Natalia Kazimirovskaja
Specially for, 2009 08 03
Karlovy Vary-Stockholm

The Grand Prix of the festival was granted for the film “Angel at Sea” directed by F.Dumont. From

Festival as Celebration of Entire Country

The 44th international film festival was organised in the resort town of the Czech Republic Karlovy Vary in July. It rallied a huge crowd of cinema admirers and experts willing to see and evaluate the hottest news of the cinema world.

Film critics of various countries, producers and film creators as well as young students from entire Czech and the respectable audience of the resort town could enjoy the atmosphere of a real festival created by knowledgeable organisers.

The famous president of Karlovy Vary Festival, Czech actor and director Jiri Bartoska and his right hand, the artistic director of the festival Eva Zaoralova, guided their child across confusing labyrinths of creation and diplomacy. They are able to interest everyone by their festival every year: from presidents of countries to youth of the entire Czech Republic.

Audience that Charmed by Youth

The flood of young people is the exceptional feature of Karlovy Vary Festival. Perhaps no other known international film festival is able to attract so much youth. Young boys and girls come to the festival with rucksacks and tents. They are allowed to pitch their tents in numerous green zones of the resort town and even in the special place near the main festival hotel Thermal. Sitting on the floor, some of them with cushions, with laptops and advertisement material, young people study the festival programme seriously and catch every piece of news.

Young film viewers, who form the biggest part of the festival audience, can buy cheap tickets or even enjoy free entrance to film screenings, when free places are left. Life attractive to youth bubbles around the hotel Thermal too: sellers offer cheap but tasty hot meals of the Czech kitchen as well as a huge variety of Czech beer.

Extracts from the extensive festival programme were shown on a large screen above the central entrance to Thermal hotel without any breaks. The programme of the festival consisted of 232 films this year. 132 thousand people visited the 44th Karlovy Vary festival. As many as 70 thousand people participated in the election of winner of the Audience Award.

The festival life continues throughout the night. Young people living in towns of tents spree in their style, while the elder audience, cinema stars, “lions” and “lionesses” of the society have many chances to shine in private parties. It is a festival in which everybody feels well and free.

Sheen of the Crystal Globe

From the film "Angel at Sea"

Many awards were granted in the festival that presented a huge number of films of various level, format and genre. The grand prix of the festival of this year, the Crystal Globe was awarded for the Belgian and Canadian film “Angel at Sea” directed by Frederic Dumont. It is a chamber family drama. Olivier Gourme who acted the Father in the film received the Best Actor Award. Paprika Steen, who created the role of an actress fighting against alcohol in the Danish film “Applause” received the Best Actress Award.

The German Andreas Dresen was recognised the Best Director for the tragicomedy “Whisky with Vodka” about the life of an aging cinema actor. The Audience Award was granted for the joint film of Israeli and French creators "A Matter of Size”.

From the film "A Matter of Size"

Special Crystal Globe awards for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema were granted to such renowned cinema people as the French actress Isabelle Huppert, American John Malkovich and creator of Czech surrealist cinema Jan Svankmajer.

J.Malkovich. From

The festival president J.Bartoska’s award of honour was granted to the Spanish actor living in the USA Antonio Banderas.

It has to be admitted that not all films with famous cinema stars became events of cinema art. Let us say, the French actress I.Huppert, a jury member of the Canes Film Festival, visited Karlovy Vary Festival as an actress who participated in films ”Villa Amalia” and ”Gabrielle”; still, these films did not extend the list of her best works for sure.

The film of the legendary Milos Forman “A Walk Worthwhile” did not cause any doubts that it was a master’s work; however, the choice of the dramaturgic material and the actors’ style of acting was questionable. The experts of M.Forman’s creative work and life explained that it was a version of a former performance adapted to the screen. M.Forman was among the creators of that performance. Now the performance was reborn in the Czech National Theatre. Ostensibly M.Forman wanted to express nostalgic feelings and to relay the turn to two sons, who were related with the creation of the film and the renewed performance. All this is plausible, but the family intentions were impossible to understand for the majority of viewers who did not know the personal story of the director M.Forman.

