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KVIFF 04 ambiance

Karlovy Vary 2004 –

The atmosphere this year around the Hotel Thermal was electric, something like Time Square on a busy evening, (and the comparison is not that excessive!) especially outside the main entrance to the Velky Sal. Live music was continuously played on stage where crowds of youngsters gathered to drink, cheer, and indulge in what is surely one of the highlights of the Czech social calendar attended by international showbiz figures such as Elijah Wood, Harvey Keitel, John Cleese or even Jacqueline Bisset, as well as national figures such as the president of the Republic Vaclav Klaus and the very prominent Czech national icon Vaclav Havel.

During the 39th KVIFF there were 416 screenings attended by 123,749 viewers. 215 films were shown, including 15 world premieres, 28 international premieres, and 5 European premieres in 13 different cinemas. The festival was attended this year by 527 journalists, 456 filmmakers, and 905 film professionals. But it’s not only about the quantity but the quality and variety of the programme. And there was plenty of that too.

The Festival held its International competition of full-length feature films and in compliance with the FIAPF statute for non-specialised film festivals, the competition included selected films made after January 1, 2003, which had not been shown in competition at another international festival. The big winner was Certi Bambini a violent and disturbing tale about childhood in a poor neighbourhood of Naples by twin brothers Andrea and Antonio Frazzi.
There was also a documentary film competition. Documentary films included in this competition were divided into two categories: films shorter than 30 minutes (8 films) and longer than 30 minutes (12 films). The grand prize went to Russian filmmaker Pavel Medvedev for Wedding of Silence.

Besides these two international competitions, the films at the 39th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival were divided into the traditional festival sections – Horizons (eg: Farenheit 9/11, La Mala Educacion, Bright Young Things…), Another View (with for example Khakestar-o-Khak, a Franco-Afghan production by Atiq Rahimi and selected at Cannes in the category Un Certain Regard), East of the West (showcasing many interesting films by predominantly eastern European filmmakers), Forum of Independents (showcasing independent features and shorts), Czech Films 2003-2004 (for example Czech Dream by Vit Klusak). This year’s programme also included the following thematic sections and retrospectives:

Tribute to Miroslav Ondříček - viewers could see a screening of Hair, the film by Miloš Forman, which Ondříček shot as a cameraman.
Tribute to Sergei Paradjanov – as tribute to this Armenian director who would have been eighty this year his biographical film Colour of Pomegranates was screened.
Special Events – four films were screened in this section: The Edukators (2004) by Hans Weingartner, Daddy (2004) by Vladimir Mashkov, member of this year’s Grand Jury, King Ubu (2003) in which another member of this jury, Polish actress Katarzyna Figura, played, and Z Channel – A Magnificent Obsession (2004) directed by Xan Cassavetes.
Ten Best Turkish Films – the retrospective introduced ten best Turkish films chosen according to enquiry organised by Ankara Film Association, this retrospective had its world premiere at KVIFF.
Focus on Catalan Film – 39th KVIFF presented a collection of five Catalan films.
2004: A Musical Odyssey – this retrospective dedicated to the crossroads of films and music introduced six feature films which depicted different music genres.
Tribute to John Cassavetes – the retrospective presented five films by late American director John Cassavetes (1929-1989), one of the pioneers of independent cinema. The following films were shown: Gloria (1980), Minnie and Moskowitz (1971), Opening Night (1977), Shadows (1959) and A Woman under the Influence (1974).
Tribute to Sergio Leone – by screening of his film Once upon a Time in America (1984) the festival remembered the seventy-fifth birth anniversary of untimely deceased director Sergio Leone (1929-1989).
Dance for the Cinema – six feature films, in different ways portraying the world of modern dance, were shown in this section,
Treasures from the European Film Archives – this year there were two movies screened which have come out of restoration workshops of European film archives: a Spanish film Black Sky (1951) and a Hungarian film Merry-Go-Round (1955).
Special Video Screenings – eight films from the Czech Republic, Germany, and Italy were introduced.

Amongst the special programs there was also the Variety Critics’ Choice which for the seventh time now presented a selection of ten European films chosen by the critics of the prestigious film magazine Variety. This year, the following films were screened: Aaltra (Aaltra, dir. Benoît Delépine, Gustave Kervern), Astronauts (Astronautas, dir. Santi Amodeo), Four Shades of Brown (Fyra nyanser av brunt, dir. Tomas Alfredson), Charlie (Charlie, dir. Malcolm Needs), Kontroll (Kontroll, dir. Nimród Antal), Little Girl Blue (Little Girl Blue, dir. Anna Luif), Mister V. (Mister V., dir. Émilie Deleuze), Touch of Spice (Politiki kouzina, dir. Tassos Boulmetis), Shouf shouf habibi! (Shouf shouf habibi!, dir. Albert ter Heerdt), Made in Estonia (Vanad ja kobedad saavad jalad alla, dir. Rando Pettai).
The whole project was the initiative of the executive editor of Variety magazine, Steven Gaydos, and was once again held under the auspices of European Film Promotion (EFP), an independent international institution concerned with the sale and support of European films and collaborating with the European Union programme MEDIA Plus. The EFP has its headquarters in Hamburg, its president is Claudia Landsberger and the executive director is Renate Rose.

The Presidium of European Film Academy also chose the 39th Karlovy Vary IFF as the venue of its regular annual meeting. It was held on 10 July in the Grandhotel Pupp and was attended by: Humbert Balsan (producer, France), Pierre-Henri Deleau (festival president, France), Ulrich Felsberg (producer, Germany), Stephan Hutter (producer and distributor, Germany), Mika Kaurismäki (director, Finland), Nik Powell (film school headmaster, Great Britain), Domenico Procacci (producer, Italy), István Szabó (director, Hungary), Els Vandevorst (producer, Netherlands), Marion Döring (director of EFA, Germany) a Derek Malcolm (journalist, Great Britain).

The KVIFF also hosted this year’s Co-production forum. The meeting of producers was concerned with new possibilities of Central and Eastern filmmaking after European Union enlargement. The conference was held under the name ‘Central and Eastern European Countries: New Institutions, New Laws, New Films, New Challenges’ and new ways of co-operation, financing, new schools, workshops and also successful setting up of a Czech, Slovak, Polish Pavilion at Cannes were discussed. At the meeting, hosted by Steven Gaydos (Variety), the following guests took part: Jean Cazes (president of the European Producers Club), Jana Černik (Czech Film Centre), Karlo Funk (Estonian Film Foundation), Synnoeve Kjaerland (North by Northwest), Piotr Reisch (SPI International), Pavel Strnad (president APA Czech Producers Association) and others.

In other words the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival remains in its 39th edition a must for all filmmakers as a celebration of international filmmaking and as a definite gateway to the growing eastern European film industry.
James Reid


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