Czech film greats Forman and Švankmajer among special guests at Karlovy Vary festival this year


One of the highlights of the Czech cultural calendar, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, gets underway in the west Bohemian spa town on July 3. While the list of special guests this year has not been completed, some names were revealed – along with the programme highlights – at a news conference in Prague on Tuesday morning. I spoke there to KVIFF’s programme director Julietta Sichel.

KVIFF 2008, photo: Štěpánka BudkováKVIFF 2008, photo: Štěpánka Budková “We have a retrospective of films by Patrice Chereau [Queen Margot, Intimacy], who should come in person to introduce six of his films.

“We will have a retrospective of several films by Alan Rudolph [Love at Large, Trouble in Mind]. His films were never shown, I think, on screen in the Czech Republic. Some people might know them from DVD but this is going to be quite unique, not only for the Czech audience, but I hope for some foreign guests, who probably know his name but never saw more than one or two films.

“He’s going to come in person as well, and hopefully so will some of the actors, because the casts of his films are really great.

“Then we have several focuses on different topics. We have a retrospective which we call A Female Take on Russia, introducing several really remarkable Russian female directors of different ages.

“We felt looking at the programmes of some festivals that Russian female directors were becoming stronger and stronger. That’s something that you witnessed in France a few years ago, that there are really several remarkable female directors. So we thought that this phenomenon should be introduced in Karlovy Vary as well. Most of the directors will come in person to introduce their films.

“And of course we have all the usual sections which we present every year.”

Also I know this year two of the greatest living Czech filmmakers are coming to Karlovy Vary, Miloš Forman and Jan Švankmajer. Tell us about their involvement in the festival.

“Well, Miloš Forman is coming on a particularly wonderful occasion – he’s going to introduce the world premiere of his latest film. For the Czech audience it has a particular meaning, because it’s [based on] a new stage adaptation of a very famous play from the Semafor theatre.

“Jan Švankmajer is going to be the Czech personality awarded with the Crystal Globe for outstanding contribution to world cinema. We will present one of his very well known films, Conspirators of Pleasure.”

Finally, tell us about the budget. Karlovy Vary festival is usually a very lavish event – how much will it be affected this year by the global financial crisis?

“Luckily we have long-term contracts with most of our sponsors, so we didn’t particularly feel the crisis this year. Who knows what will happen in the future, but most of our major sponsors and the contracts we have are the same as they were, I don’t know, four years ago, for example.”

The new Miloš Forman film is called Dobře placená procházka (A Walk Worthwhile) and is based on a play by Jiří Suchý and Jiří Šlitr. Forman previously adapted it for television, in 1965.