For over a decade and a half, the Karlovy Vary film festival has been bringing works from the former communist bloc to broader international attention with its flagship East of the West competition. How has the industry in the region developed over the years? And what is the importance of East of the West to Karlovy Vary? I discussed those questions with its programmer, Lenka Tyrpáková.
"We like to say that Karlovy Vary is something like a bridge between the East and the West.
"So this is the perfect place to present films by upcoming filmmakers from the region, to present them to the Western audience and to open doors for them to other festivals, for the films to be seen by the sales representatives, distributors and film industry guests that are coming here to Karlovy Vary."
You’ve been involved in this section for many years. Have you perceived any change in the quality of films from "East of the West"? For example, I saw a film from Kosovo, Aga’s House, which was really of a high technical standard. Have you perceived a change in that respect?
"For example, when we speak about Kosovo, the head of the Kosovo Cinematography Centre, Arben Zharku, is very active. He travels to the big festivals. He knows also what the audience expects. So he can help in these terms.
"The support of the national institutions is very important.
"When I started I think for a couple of years there was not strong young cinema in Ukraine.
"But in the last four or five years you can see very interesting Ukrainian films premiering here and travelling very well through the festival circuit.
"Three years ago we had Falling [by Marina Stepanska]. Two years ago it was Volcano by Roman Borandchuk and this year we are going to premiere the Ukrainian film My Thoughts are Silent [Antonio Lukich], which is a great road movie with comedy elements."
"It’s a presentation within our Film Industry Days and it’s for films from the region that are in the stage of post-production.
"We try to attract people – distributors, sales representatives, festivals – to see those films that are going to be ready, to discover something new and fresh."
There’s a Czech film in East of West this year, A Certain Kind of Silence by Michal Hogenauer. How do you select the Czech films for the section? Are they the ones that don’t make it into the main competition?
"I think East of the West is a platform for discovering young, new talents, which Michal certainly is, and we saw that it fits perfectly with the selection we have this year.
"We always try to have the selection as colourful as possible.
"So we try to find films from different genres, with different formal approaches, and I think Michal’s film is a perfect example of a European film which is understandable both to locals and to the international audience."
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