Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2012: Preview

The Czech Republic's most prestigious movie event returns to west Bohemia June 29 - July 7

Tis the time of the year again to pack a bag/suitcase/trunk or your preferred luggage and head to Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the film event of the year for filmmakers and audience alike at the spa town in Western Bohemia. From 29 June until 7 July just lay back, sip mineral water, select from 217 titles including award-winning films from A-list festivals in the past year, several retrospectives of iconic filmmakers and choose the best picture to take home the main prize.

Eight world and four international premieres will compete for the Crystal Globe in the main competition this year, including the long awaited fiction/reality film by Marek Najbrt Polski film about four schoolmates who decide to make a film together starring four well-known Czech actors. Other titles to fight for the shiny award include films reflecting current issues in their respective homelands such as Greece’s Boy Eating the Bird’s Food (To agori troi to fagito tou pouliou) by Ektoras Lygizos or Austria’s Your Beauty Is Worth Nothing (Deine Schönheit ist nichts wert...) by Hüsseyin Tabak. They will stand up against such films as Iran’s lightly ironic relationship-study The Last Step (Peleh akhar) or Mexico’s intimate drama Nos Vemos Papa by Lucía Carreras.

The opening film, Good Vibrations, about rebel and music lover Terri Hooley, leader of the Belfast punk scene, is a smartly constructed picture that lightly combines archive material with dramatic episodes, fleshing it out with humor and great music.

Like last year, a new Woody Allen film will close the festival, this time set in another European city given away in the film’s title: To Rome with Love.

A real feast is laid out this year for lovers of the international festival in the Horizons section as usual with Haneke’s latest triumph and this year’s Palme d’Or winner, Love (Amour). The film depicts an elderly couple whose love is severely tested. The enfant terrible of french cinema, Leos Carax’s latest surprise, Holy Motors is another film to see as it nearly snatched the golden award from Haneke. There are several other Cannes jewels to see as well, so check out the schedule.

Venice, Berlinale and Sundance winners will also be shown in this section: Alexander Sokurov’s Faust (Golden Lion), Ceasar Must Die (Golden Bear), and Beasts of the Southern Wild (Sundance Grand Jury and Cinematography Awards).

However, other films in this section are not to be missed such as Wes Anderson’s new film Moonrise Kingdom where two 12-year old lovers shake up the life of a scout camp when they escape adult supervision or Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share, a comedy/drama set in Scotland. Another Cannes Jury Prize winner David Cronenberg’s new drama, Cosmopolis set in the near-future New York is definitely one to see along with Cristian Mungiu’s drama, Beyond the Hills (După dealuri) this time on the topic of faith.

Three retrospectives are awaiting lovers of old cinema: to commemorate 100th anniversary of Michelangelo Antonioni’s birthday, an entire section is devoted to this talented filmmaker and will include the director’s less-known films as well as some of his early shorts.

Two other retrospectives are devoted to the icon of French post-war cinema who is often called the co-founder of the French New Wave: Jean-Pierre Melville and Reha Erdem, the Turkish director who will present his six finished films.

Among the many guests expected to arrive this year, two ladies of the silver screen are expected to receive honours: Susan Sarandon will arrive to introduce her new film Jeff Who Lives At Home, and will also receive the Crystal Globe for a life-achievement award from the hands of the festival director Jiří Bartoška. Another extraordinary actress Helen Mirren will receive the same statute for her outstanding contribution to the world of cinema.

István Szabó will return as well this year to preside over the main jury as well as deliver a masterclass on July 3rd to talk about his films and state of the world of cinema today.

The festival will also welcome British director Mark Cousins, Iran’s Amir Naderi, or America’s independent director Todd Solonz, who will introduce his film Dark Horse.

As usual, Docu Talents from the East, a panel for new documentary projects from Central and Eastern Europe will take place on July 3 and will introduce promising documentary work from the region to producers, distributors and press.

In the documentary competition section two Czech documents will compete against the best of the best this year: Pavel Abrahám’s and Tomáše Stejskal’s Two Nil (Dva nula) portrays the neverending rivalism of fans of two major Czech football teams Sparta and Slavia and Helena Třeštíková’s Private Universe (Soukromý vesmír) captures 37 years of one family life.

Czech films are also represented in the East of the West competition section with Made in Ash (Až do města Aš) by Iveta Grófová, a social drama following a Romany girl using authentic shot, and Flower Buds (Poupata), the winner of Czech Lion for best film this year.

In the traditional section of restored films renamed, Out of the Past last year, Miloš Forman’s, The Firemen’s Ball (Hoří, má panenko), will be screened. There will also be a 20-minute portrait of Manoel de Oliveira, the world’s oldest working director, by Luis Miñarro, producer of 2010 Karlovy Vary Crystal Globe winner The Mosquito Net (La Mosquitera) and coproducer of 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or winner Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Luis Miñarro will also be present at the festival.

Classics such as Lawrence of Arabia, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp and a recent documentary analyzing Kubrick’s The Shining called Room 237 will also be screened in this section.

Beyond the screen

As usual, an array of accompanying concerts, shows and late-night events will enlighten the Kolonáda during the upcoming week, so there is plenty to choose from between films or after dark.

Musical hotspots include Aeroport, the party venue right on the colonnade run by Prague cinema Kino Aero. There will be lots of concerts from local and international artists so make sure you check the events calendar on the official website.

Open-air theatre performances will take place under Chebský most every day at 4pm and 8pm. Families with children can again make use of the services of the children's center set up next to the Thermal hotel, which has prepared a range of fun activities for kids.

For a full program, see the official Karlovy Vary International Film Festival website.

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