Forman to the fore in Karlovy Vary

Celebration of Oscar-lauded director

by Richard Mowe

Hana Brejchova in Miloš Forman’s Loves Of A Blonde will open the Karlovy Vary International
 Film Festival
Hana Brejchova in Miloš Forman’s Loves Of A Blonde will open the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Photo: Miloš Forman archive
The life and career of the great Czech director Miloš Forman, who died on April 13 at the age of 86, will be celebrated at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival whose organisers have announced the event will open in his memory with Loves Of A Blonde.

An open concert b y the Czech National Orchestra will feature music from Forman’s films, among them The Firemen’s Ball, Taking Off, Valmont, Amadeus and Hair.

Forman who went to the States in the 1960s and latterly lived in Connecticut.

The president of KVIFF Jiří Bartoška said that the festival had decided to honour Forman “not through laudatory speeches but through what he symbolised - film. He was not only an excellent filmmaker, but also a great friend of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival”.

The late Miloš Forman - opening film and career focus in Karlovy Vary
The late Miloš Forman - opening film and career focus in Karlovy Vary Photo: Unifrance
Born on February 18, 1932, outside Prague, Forman was the youngest of three brothers. His father, a Jewish army reservist in the First World War and university teacher, was arrested for disseminating banned books to his students. His Protestant mother was arrested after shopping at a local grocery where anti-Nazi propaganda was found. Both died in concentration camps, making Forman an orphan at age 10. Raised by foster parents, Forman attended film school in Prague. There he helped establish the Czech New Wave, a group of filmmakers chronicling the grim realities of life behind the Iron Curtain. He made his mark with a film and theatre presentation at the 1958 Brussels World Exhibition. His early feature, Loves of a Blonde, won attention on the international festival circuit in 1965 and was Oscar nominated for best foreign language film.

Two years later, The Firemen’s Ball, annoyed Czech officials with its spoof of the firefighting bureaucracy, and it was also Oscar nominated. When the Soviet Union invaded in August 1968, Forman was in Paris negotiating to make a Hollywood film which became his first American feature, a youth comedy Taking Off. It was released in 1971 to a muted response.

He won five Oscars for his adaptation of Ken Kesey’s tragicomic novel One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest including best director and best film. Forman struck gold again in 1984 with Amadeus, winning eight Oscars including best picture and best director while F Murray Abraham won the best actor award. He was nominated again in 1997 for The People vs. Larry Flynt.

In other news from the Festival, which runs from June 29 to July 7 there will be an extensive retrospective of poetic documentaries from the Baltic region on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the independence of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Among the selected documentaries are Latvian films by Ivars Kraulitis, Aivars Freimanis, Herz Frank, early pioneer of the new cinematic style Uldis Brauns, two award-winning documentaries, The Old Man And The Land and The Dreams Of The Centenarians, by the founding father of Lithuanian poetic documentary film, Robertas Verba, A Trip Across Misty Meadows by Henrikas Šablevičius, and Estonian films by Andres Sööt, Ülo Tambek and Mark Soosaar.

The section will also contain films from the 1990s, such as The Land Of The Blind, Anti-Gravitation, and Laila Pakalniņa’s trilogy The Linen, The Ferry and The Mail.

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