44th Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Czech Republic, July 3 - July 11 2009

The jury

Barbara Hollender (Poland), Hala El-Mavy (Egypt), Lisa Kristin Strindberg (Norway), Gorazd Trušnovec (Slovenia), Jan Foll (Czech Republic)

Awarded films

Even though the festival in Karlovy Vary has a 44-year tradition, it still manages to retain an unusual freshness. Its great advantages are: a casual atmosphere, an excellent young audience who camp in front of the cinema halls located at the Thermal Hotel for nine days from early morning until late at night. However, the carefully constructed and varied program is of primary importance.

This year, the main competition featured fourteen films from three continents, selected from over 2,000 titles. The grand event of this year’s festival was the world premiere of “A Walk Worthwhile” by Miloš Forman. The screening of the 1960’s adaptation of the play “Jazz Opera” (by Jiri Suchy and Jiri Slitr) is the first film from the director of “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus” made in the Czech Republic since “Fireman’s Ball” over 40 years ago.

For several years, East of the West has been one of the most interesting sections of the festival, presenting the most fascinating films from Central and Eastern Europe. Thanks to this, the festival in Karlovy Vary is one of the few great events which allow one to trace the cinematography of the former post-communist countries. This year, there were additional retrospectives: A Female Take on Russia, Czech Films 2006-2009 and 20 Years of Freedom.

The Forum of Independents features 12 films whose author’s experiment in trying to extend and modernize the language of the cinema. As every year, critics from “Variety” presented their proposals, offering films which were created in 2008 in the European Union countries. The films, selected from 900 titles, were shown in the section Variety’s Critics Choice – Europe Now. This section of the festival was organized in co-operation with the European Film Promotion. “Variety” critics try to choose movies that are fresh and entertaining, not necessarily typical of their country’s image, which may have fallen beneath the radar.

However, Karlovy Vary is not only open to the cinema from the Old Continent. The section called Another View, organized together with the Tokyo Filmex Festival, presents directors from independent Japanese cinema.

The varied program of the Karlovy Vary festival also features films which became well-known by winning prizes at the festivals in Cannes, Berlin and Venice. A special section, Open Eyes, is devoted mainly to these pictures. Some of them are also screened during the Horizons retrospective, a sidebar that highlights the best and brightest of modern cinema. This year, the Horizons section featured 26 films from around the world, all of which premiered in 2008 and 2009. Honorary guests during the festival were Patrice Chereau, Alan Rudolph, Jan Svankmajer and John Malkovich – the viewers could see retrospectives devoted to them. Svankmajer, Rudolph, Malkovich, as well as Isabelle Huppert and Antonio Banderas received Golden Globes. (Barbara Hollender)

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: www.kviff.com