The 37th Karlovy Vary Film Festival is underway in the renowned west Bohemian spa town. Close to 300 films are being shown in the space of 10 days. The festival traditionally focuses on creative filmmakers from around the world who want to make a difference not a profit- and who often struggle for recognition. The films are also chosen with the aim of bridging the gap between the West and the countries of the former communist block. The festival's high point is the Crystal Globe award, a 20,000 dollar prize given to the festival's best premiere feature production.
The three parties involved in talks to put together a new Czech government are expected to sign a final agreement, defining relations between the three partners. The final distribution of ministerial posts is also to be decided, as are the names of individual ministers. Although the two smaller parties the centrist Christian Democrats and the liberal Freedom Union are expected to challenge the Social Democrats on a number of unresolved issues, they say that these are not differences which could endanger the proposed agreement. The agreement in question will commit the three parties to support the governing coalition through its four year term in office. One of the points of contention is whether the coalition agreement should be signed just by the party leaders or by all 101 members of Parliament representing the parties in the coalition.
Prague's Bethlehem Chapel was packed on Saturday evening for an ecumenical service. It was held to remember the legacy of the Czech reformer Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake in the German town of Constance on the 6th July 1415. The Patriarch of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church, Jan Schwarz, who led the service, said that it was apt that today the Bethlehem Chapel does not belong to any single church or denomination. Jan Hus often preached in the chapel, one of the first places where sermons were given in Czech rather than Latin.
A number of politicians involved in talks to put together a new Czech coalition government have said that President Vaclav Havel is likely to name the Social Democrat chief, Vladimir Spidla as the new Czech Prime Minister on Tuesday. The President's spokesman confirmed that this was a possibility. The head of the Christian Democrats, another of the parties involved in coalition talks, Cyril Svoboda, said that a final list of cabinet members should be ready within hours.
Despite traditional bad weather with heavy rain, there has been a party atmosphere over the weekend at the Karlovy Vary international film festival, with concerts and parties alongside a marathon of film screenings. As part of the section devoted to films from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, filmmakers from the region discussed the problems they currently face, in particular difficulties with raising money. Film critic Gergana Dakovska said that only four full-length feature films are made in her native Bulgaria each year. But the young Russian director, Sergej Potemkin was optimistic, saying that support for films in Russia, including film debuts, has increased. Over the weekend, visitors to the festival also had the chance to meet the most famous contemporary Korean director, Kim Ki-Duk, seven of whose films are being shown in Karlovy Vary. We'll be bringing you reports from the festival throughout the week.
Austrian opponents to the Temelin nuclear power plant have said that the
latest problems with plant's second reactor are further evidence of its
flawed design. Plans to integrate the reactor into the Czech national grid
had to be postponed on Friday. A spokesman for the plant, which combines
Soviet and American technologies and is close to the Austria border, said
that the delay was caused by a short circuit in the generator and it would
take several days to establish the precise cause.
And in a connected story, local Austrian politicians, mayors and environmental activists met over the weekend in the border village of Mardetschlag. They said that they wanted to renew dialogue with their counterparts on the Czech side of the border over the future of Temelin. They agreed that it was counterproductive to reduce cooperation between communities and schools on both sides of the border because of the row over the nuclear plant. The meeting was also attended by the mayors of three Czech villages.
Heads of government from ten countries aspiring to join NATO have expressed
confidence that up to seven of them will be invited to join the alliance at
the November NATO summit in Prague. The Estonian Prime Minister, Siim
Kallas, told a meeting in the Latvian capital Riga that he could not see any
The Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski, told the Riga meeting that he favoured closer cooperation between countries set to join NATO and the European Union and those left out, in order to prevent a "velvet curtain" dividing Europe. He suggested that the Vilnius Group of ten NATO hopefuls merge with the Visegrad Group, made up of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and has since been a strong advocate of further expansion.
The English actor Michael York has been one of the main stars so far at the Karlovy Vary international film festival, now in its third day. He is there for a retrospective to present his most famous film, "Cabaret" from 1972. On Friday, the successful young Czech director Petr Zelenka has also been in Karlovy Vary to talk about his latest film "Rok dabla" - the year of the devil - which is one of two Czech films in the competition section. During the weekend, festival visitors will also have the chance to meet directors and actors from several other films in the competition section, from as far afield as Mexico, Spain and Latvia. Radio Prague will be bringing you the latest festival news in our broadcasts and on our website throughout next week.
Plans to integrate the second reactor of the Temelin nuclear power plant into the national grid have been postponed indefinitely. A spokesman said that the delay was caused by a short circuit in the generator and it would take several days to establish the precise cause. Initially the reactor was to have been put on line immediately after this week's tests. The plant's first reactor continues to work at a hundred percent capacity. Temelin combines Soviet and American technologies, and critics have claimed that it is unsafe.
The leadership of the Freedom Union has been discussing the pace of lowering the state budget deficit, that formed part of coalition talks with the Social Democrats on Wednesday. The slower pace put through by the Social Democrats led the Freedom Union leader, Hana Marvanova, to step down from her post on Thursday. However, Mrs. Marvanova said that although she did not agree with the new cabinet's financial policy, she would give it her full support because of its pro-European orientation.