Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2011: Round-Up

A wrap-up of the winners and final figures from the Czech Republic's biggest movie event

Although not even the tons of oysters served at the closing party at Grandhotel Pupp were enough to draw the attention of celebs on Saturday, the preceding ceremony at Hotel Thermal was all glamour.

The opening and closing ceremonies' main theme was dancing Martians, who landed in the Grand Hall in a flying saucer.

Six of the 12 films in the main competition were recognized by the main jury, which was led by István Szabó.

The Grand Prix and a $30,000 cash prize went to the Israeli film Restoration (Boker Tov, Adon Fidelman), directed by Yossi Madmoni. The film depicts the melancholy and despair one family faces as it tries to decide the future of its antique furniture shop. The film was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year and took home the World Cinema Screenwriting Award at the same festival.

The jury's special prize went to the Czech-Slovak coproduction Gypsy (Cigán), directed by Martin Šulík. Gypsy's lead actor, Ján Mižigár, also received a special mention, together with Jocelyn Pook, who was responsible for the music in another film in competition, Room 304.

The Crystal Globe for Best Actress was awarded to Stine Fischer Christensen for her breathtaking role as a young theatre actress in the psychological drama Cracks in the Shell (Die Unsichtbare) while David Morse can proudly take home his Best Actor statuette for his role in Martin Donovan's The Collaborator. Morse actually returned to the United States during the festival but jumped on a plane and came back to Karlovy Vary to receive the award in person.

Pascal Rabaté took home the Crystal Globe for best director for his film Holidays by the Sea, a wordless comedy that pays tribute to Jacques Tati.

The traditional East of the West section's jury was most impressed by the Vladimir Blaževski film Punk's Not Dead (Pankot ne e mrtov). This Serbian/Macedonian coproduction is a dark comedy about a 40-year old former singer trying to get his band back together after 17 years.

The Globe for Best Documentary over 30 minutes in length went to The Good Life (Det gode liv) by Danish documentary-maker Eva Mulvad. "I travelled with the film to 11 festivals already and I'm sure this prize will help the film a lot," Eva confessed to me at the closing party.

The independent jury decided to give the Independent Camera Award to Aaron Houston's film Sunflower Hour, a comedy about puppeteers competing for a spot on a children's television program.

All four of the competition films recognized by the jury will be screened as part of the traditional KVIFF Echoes block at the Prague art house cinemas Kino Světozor and Kino Aero.

Among the films that are worth catching are Incendines by Dennis Villeneuve, a deeply moving film following a pair of twins' journey to the Middle East to find out more about their family; Kim Ki-duk's latest film Arirang, where the director turns the camera on himself; and Béla Tarr's latest film, Turin Horse (A torinói ló).

As David Morse said, the most important component of the KVIFF is an audience that's prepared to sleep in tents just to watch the films.

This audience decides which film they like best each year. This year, of the 70,490 votes cast, the clear winner was the Czech film Nicky's Family (Nickyho rodina), a Matej Mináč film about Sir Nicholas Winton who, just before the outbreak of World War II, succeeded in taking 669 Jewish children out of Nazi-occupied Prague to safety in the United Kingdom.

While oysters were prepared for the celebrities, the "backpackers" rely mainly on the fast-food catering set up each year in front of the Hotel Thermal. With sometimes only a couple minutes in between films, Catering Vion provides a perfect way for over 10,000 film buffs to silence their rumbling stomachs. "We sold some 800 kilos of halušky alone," the catering service's owner, Zoli Javorka, told Prague TV.

Vary in Numbers
126,302 tickets sold
12,033 accredited visitors, of whom 10,266 had festival passes
199 films
413 screenings

• The 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will rock the West Bohemian spa town from June 29 through until July 7, 2012

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