Cousins and Swinton take a bow at Karlovy Vary

World premiere of documentary about pioneering woman artist

by Richard Mowe

Mark Cousins’ documentary portrait of 'one of the most important women in British modern art' will have its world premiere at Karlovy Vary
Mark Cousins’ documentary portrait of 'one of the most important women in British modern art' will have its world premiere at Karlovy Vary Photo: Courtesy of KVIFF
Mark Cousins, a regular visitor to Karlovy Vary
Mark Cousins, a regular visitor to Karlovy Vary Photo: Courtesy of KVIFF
Among the titles revealed by the organisers of the 58th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech spa town (28 June to 6 July) will be the world premiere of director Mark Cousins’ A Sudden Glimpse Of Deeper Things.

Described as “a creative biography” of the Scottish artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, who is voiced by Tilda Swinton, reading from her private diaries and notebooks which previously have never been made by public.

The documentary portrait aims to reveal one of the most important women in British modern art. Barns-Graham was a highly inspirational figure, whose work was deeply impacted by a pivotal event in her life. In May 1949, at the age of 36, this leading representative of the modernist St Ives group of artists climbed to the top of the Grindelwald glacier in Switzerland, an experience which was to transform the way she saw the world.

She spent the rest of her life capturing its shapes and colours, indeed its very essence. In his essayistic portrait Cousins delves into complex themes of gender, climate change and creativity, while laying bare the artist’s character and vast imagination so pervasively that he creates the impression we are seeing the world through her eyes.

The world sales rights to the film have been acquired by the Paris-based outfit Reservoir Docs and it was part-funded by Screen Scotland and supported by the Wilhelmina Barns-Graham Trust.

Cousins whose recent productions have included My Name Is Alfred Hitchcock and The March On Rome evoking Mussolini’s march on the Italian capital, has been a regular visitor to the Festival over the years.

The film will compete with 34 other titles (including 11 world premieres) as part of the Crystal Globe Competition, the Proxima Competition and Special Screenings.

Other directors receiving World Premieres include Beata Parkanova the Czech/Slovak production Tiny Lights viewing a family break-up through the eyes of a child; Noaz Desche’s Xoftex, set in a Greek refugee camp where inmates are creating a zombie horror film; and Real from Ukrainian filmmaker and activist Oleg Sentsov, who joined the Ukrainian army shortly after Russia’s invasion in 2022.

The jury charged with awarding the Crystal Globes comprise producer Christine Vachon (honoured with a special focus last year), actor Geoffrey Rush, director Gábor Reisz, poet and novelist Sjón and actress Eliška Křenková.

Crystal Globe Competition

  • Rude to Love (Japan) Dir: Yukihiro Morigaki
  • Banzo (Por-Fr-Neth) Dir: Margarida Cardoso
  • Pierce (Sing-Tai-Pol) Dir: Nelicia Low
  • Three Days of Fish (Neth-Bel) Dir: Peter Hoogendoorn
  • Loveable (Nor) Dir: Lilja Ingolfsdottir
  • The Hungarian Dressmaker (Slovak-Cz) Dir: Iveta Grófová
  • Our Lovely Pig Slaughter (Cz-Slovak) Dir: Adam Martinec
  • Panopticon (Georgia-Fr-It-Rom) Dir: George Sikharulidze
  • Celebration (Cro-Qatar) Dir: Bruno Anković
  • A Sudden Glimpse to Deeper Things (UK) Dir: Mark Cousins
  • Tiny Lights (Cz-Slovak) Dir: Beata Parkanová
  • Xoftex (Ger-Fr) Dir: Noaz Deshe

Proxima Competition

  • Windless (Bulg-It) Dir: Pavel G. Vesnakov

  • Cabo Negro (Fr-Mor) Dir: Abdellah Taïa

  • Chlorophyll (It) Dir: Ivana Gloria
  • The Alienated (Ger-Mol-Fr) Dir: Anja Kreis
  • Nothing in Its Place (Tur-Ger-S Kor) Dir: Burak Çevik
  • Stranger (US-China-Neth-Nor-Fr) Dir: Zhengfan Yang
  • Lapilli (Slovak-Ger) Dir: Paula Ďurinová
  • March to May (Cz) Dir: Martin Pavol Repka
  • Second Chance (India) Dir: Subhadra Mahajan
  • Trans Memoria (Swe-Fr) Dir: Victoria Verseau
  • Tropicana (Isr-Can) Dir: Omer Tobi
  • Night Has Come (Peru-Sp-Mex) Dir: Paolo Tizón

Special Screenings

  • Czechoslovak Architecture 58–89 (Cz-Slovak) Dir: Jan Zajíček

  • In the Land of Brothers (Ir-Fr-Neth) Dir: Alireza Ghasemi, Raha Amirfazli
  • I’m Not Everything I Want to Be (Cz-Slovak) Dir: Klára Tasovská
  • The Song of Others - A Search for Europe (Switz) Dir: Vadim Jendreyko
  • Real (Ukr-Cro) Dir: Oleg Sentsov
  • The Other One (Cz) Dir: Marie-Magdalena Kochová
  • Tatabojs.doc (Cz) Dir: Marek Najbrt
  • Waves (Cz) Dir: Jiří Mádl
  • Journey to the Brink of War (Fr) Dir: Antonin Peretjatko
  • The Gardener’s Year (Cz) Dir: Jiří Havelka

Real from Ukrainian filmmaker and activist Oleg Sentsov
Real from Ukrainian filmmaker and activist Oleg Sentsov Photo: Courtesy of KVIFF

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