Here´s ten films playing the fest that shouldn´t be overlooked:
Taking it’s cues from Lars and the Real Girl, this is a Japanese Pinocchio-like story involving a blow-up sex doll that comes to life, from festival-favorite director Hirokazu Koreeda (Still Walking, Nobody Knows).
Enter the Void
Gaspar Noé´s first feature since 2002´s Irreversible. That film gained instant notoriety for a brutal fire extinguisher murder and a Monica Belluci rape scene, but the director also displayed a Kubrick-like precision for his craft. This one looks wildly indulgent; check out the opening credits sequence.
The Fish Child
The second feature from Argentinean director Lucía Puenzo, whose previous hermaphrodite film XXY was a huge hit on the festival circuit. This one follows a pair of young girls who turn to a life of crime.
No One Knows About Persian Cats
Music-drama from Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi (Turtles Can Fly, A Time for Drunken Horses) follows an Iranian´s band´s efforts to leave the country for a London concert.
This has been called an Elephant-like dramatization of the infamous 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal, in which anti-feminist gunman Marc Lépine took the lives of fourteen female students. Denis Villeneuve directs.
Who wouldn´t want to follow in the footsteps of John Travolta´s famed Saturday Night Fever character? Pablo Larraín´s film, set against the backdrop of the Pinochet regime in Chile, follows a Travolta-obsessed serial killer.
Tales from the Golden Age 1 and 2
Romanian anthology looks at urban legends from the communist years. Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days) wrote and co-directed the project with Hanno Höfer, Razvan Marculescu, Constantin Popescu, and Ioana Uricaru.
Nighthawks and Strip Jack Naked: Nighthawks II
1978´s Nighthawks (not to be confused with the Sylvester Stallone thriller by the same title) was a milestone in queer cinema, and in 1991 director Ron Peck revisited the material, incorporating all the events that affected the community through the 1980s. Here´s a rare chance to catch both films on the big screen.
This infamous Revolutionary War flop killed the career of director Hugh Hudson (Chariots of Fire, Greystoke), and almost took star Al Pacino with him (this was the only film the actor made in a six-year period in the 80s.) But it´s still an interesting, perhaps unjustly maligned movie, and this might be your only chance to catch it in a theatrical setting.
The Passion of Joan of Arc
Carl Theodor Dryer´s 1928 film is rightly regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made; it frequently appears on Sight and Sound´s top ten polls. BERG Orchestra will perform an original score by Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavičius to accompany the film live during two screenings at Lucerna March 31st & April 1st. Note: the film is silent, with French intertitles unsubtitled in English at these screenings.
Pictured up top: Noé’s Enter the Void