Six world premieres are on tap for the narrative and documentary competitions at the upcoming Karlovy Vary Film Festival. The 45th edition of the event, which takes place in the Czech resort town of the same name, unspools July 2 – 10, 2010. Additionally, there will be 11 International debuts in the sections, screening work from both the region and around the world.
Scott Cooper’s “Crazy Heart,” starring Jeff Bridges – who took the Oscar for Best Actor earlier this year – and Maggie Gyllenhaal will open the event, while French director Pascal Chaumeil’s “Heartbreaker” will close out the festival. Actor Jude Law will receive this year’s “Festival President’s Award.” Editor and Martin Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker and producer Andrew Macdonald (“Trainspotting”) and his brother Kevin Macdonald (“One Day in September”) will also be part of the delegation of official guests. The trio will take part in introducing a tribute to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (“The Red Shoes”).
Karlovy Vary will also screen a selection of this year’s Cannes winners in addition to other films from around the globe.
Official Competition (with descriptions provided by Karlovy Vary:
“3 Seasons in Hell,” Director: Tomáš Mašín
Czech Republic, Germany, Slovak Republic, 2009, 110 min, International premiere
1947. Nineteen-year-old Ivan is the embodiment of the dreams and ideals of the period. The self-satisfied and confrontational poet finds understanding with freethinking Jana, and together they experience the end of hope: after February 1948, the Communist regime reveals its repressive side…. Tomáš Mašín’s debut feature is loosely inspired by the autobiography of leftist underground guru Egon Bondy. The artistically striking retro film took three Czech Lions: Best Camera, Sound, and Actor (Kryštof Hádek).
“Diago,” Director: Chi Zhang
China, 2010, 89 min, World premiere
Shot on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the transfer of the Portuguese colony of Macau to Chinese administration. It’s 1999 and the title character is on a personal pilgrimage to discover his Portuguese-Macanese roots, thereby opening up the theme of the individual’s (and an entire society’s) search for identity on the threshold of an uncertain postcolonial existence. The director’s 2008 film The Shaft competed at the 43rd KVIFF.
“There Are Things You Don’t Know,” Director: Fardin Saheb Zamani
Iran, 2010, 92 min, World premiere
Late-shift taxi driver Ali Mosaffa works the “mean streets” of Tehran and in the process he meets a wide variety of people. The lovely, lonely Leila starts to play an important role among his customers…. With a nod to Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), debut director Fardin Saheb Zamani’s melancholy, disquieting drama tells of alienation and the various roles which people assign themselves and others.
“Brother & Sister,” Director: Daniel Burman
Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, 2009, 105 min, International premiere
They are both alone. They need each other but, at the same time, they despise each other. Siblings Marcos and Susana are unable to heal the old wounds festering within them after the death of their mother. When Susana sells the mother’s flat, she deprives her brother of the home where he had cared for their mother his whole life. Marcos’s need to start living again surfaces when his sister forces him to leave Buenos Aires for Uruguay….
“Another Sky,” Director: Dmitri Mamulia
Russia, 2010, 86 min, International premiere
When a father and son from the Uzbek steppe move to Moscow in search of the boy’s missing mother they are condemned to the lot of the gastarbeiter. The film presents a record of the lifestyle and livelihood of people on the edge. Just as they don’t notice the intoxicating world of the metropolis, the heterogeneous environment doesn’t notice their painful solitude. They are merely goods on the rapacious work market.
“Sweet Evil,” Director: Olivier Coussemacq
France, 2009, 90 min, International premiere
French director Olivier Coussemacq has debuted with a psychological thriller about a 15-year-old girl who imposes upon an older married couple. Is it mere chance that has brought her to the home of Judge van Eyck and his wife? And what is true of what Céline has told them about her past? Is the girl an intruder or a victim?
“Hitler in Hollywood,” Director: Frédéric Sojcher
Belgium, France, Italy, 2010, 85 min, World premiere
A bio-doc about Micheline Presle changes into a thrilling investigation of the long hidden truth about European cinema. This mockumentary thriller uncovers Hollywood’s unsuspected plot against the European motion picture industry. Numerous directors and stars appear in the film, making it a choice morsel for all film lovers.
“Kooky,” Director: Jan Svěrák
Czech Republic, Denmark, 2010, 95 min, International premiere
Young Ondra has asthma and so his mom throws away his musty old stuffed bear Kooky. That night Ondra dreams that his beloved toy is determined to find his way back home from the dump. In the boy’s fantasy, the bear gets lost in a forest occupied by strange animals and remarkable beings…. In an era of impressive CGI animation that can simulate the natural world, Jan Svěrák has returned to simplicity: similar to his short film Oil Gobblers (1988 student Oscar), he combines handheld puppets with a natural environment.
