Prague’s Biggest Film Fest Kicks off This Week

Prague’s Biggest Film Fest Kicks off This Week

Prague’s largest film festival returns to the screens of CineStar Anděl from this Thursday, March 17, with more than 200 films hitting the screens of the multiplex over the course of the 9-day festival.

Tickets to each film are a mere 89 CZK – half of what you’d normally pay at the multiplex. It’s advised to buy in advance, as many will sell out.

Almost all of the films are English-friendly, with the few exceptions clearly noted in the online festival program

Each year, the festival welcomes renowned guests from the international film community. Last year, Alan Rickman was on hand to introduce his film A Little Chaos; it would be one of the final public appearances for the actor, who died of pancreatic cancer in January.

This year, Scottish actor Peter Mullan (Trainspotting) will introduce two movies in which he stars, Jake Gavin’s Hector and Sunset Song from director Terence Davies (The House of Mirth).

German actor Daniel Brühl (Rush) will also be honored at the festival with a tribute selection that includes 2004’s festival favorite The Edukators, 2011’s Lessons of a Dream, and the new movie Colonia, which co-stars Emma Watson and Michael Nyqvist.

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Also honored: Pedro Almodóvar’s muse Carmen Maura, who will present the director’s 1988 breakthrough film Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, along with Carlos Saura’s ¡Ay Carmela!, Marion Hänsel’s In Heaven as on Earth, and the new drama Vanity from director Lionel Baier.

Other fest guests with special tribute sections include Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen), who will present Frost/Nixon and Rush; Slovenian director Jan Cvitkovič, whose latest film Šiška Deluxe is a Czech co-production; and Italian director Marco Bellocchio, whose selections at the fest span 50 years from the 1965 classic Fists in the Pocket to 2015’s Blood of My Blood.

One of the richest sections at this year’s festival is the Asian Panorama, which features new films from acclaimed directors such as South Korea’s Sang-soo Hong (Right Now, Wrong Then), and Japan’s Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Journey to the Shore), Naomi Kawase (Sweet Bean), and Takeshi Kitano (Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen).

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For Czech film fans, one of Febiofest’s highlights will be a first-look at some of the country’s upcoming films in the festival circuit. These include We Are Never Alone, the latest film from Czech Lion-winning Petr Václav (Cesta ven), and I, Olga Hepnarová, a drama about the infamous spree killer. Both films have already premiered to acclaim at international festivals, but Febiofest will offer Praguers their first glimpse.

Also on tap from local filmmakers: the Czech-Austrian co-production Menandros & Thaïs, the Czech-Slovak co-production Eva Nová, which stars renowned Slovak actress Emília Vášáryová, and Jan Bubeníček’s animated film Murderous Tales.

A section dedicated to US films includes the excellent new horror film The Witch along with the Oscar-nominated Anomalisa and Carol, and Best Picture-winning Spotlight, all of which will receive a wide release in Prague in the coming weeks/months.

10 quick picks from the festival guide:

11 Minutes, from eclectic Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski (Moonlighting):

The Clan, an Argentinean film about the country’s infamous Puccio Clan in the 1980s: 

I, Olga Hepnarová:

James White, one of the big hits from the US indie circuit last year: 

Sparrows, an Icelandic coming-of-age story that won top prizes at a number of international festivals including San Sebastián, São Paulo, and Warsaw:

Nahid, an Iranian drama that seems to be cut from the same cloth as A Separation:  

Panama, a Serbian thriller about sex and obsession in the digital age that premiered last year at Cannes: 

A Tale of Love and Darkness, the Hebrew-language directorial debut of Natalie Portman, adapting the work of Amos Oz (note: this one has not been particularly well-received):

We Are Never Alone:


Jason Pirodsky

Hailing from Syracuse, New York, Jason Pirodsky made his way to Prague via Miami and has stuck around, for better and worse, since 2004. A member of the Online Film Critics Society (www.ofcs.org), some of his favorite movies include O Lucky Man!, El Topo, Berlin Alexanderplatz, and Hellzapoppin'. Follow him on Twitter for some (slightly) more concise reviews.

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