Even though the most famous film festival in the Czech Republic takes place in Karlovy Vary, Prague film fans also have their own chance for an annual taste of the best of world cinema - Febiofest. The Prague part of the festival ended last Friday, but the event now continues in other Czech towns and will later move on to Slovakia.
Febiofest is not a typical film festival; it is a special event for fans of films which cannot usually be seen in cinemas. Whereas in recent years the festival has featured a number of interesting films from Scandinavian countries, this time it shifted its focus to a different part of the world, says Febiofest art director Tereza Brdeckova.
"We have a little bit less of Nordic films this time. It is because we've presented a lot of them in the past years and we would like to present some other cultures too. We have a bit more films from what people call 'the crisis territory'. We have a whole cinema dedicated to this territory, where we show Georgian, Azeri, Iranian, Iraqi and Israeli films."
There has been great interest among visitors especially in the world premier of the Iraqi film "Underexposure". The story of a man who tries to capture the day to day reality of crumbling Baghdad is the first film made in Iraq since the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein's regime.
The film festival also brought some international stars to Prague, such as the American film director Hal Hartley or the Spanish director Carlos Saura. Swedish film maker Leena Hanno Clyne presented her new film "Falling Beauty". As she says even though the film tackles social problems of current Swedish society, she believes it can be familiar for a Czech viewer as well.
"I think my film could have quite a few similarities especially with the 'Eastern countries', because similar to Sweden, they have also fallen - for good and for bad. Like my country has fallen - for good and for bad - from being a semi-capitalist country, that valued solidarity, to a real capitalist country."
Apart from featuring films from different countries and presenting some interesting figures of independent cinema Febiofest every year also chooses a special theme in Czech cinema to which it dedicates a minor part of the festival. This year it focused on Czech national history, says Febiofest program director Premysl Martinek.
"We present a selection of sixteen films shot between 1934 and 2001. So there is a wide selection of films made under the censorship of the Communist regime, as well as films which were trying to break this censorship in the sixties and films that focused on the topic of the Second World War and Communist totalitarian system here in the Czech Republic."
Even though Febiofest is officially a non-competition festival it does grant the special Kristian awards. This time the "Kristian for lifelong contribution to world cinema" was given to Spanish director Carlos Saura.