Karlovy Vary festival gets underway

A retrospective of the Wild Nineties and restored Egyptian film are planned

The 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival got underway on Friday, June 28 at the spa town of Karlovy Vary in West Bohemia. It will run until July 6. At the gala opening on Friday, Hollywood actress Julianne Moore was presented with Karlovy Vary’s Crystal Globe for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema by festival president Jiří Bartoška.

Several films will be shown out of competition or as special events. The festival will host the world premiere of the US-based Czech filmmaker Martin Krejčí’s long-anticipated The True Adventures of Wolfboy, starring Jaeden Martel, Eve Hewson and John Turturro. Following its successful premiere at Cannes, Helena Třeštíková and Jakub Hejna present the Czech premiere of their biographical documentary Forman vs. Forman, about the famed Czech filmmaker.

Ivan Zachariáš will present an exclusive preview of the first two episodes of HBO Europe’s six-part spy drama The Sleepers, starring Táňa Pauhofová, Hattie Morahan (Beauty and the Beast), and David Nykl (Stargate Atlantis). Ondřej Provazník and Martin Dušek make their feature-film debut in Karlovy Vary with the world premiere of Old-Timers, a road movie with two aging former political prisoners who set out to find and kill a communist-era prosecutor.

The Australian film Mystify: Michael Hutchence, a documentary look at the late lead singer of Australian rock band INXS, has its European premiere. The festival’s main competition includes 10 world and two international premieres. 

The KVIFF President’s Award will go to cinematographer Vladimír Smutný. He is a seven-time winner of the Czech Lion for Best Cinematography, and a two-time winner of a Czech Film Critics’ Award. He is most famous for his work with Jan and Zdeněk Svěrák. 

The festival also commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution with a selection of seven movies shot in 1989–92. The “wild nineties” gave filmmakers’ new artistic freedom. Tomáš Vorel captured the transformation of communism into democracy in his cult hit Smoke (1991), a tale of an engineer’s conflict with a bizarre factory’s petrified organizational structure. Irena Pavlásková showed the absurd nature of life in pre-revolution Czechoslovakia in her psychological thriller Time of the Servants (1989). 

Filip Renč’s debut Requiem for a Maiden (1991) is based on true events from the 1980s when a 14-year-old girl is mistakenly sent to a home for mentally disabled girls. Jan Němec, who spent 15 years in exile, caused an uproar with The Flames of Royal Love (1990), based loosely on a novel. Juraj Jakubisko made It’s Better to Be Wealthy and Healthy Than Poor and Ill (1992), a tale of two women who throw themselves into business. The series concludes with Věra Chytilová’s morality tale The Inheritance Fuckoffguysgoodday (1992).

The festival continues its tradition of premiere screenings of digitally restored classics of Czech cinema with a seminal work of the 1960s Czechoslovak New Wave, director Juraj Herz’s The Cremator. This dark tale was adapted from a Gothic novel by author Ladislav Fuks, tracking an ordinary man’s transformation into a psychopathic killer. 

The festival is also honoring the late Egyptian filmmaker Youssef Chahine (1926-2008) with a retrospective of 11 remastered films spanning from 1950 to 1986. All the movies in the program – the biggest of its kind to be featured at any international film fest – are part of an internationally backed Chahine restoration project. Five of the restored films are making their festival premiere at Karlovy Vary this year. 

The festival’s tradition of creating unique trailers continues with Czech actress and KVIFF President’s Award laureate Jiřina Bohdalová. The trailer was shot by director Martin Krejčí. Jiřina Bohdalová received the KVIFF President’s Award for outstanding contribution to Czech cinema in 2016.

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