Russian Brutality Made One Shudder

The contemporary Russian cinema was presented in the festival thoroughly. Still, it really made one shudder. Seas of blood, cruel killings, avalanches of dirty curse words, entire possible palette of compulsion, old parents expelled from home, abandoned children, terrible accidents – this is the direction of thematic interests of contemporary Russian cinema.

It should be noted that the biggest part of this brutal cinema production oppressing by frustration and dirty lexis has been created by female directors. The retrospective of "female cinema" was dedicated for their works in Karlovy Vary Festival, and this was how the tribute to “gender” fashion of self-expression was given.

The Russian cinema was presented by the film “Wolfy” in the main contest programme. The scenario author and director of this film is the popular playwright Vasilij Sigarev. The film shocks by the harsh naturalism, stages of terrible mockery at a girl (acted by the granddaughter of the famous director Valentin Pluchek, Polina Pluchek). The scenes of the film leave a macabre and completely inartistic impression, it seems that the actors participating in the film know such life well and even admire it or perhaps act themselves. By the way, the performer of the main role Jana Trojanova emphasised a number of times in the press conference that her heroine and she were similar in many ways.

It is rejoicing that the jury of Karlovy Vary Festival was not caught by the bait of the "shock therapy” or Russian brutality. Cinema production of this kind did not receive support and approval in any nominations.

Lithuanian Film Served as Refreshment

From the film "Room and a Half"

The only Crystal Globe that went to Russia was in the nomination “East of the West” – it was awarded for the intelligent, spiritual and sedate film that charmed by the wonderful work of actors “Room and a Half” dedicated to Josif Brodski. The well-known animation director Andrej Khrzhanovski combined poetry, animation, convention and psychologically grounded reality in the feature film in the harmonious way demonstrating wonderful artistic taste. The legendary Russian actors Sergej Jurski and Alisa Freindlich acted in the film, and the role of J.Brodski was created by the known director from Saint Petersburg Grigorij Ditiatkovski.

Not only Russian films but also the films of the majority of post-soviet countries stood out by the exalted pessimism and dark despair. In this context the joint Lithuanian and German film “Low Lights” directed by Ignas Miškinis created favourable feelings. It was also shown in the programme “East of the West”.

From the film "Low Lights"

It is a story about a normal couple living successfully, at least in the eyes of other people, which decided to spice up its ordinary successful life with night adventures. Discovering the unfamiliar night life of the city with its dangers and pain of loneliness, the couple seems to discover the feelings to each other anew. Charming Lithuanian actors Dainius Gavenonis, Jonas Antanėlis and the German actress Julia Maria Köhler acted in the film created by the young director I.Miškinis. "Low Lights" with its face and subtle humour was a really respectable and memorable work in the festival context.

I.Miškinis signing for admirers after the premiere of his film. From

With Humour About Serious Things

The 44th Karlovy Vary Festival, which left controversial impressions, has finished. All Crystal Globes have been distributed, and it appeared that they could testify not only about creative success and glory. The festival organisers with a good sense of humour and dislike for pomp showed snappy short films about previous winners of the Crystal Globe and about ways how the statue with the transparent globe might be used practically and usefully before every film screening. For example, one honourable winner of the prize used the globe as the magnifying glass which helped him to look under skirts of charming girls. Another winner forgot the keys and banged on the door by the base of the statue so hard that it broke the lock. The third winner of the prize smashed the fragile globe long ago and is still trying to glue the pieces together.

The audience met these short films before every film screening as a ritual, merrily and emotionally. It was like the trademark of the 44th Karlovy Vary Film Festival, which reminded that art and awards for it was also a game and that the festival was, first of all, a beautiful traditional festival of world film creators in the Czech Republic.

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