Summer is here, which means the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF). This year’s festival – the 45th – opens on July 2nd with Crazy Heart, closes on the 10th with The Heartbreakers, and will cram the intervening week with screenings, dinners, award ceremonies, soirees and champagne receptions. If you enjoy celebrity spotting, film industry gossip, or even movies it’s not to be missed.
History of KVIFF
Founded in 1946 to promote the new nationalized film industry, the festival was originally split between Karlovy Vary and nearby Mariánské Lázně, and didn’t become the Karlovy Vary Film Festival until ’48. From the late 40s the Communist Party nominated films, chose winners and selected guests, turning the festival into a cog in the propaganda machine. After the Velvet Revolution it fell into disfavour, and was close to bankruptcy in the early 90s. In 1994 actor Jiří Bartoška and film critic Eva Zaoralová spearheaded a re-launch backed by the Ministry of Culture and Karlovy Vary’s Grandhotel Pupp. Within a few years KVIFF was the largest film festival in Eastern Europe, serving as a springboard for films like Caroline Link’s Nowhere in Africa and Sergey Bodrov’s Prisoner of the Mountains. The festival has been particularly lucky for French movies, with Amelie, My Life in Pink and The Choristers all screening here before winning box-office success and international awards.
Crazy Heart (USA, 2009), dir. Scott Cooper
Opening this year´s festival is music-drama Crazy Heart. Last year´s Cinderella story, the film was funded by Country Music TV, made for $7 million and due to go straight to DVD. It was picked up by Fox Searchlight at the 11th hour and given a theater release, winning critical plaudits and two Academy Awards. The movie follows fictional down-and-out country singer Bad Blake (Jeff Bridges, in his first Academy Award winning role) who tries to turn his life around after meeting single mother Jean (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Co-starring Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell, it is the first film by writer-director Scott Cooper, previously an actor.
Sweet Evil / L’ enfance du mal (France, 2009), dir. Olivier Coussemacq
Coussemacq, an established French TV director, has chosen KVIFF for the premier of an unsettling psychological thriller Sweet Evil, his first feature. The film, selected for the official competition, charts the life of 15-year old Celine, a homeless waif who insinuates herself into the home and affections of a wealthy couple with a series of lies, which quickly begin to unravel.
The Reverse/Rewers (2009, Poland), dir. Borys Lankosz
A powerful cocktail of thriller, period drama and black comedy, Borys Lankosz´ The Reverse tells the story of a bookish woman who falls for a secret policeman during the Stalinist terror. Screened in the Variety Critics´ Choice section, the film, shot part in brooding black-and-white, part in color, is the debut narrative feature of documentary maker Lankosz, and the first film in 15 years to come out of Studio Kadr, home to the leading Polish filmmakers of the 50s and 60s.
Heartbreaker/L´arnacoeur (2010, France, Monaco), dir. Pascal Chaumeil
Exhibiting out of competition, here´s one to please the crowds. Another feature film directorial debut, Heartbreaker is a light romantic comedy starring Romain Duris (The Beat that my Heart Skipped) and Vanessa Paradis (Girl on the Bridge). Alex (Duris) is part of a brother-sister business venture breaking up relationships for a fee. Their target is Juliette (Paradis), a glowing bride-to-be whose wealthy father disapproves of the man she´s planning to marry in one week´s time.
The films of Powell and Pressburger
This year KVIFF pays homage to one of the great movie partnerships of all time, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (“the archers”) who made 20 films together including British classics A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. Introducing their films is Powell´s widow Thelma Schoonmaker, (Michael Scorcese´s editor and winner of three Oscars) and Pressburger´s grandsons Andrew Macdonald, producer of Trainspotting, Shallow Grave and The Beach, and his brother Kevin, the director of One Day In September, The Last King of Scotland, and State of Play. The Red Shoes, a film which is to the eye what a Belgian chocolate shop is to the tongue, will be shown in the digitally re-mastered version sponsored by Martin Scorsese, which premiered at Cannes last year.
· You can reserve tickets in advance from 10 am Monday 28th June – 12 pm Tuesday 29th June at www.kviff.com
· You can reserve up to four tickets per day and two per screening.
· No discounts are available on reserved tickets and they cannot be bought with a Festival Pass.
· Tickets are 65 CZK, 50 CZK for concessions.
· A Festival Pass costs between 200 CZK (for one day) and 1000 CZK (for the whole festival) and provides a 50% discount on tickets, as well as free access to screenings where there are available seats if you arrive 5 minutes before the film begins.
· Outside of the reservation period, tickets are sold for that day and the next day only.
· Tickets can be bought or picked up from any of the ticket offices.
From Prague the quickest way to reach Karlovy Vary is by bus. There are also regular trains from Prague Central Station (Hlavní nádraží).
Thermal Hotel on I.P Pavlova runs daycare centers (at the hotel) from 8:45 am – 8 pm for children aged 18 months to 12 years.
Festival website home page
Ticket sales and ticket office locations
Festival travel information / Czech Rail / Bus and train booking
Map of Karlovy Vary