FebioFest Preview 2013

Tips and picks for Prague’s largest film festival, now in its 20th year

FebioFest, Prague’s largest film festival, returns to the city to overtake CineStar Anděl’s 12 screens from March 14-22 before moving on to other Czech cities through late March and early April. Tickets (at the low price of 89 CZK) are currently on sale at the cinema’s box office.

Special sections at this year’s fest include those devoted to films from Finland and the Balkans, along with “Cinderella”, which presents a selection of mid-length (30-60 minute) films that includes new work by Hal Hartley and Mike Leigh. New Czech films are well-represented with My Dog Killer, which just won the top prize at this year’s Rotterdam festival, and Bez doteku, the feature debut of 18-year-old(!) director Matěj Chlupáček

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This year’s tributes include those to Polish actor-director Jerzy Stuhr, British producer Jeremy Thomas, Finnish director Aku Louhimies, Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini, British director Richard Lester, Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, Filipino director Brillante Mendoza, and Czech actress Zdena Studenková. Thomas, Lester, Seidl, Stuhr, Studenková, and Louhimies will make appearances at the fest; other guests include actress Geraldine Chaplin and Polish director Agnieszka Holland.

A Music Festival – taking place in the parking garage beneath the cinema – runs concurrently with the fest, and features performances by local artists including Traband, Atari Terror, Allstar Refjúdží Band, and many others. Admission is free.

Note: while many of the films presented at FebioFest are in English or contain English subtitles, some are not English-friendly; the festival’s website denotes these films with an asterisk (*).

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10 Quick picks (each of the following is in English or contains English subtitles):

  • One of the films I’m most looking forward to at this year’s fest is The Place Beyond the Pines, starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper; Blue Valentine, the previous movie from director Derek Cianfrance, was one of my favorite films of 2010 (March 16 at 23:15; March 17 at 18:15; March 18 at 15:45)

  • Fighting a lack of state funding for feature projects, Hungarian director Geőrgy Pálfi (Taxidermia) edited together Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen using clips from hundreds of classics films and television shows from the past century; the result promises to be a cinephile’s dream (March 15 at 20:00; March 16 at 17:30; March 17 at 15:00)

  • Beyond the Hills, from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days) won awards for Best Script and Best Actress at last year’s Cannes film festival; the film charts the maturing relationship of two young lesbian lovers in Moldavia (March 20 at 20:45; March 21 at 15:45; March 22 at 23:15)


  • Continuing the lesbian theme, it’s been a long time since auteur Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables) was relevant (back to 2002’s Femme Fatale, at least), but Passion, starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, looks satisfyingly steamy (March 18 at 23:15; March 19 at 20:45; March 20 at 18:15)

  • Me and You represents the first film from master filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor) since 2003’s The Dreamers. The small-scale (mostly two-character) film is also the director’s first in his native Italian in over 30 years (March 17 at 21:00; March 18 at 18:30; March 20 at 16:00)

  • Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep – a 60s-set thriller centered around activist group Weather Underground – features an outstanding cast, though the release pattern (it has already opened in foreign markets before bowing in the US) suggests potential issues (March 19 at 15:45; March 21 at 23:15; March 22 at 20:45)

  • Ursula Meier’s Sister, starring Léa Seydoux and Gillian Anderson, was Switzerland’s official submission to the 2012 Academy Awards. The film, set at a Swiss ski resort, also won a Silver Bear at last year’s Berlin International Film Festival (March 15 at 15:30; March 16 at 23:00; March 19 at 18:00)


  • The Last Sentence, the latest film from legendary Swedish director Jan Troell (The New Land, The Emigrants), examines the life of journalist Torgny Segerstedt, noted for his anti-Nazi stance in the years leading up to and during WWII (March 19 at 17:00; March 20 at 14:30; March 21 at 19:15)

  • Not Dead (Le grand soir) is the latest black comedy from surrealist directors Benoît Delépine and Gustave Kervern (Aaltra, Mammuth); the film, about a pair of brothers who start a makeshift revolution, won a Special Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes festival (March 15 at 15:30; March 16 at 22:00; March 17 at 19:30)

  • The tribute to producer Jeremy Thomas includes two of my very favorite films, Nicolas Roeg’s Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession (which features scenes set at the Czech-Austrian border), with Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell and Harvey Keitel, and Nagisa Ôshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, starring David Bowie and Tom Conti as British soldiers in a Japanese POW camp; director Ôshima passed away earlier this year.

Those are my picks for this year’s fest. What are you looking forward to seeing?


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