Czech film wins at KVIFF

The festival drew to a close with Jeremy Renner as the final big starring

The 52nd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival drew to a close July 8, wrapping up more than a week of films, public talks by stars and industry networking.

The festival was attended by 13,734 accredited visitors, with 11,544 using festival passes, plus 398 filmmakers, 1,165 film professionals, and 617 journalists. There were 505 film screenings and 140,067 tickets were sold. Some 207 different films were shown.

A Czech film won the main competition for the Crystal Globe for the first time in 15 years. Václav Kadrnka's historical drama Little Crusader (Krizácek) stars Karel Roden as a knight looking for his lost son at the time of the Crusades.

The film was adapted from a poem. “I'm overjoyed. There was a lot of uncertainty in the film from the beginning; it was a long journey. I'm glad that our film has created emotions,” director Kadrnka said. Along with the statue, he won $25,000.

The Special Jury Prize went to the drama Men Don't Cry (Muškarci ne plaču) by Bosnian director Alen Drljević. It deals with the impact of the Balkan war on people's lives.

The directing prize went to Slovak filmmaker Peter Bebjak for his film The Line (Čiara), about smugglers on the Slovak-Ukrainian border at the time of Slovakia entering the Schengen zone.

Best Actress went to Jowita Budnik and Eliane Umuhire together for Birds Are Singing in Kigali (Ptaki śpiewają w Kigali), a Polish film about the genocide in Rwanda and a survivor who moves to Poland.

Alexander Yatsenko won Best Actor for his role in the Russian film Arrythmia (Aritmiya). The film deals with a marriage of a paramedic and a doctor breaking up.

Two special recognitions went to the American romance Keep The Change for best debut and to Romanian actress Voica Oltean for best starting actress for the film Breaking News.

In the East of the West competition, Russian director Alexander Hant's road movie How Viktor “the Garlic” took Alexey “the Stud” to the Nursing Home (Kak Vitka Chesnok vez Lecha Shtyrya v dom invalidov) won the top prize. A Special Jury Prize went to Mariam Khatchvani's film Dede, set in a mountainous region in northwestern Georgia.

The best feature-length documentary was Spanish film Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle (Muchos hijos, un mono y un castillo). The documentary jury gave a special prize to the film Atelier de conversation by Austrian director Bernhard Braunstein.

The Právo Audience Award went to the American crime drama Wind River, a modern-day western set on a Native American reservation starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. Renner received a Festival President's Award from Jiří Bartoška at the closing ceremony. "I hope this prize doesn't mean that I'm old already," Renner said. "It's a wonderful honor.” he said, thanking Bartoška and the staff for keeping the festival going.

The film Arrival, starring Renner, was shown at the festival closing. Renner also had a discussion after the first screening of Wind River. At a press conference, he said that has just broken both of his arms in a special effects incident that went wrong. He also said that one of the main reasons he wanted to do Wind River was the chance to work with Elizabeth Olsen again, as he had worked with her before in some of the Marvel comic book films.

Wind River is presented as being based on a true story. “The characters are fictional, but similar atrocities do take place frequently in such places. The crime against Natives is twofold, however. The state drove these people into the darkest corners of the country. But this community should be celebrated, not overlooked," said Renner. At both the press conference and Q&A he declined to comment on current American politics.

Renner lived in Prague during the filming of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. “I spent three months there. I had quite a bit of free time, so I enjoyed some fun things as well, but I won't tell you which ones," he said,

Another KVIFF President's Award went to Czech director Václav Vorlíček, who recalled the first showing of his 1972 comedy The Girl on the Broomstick (Dívka na koštěti) at Karlovy Vary. Vorlíček after the official closing went to a late-night outdoor screening of The Girl on the Broomstick at the summer cinema and talked about his career. Earlier in the week, he introduced the comic book film Who Wants to Kill Jessie? (Kdo chce zabít Jessii?), and said that there were plans for a color remake for international distribution but right as the deal was being finalized, the 1968 Soviet invasion happened. Woody Allen was to have been marginally involved in the remake.

Notable films at the end of the week included I Am Heath Ledger, a documentary about the late actor made largely from his own home movies plus interviews with people that knew him.

A popular retro-style film Their Finest showed writers working on an inspirational war movie right after the Dunkirk evacuation. Bill Nighy steals the show as a washed-up actor.

Fans of the truly bizarre enjoyed November, an Estonian film set in a Pagan village facing the plague. Werewolves roam freely and people make strange semi-living beings out of farm implements. The plot involves a love story gone wrong when one of the participants turns to magic and the help of a demon.

Another odd film was 47 Meters Down, starring Mandy Moore and Claire Holt and Matthew Modine. Two tourists get trapped in a shark cage on the ocean floor with limited oxygen. It was part of a series in the Midnight Screenings section, which was very popular with the younger crowd.

More strangeness was found in Double Lover (L' amant double), a French-Belgian film by François Ozon adapted from the novel Lives of the Twins by Joyce Carol Oates. A woman seeks the help of a psychiatrist to overcome some problems but encounters the secret twin of her lover.

Discussions and panels addressed the state of Czech filmmaking and the need for better scripts to help boost cinema in Central and Eastern Europe.

Developments in several films such as the upcoming Milada, about show trial victim Milada Horáková, were also presented. That film is in post-production and will be distributed by Netflix. The film was shot in English to get a wider audience but will be shown in a Czech version domestically. Anna Geislerová is among the stars.

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