The Czech Republic’s top film event, the Karlovy Vary festival, gets underway on Friday. As every year, it promises scores of movies from around the world and both Hollywood names and lesser-known but no less interesting guests. Ahead of the opening, I got some tips on what to watch out for during the 53rd Karlovy Vary’s from its artistic director, Karel Och. I first asked Och if there were any festival sections he would particularly like to highlight this year.
“It’s a section which is based on the phenomenon of carte blanche, which is an extremely cinephiliac phenomenon.
“We give a chance to people who are known for some reason – known journalists, known filmmakers, local, foreign, etc. – to pick a movie of his or her heart, the film that has had the most influence on his or her career as an artist.
“And this year we decided to give a voice to the closest friends of the festival, people who have been collaborating with us for 20 years, as set decorators, masters of ceremony, graphic designers, editors, directors of festival trailers, etc.
“There are films like Match Point, Marketa Lazarová, Lawrence of Arabia, etc., which will be introduced by the people themselves.”
You always say that all the films are great, but if I pushed you to recommend one movie that people should try to not miss, what would it be?
“I would definitely recommend a film from Sweden called Border. It’s a film that won the Un Certain Regard competition, which is the second competition in Cannes, a few weeks ago.
“It’s about a woman who has a special sense. She can sniff fear in people, she can sniff anxiety, and she works at the border as a border police so she can actually recognise when somebody’s smuggling something.
“That is until the day when she meets a guy who has the same abilities. This is just the beginning and you have no idea what will happen in the movie.
“It’s a wild, imaginative, original, very fresh movie about life.”
Among the big guests coming are Tim Robbins and Barry Levinson. Of the lesser known names, who are the exciting guests this year from your perspective?
“I’m very excited that we finally succeeded to bring Romain Gavras, the French filmmaker and son of Costa Gavras, the famous Greek filmmaker and the director of the Cinémathèque Française.
“Romain Gavras is a well-known director of commercials and music videos, such as for Kanye West, Jay-Z and MIA.
“Romain Gavras debuted with Our Day Will Come, which I dearly love – I’ve seen it about eight or nine times.
“It’s from 2010 and it’s the story of the revenge of two red-haired guys, with Vincent Cassel.
“It premiered recently in Cannes and it’s a comedy. Everybody was surprised that Romain Gavras pulled off a comedy. It’s basically a satirical look at the world of petty gangsters.”
Also coming this year is Terry Gilliam. Is it fair to say that he has a special relationship with Czech audiences?
“Definitely. Among the filmmakers he feels influenced by are Karel Zeman and Jan Švankmajer.
“He came in the 1990s fairly often to the summer film school [in Uherské Hradiště].
“We also have the shop Terry’s Socks in Prague, which his based on the fact he left a sock at Kino Aero.
“He has come a few times to Karlovy Vary as well, and now he’s coming back with his life-long project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”
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