Man versus Nature at Karlovy Vary

Czech festival unveils line-up.

by Richard Mowe

A psychological drama from Georgia, Corn Island is one of this year's anticipated highlights at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
A psychological drama from Georgia, Corn Island is one of this year's anticipated highlights at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Revered Georgian filmmaker George Ovashvili (The Other Bank) will see his long anticipated new film Corn Island, a psychological drama that uses captivating imagery to present a topical subject – the intense relationship between man and nature – included in the main competition of this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

In programme plans announced today (3 June) Karel Och, the festival’s artistic director, noted that the first animated film to be shown in competition at Karlovy Vary comes from the New York-based Latvian filmmaker Signe Baumane: Rocks In My Pockets. Described as “a funny film about depression” it depicts mental illness that afflicted a girl’s family for decades.

Georgian film-maker George Ovashvili.
Georgian film-maker George Ovashvili.

The festival, which runs from 4 to 12 July in a picturesque spa town south of Prague, always puts a special spotlight on filmakers from central and eastern Europe as well as The Balkans and the former Soviet Union.

Among the event highlights are an appearance by Nobel Prize winner and former Polish president Lech Walesa, who will be in attendance to introduce the world premiere of the director’s cut of Walesa: Man Of Hope by legendary director Andrzej Wajda, created especially for the premiere screening at the festival.

William Friedkin, an outstanding figure of American filmmaking who received multiple Oscars for The French Connection and The Exorcist, will receive the Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. He will present a restored version of one of the central films of his career, Sorcerer. The 78-year-old’s visit to Karlovy Vary represents the culmination of the festival’s initiative to present overseas cinema from the 1970s – a key period that was dominated by the New Hollywood generation.

Elsewhere in the programme Angelina Nikonova (Twilight Portrait), a leading Russian director will attend the premiere of her bitter comedy Welkome Home, set among the immigrant community in contemporary New York.

Hungarian director Gyorgy Palfi, one of Europe’s most original filmmakers, presents Free Fall, a sad and grotesque look at contemporary society. Through seven stories, Palfi presents “an alarming report on the state of humanity using his typical provocativeness and boundless imagination.”

From Belgium comes I’m Yours by director David Lambert, whose previous film Beyond The Walls was shown two years ago in Critics’ Week in Cannes. I’m Yours depicts the difficult road to emotional fulfillment through the story of a restless young Argentine man’s unlikely relationship with an ageing Belgian baker.

Miroslav Krobot, a stage veteran and the only Czech actor to have appeared in films presented in Cannes, Berlin and Venice, will introduce his directorial debut Nowhere in Moravia. Labelled “a laconic rural drama with elements of dark comedy,” Krobot features some of the Czech Republic’s leading actors, led by Tatiana Vilhelmova, Ivan Trojan and Jaroslav Plesl.

William Friedkin, Crystal Globe award recipient at Karlovy Vary.
William Friedkin, Crystal Globe award recipient at Karlovy Vary.

In Low Down, Jeff Preiss presents the carefree bohemian scene of 1970s Los Angeles, as well as the talent and heroin-addiction of jazz pianist Joe Albany (John Hawkes), seen through the eyes of his daughter Amy-Jo (Elle Fanning).

Czech screenwriter and director Andrea Sedlackova delivers her film Fair Play, an intimate drama about trying to preserve human dignity in the face of state-organised doping during the totalitarian 1980s. It focuses on young athlete Anna (Judit Bardos) and her mother (Anna Geislerova).

This year’s strong representation of countries east of the Czech Republic also features Kazakh filmmaker Nariman Turebayev with Adventure, a loose adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s White Nights.

In his subtly humorous new film Paris Of The North, Icelandic filmmaker Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson (Either Way) tells of a teacher who has managed to overcome his problems with alcohol, his frivolous rocker father, and the other inhabitants of an out-of-the-way village.

In his second film, La Tirisia, Mexican director Jorge Perez Solano presents the story of Cheba and Angeles Miguel, two women who are pregnant by the same man. They live in an isolated village, and their attempts at leading a modest but dignified life are constantly attacked by a strange illness of the soul, “la tirisia.’

France’s Pascal Rabate, who won the best director award at the 2011 KVIFF for Holidays By The Sea, returns to the festival’s competition section with the intriguingly stylised and ironic morality tale Patchwork Family.

Official Selection - Competition

Adventure, Nariman Turebayev (Kazakhstan, France) World premiere

Dira u Hanusovic / Nowhere In Moravia, Miroslav Krobot (Czech Republic) World premiere

Du Goudron Et Des Plumes/ Patchwork Family), Pascal Rabate (France) World premiere

Fair Play, Andrea Sedlackova (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Germany) International premiere

Je Suis A Toi / I’m Yours, David Lambert (Belgium) World premiere

Low Down, Jeff Preiss (US) International premiere

Paris Of The North, Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson (Iceland) World premiere

Rocks In My Pockets, Signe Baumane (US, Latvia) World premiere

Simindis Kundzuli / Corn Island, George Ovashvili (Georgia, Germany, France, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan) World premiere

Szabadeses / Free Fall, Gyorgy Palfi (Hungary, France, South Korea) International premiere

La Tirisia / Perpetual Sadness, Jorge Perez Solano (Mexico) International premiere

Welkome Home, Angelina Nikonova (Russia) International premiere

East of the West - Competition

Axınla Asagı / Down The River, Asif Rustamov (Azerbaijan) World premiere

Bota, Iris Elezi, Thomas Logoreci (Albania, Italy) World premiere

Drevo / The Tree, Sonja Prosenc (Slovenia) World premiere

Kebab & Horoscope, Grzegorz Jaroszuk (Poland) World premiere

Kirsitubakas / Cherry Tobacco, Andres Maimik, Katrin Maimik (Estonia) World premiere

Klass Korrekcii / Corrections Class, Ivan Tverdovsky (Russia, Germany) International premiere

Norviyia / Norway, Yannis Veslemes (Greece) World premiere

Rozkos / Delight, Jitka Rudolfova (Czech Republic) International premiere

Spomenik Majklu Dzeksonu / Monument To Michael Jackson, Darko Lungulov (Serbia, Germany, Macedonia, Croatia) International premiere

Utoelet / Afterlife, Virag Zomboracz (Hungary) World premiere

VAN Yalami Furcsa Es Megmagyarazhatatlan / For Some Inexplicable Reason), Gabor Reisz (Hungary) World premiere

Varvari / Barbarians, Ivan Ikic (Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia) World premiere

Richard Mowe will be filing reviews, news and interviews from Karlovy Vary.

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