On Friday, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival once again kicks off in the west Bohemian spa town. In its 45th year, the country’s biggest and most renowned film festival will show 205 films, a quarter of which are premieres. We hear from our reporter Ian Willoughby, who is currently in Karlovy Vary, about what we can expect this year and what the atmosphere is like there ahead of the opening ceremony.
“Right now, the final preparations are being made for the festival, they’ve literally been taking the plastic covers off the red carpet here at the Hotel Thermal, where I am right now. It’s the center of the festival. I am talking to you at lunch time, so it’s still quite quiet here, but this evening, the place will be thronged with VIPs and other guests for the opening ceremony.”
And what exactly can we expect from the opening ceremony?
“The opening film is Crazy Heart, for which Jeff Bridges won an Oscar this year, the Best Actor Oscar, and that’s being introduced by the film’s director, he is a first-time director, Scott Cooper.
“Also, before the opening ceremony, the festival begins each year with a big show with dancers and that sort of thing, and some years it’s actually quite good. And I think some regular attendees are going to be quite curious what the creators come up with this year.
“By the way, among the regular attendees is President Václav Klaus, he traditionally comes to the opening and he is expected here tonight with his wife Livia.”
“Without a doubt the biggest guest this year will be Jude Law, the English actor, who was recently seen in the big hit Sherlock Holmes, for instance.
“Otherwise, there are quite a few other interesting people coming, including the Portuguese actress Maria de Medeiros, she was in Pulp Fiction, people might know her from that. She is also a big actress in European cinema, and she is here to present a film called Hitler in Hollywood.
“That’s one of the twelve films that are in the main competition in Karlovy Vary, but I think for real cineastes, real serious film fans, the most important guest will be Thelma Schoonmaker, who is the editor of Martin Scorsese’s films and she has won three Oscars for working on his films.”
Do you have any idea who is favored to win prizes this year?
“I think it’s quite early to say that, because the films have not yet been screened. But there are twelve films in competition, among them two Czech films. Kuky by Jan Svěrák, who won an Oscar for Kolya, and Three Seasons in Hell, by Tomáš Mašín, which is his first film.
“Otherwise, it’s a bit early to say. There are three competitions here. The main competition of feature films, the documentary competition, also there is a section here called East of the West, which I think is one thing that Karlovy Vary prides itself on, that it is a meeting point between the East and the West.”
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