Mother Teresa of Cats,” Director: Paweł Sala
Poland, 2010, 95 min, International premiere
The film is a loose reconstruction of actual events which shook Poland some years ago. Told in flashback, the film searches for the motives for such a twisted crime. How and why did this irrational evil germinate? Did it rise out of family relations, or did the murderers respond to the perverted values of the spirit of the times?
“The Mosquito Net,” Director: Agustí Vila
Spain, 2010, 95 min, World premiere
The story of a well situated urban family living under a constant shadow of guilt: the mother feels guilt with regard to her children, the father is guilty because of the home help, and the son feels responsible for all living things, particularly abandoned cats and dogs, which he picks up off the street and then places himself behind a barrier of silence…. Geraldine Chaplin (who plays a silent role in The Mosquito Net) described the film’s screenplay as one of the three best scripts she had ever read.
“Just Between Us,” Director: Rajko Grlić
Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, 2010, 89 min, International premiere
Aging but still charismatic Nikola, played by the captivating Miki Manojlović, likes to share his bed with a number of women. But should he be punished for lying to his wife, or for mistreating his lover? A comically outspoken film about complex issues in contemporary society or: slow sperm are always good for a laugh.
“Mourning for Anna,” Director: Catherine Martin
Canada,2010,87min, World premiere
The aging but elegant Francoise takes pride in her daughter’s accomplishments, however, the latter meets a sudden and violent death. The devastated woman decides to escape to a secluded place and withdraw into herself. Via a sensitive and aesthetically refined drama, the film reflects upon a difficult life situation, and also considers whether art has the ability to heal.
Documentary Films in Competition (with descriptions provided by Karlovy Vary:
“Notes on the Other,” Director: Sergio Oksman
Spain, 2009, 13 min
In his ingeniously constructed documentary, Brazilian filmmaker Sergio Oksman takes us to Pamplona, Spain during the Fiesta of San Fermin where, according to the director’s interesting hypothesis, the famous image was created of Ernest Hemingway as a writer enamored of thrills and adventure.
“The Arbor,” Director: Clio Barnard
United Kingdom, 2010, 90 min, European premiere
Debut British director Clio Barnard’s original picture, awarded at this year’s Tribeca festival, reconstructs the life of talented British playwright Andrea Dunbar who died at age 29. After spending two years conducting audio recordings with Dunbar’s family, friends, and neighbors, Barnard filmed actors flawlessly lip-synching the interviews.
“Armadillo,” Director: Janus Metz
Denmark, Sweden, 2010, 100 min
Documentarist Janus Metz and cameraman Lars Skee spent six months with a group of Danish soldiers at the Armadillo army base in Afghanistan. The outcome of their work is a gripping and highly authentic war drama that was justly awarded the Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique at this year’s Cannes film festival.
“The Mouth of the Wolf,” Director: Pietro Marcello
Italy, 2009, 76 min
Using unique archive footage, Italian documentarist and Genoese native Pietro Marcello has succeeded in brilliantly reviving the unique atmosphere of Genoa’s port quarter, which he then uses as a backdrop to unfold a singular love story between a tough but goodhearted Sicilian named Enzo and transsexual Mary. Best Film at the Torino FF.
“Familia,” Director: Mikael Wiström, Alberto Herskovits
Sweden, 2010, 82 min
The movie’s main characters are members of a poor Peruvian family. In an effort to ensure a better future for them all, 55-year-old mother Naty heads to Spain to work as a hotel maid. At this year’s Göteborg IFF, this sensitively shot film snapped up the award for Best Swedish Documentary.
Katka,” Director: Helena Třeštíková
Czech Republic, 2010, 90 min, International premiere
The main figure in the latest of Helena Třeštíková’s observational documentaries is a junkie named Katka. This powerful story of her 14-year battle with drug addiction culminates in spring 2007 when 30-year-old Katka becomes unexpectedly pregnant and the focal point of the movie shifts to the desperate struggle for the child’s future.
“Love Lust & Lies,” Director: Gillian Armstrong
Australia, 2010, 87 min, International premiere
This unique long-term project by renowned Australian filmmaker Gillian Armstrong superbly charts the apparently ordinary lives of three girls (and later women) from Adelaide, recording them from ages 14 to 47, and offering a singular look at Australian society from the mid-70s till today.
“Mum,” Director: Adelheid Roosen
Netherlands, 2009, 20 min
“Now that my mother has developed Alzheimer’s disease, I don’t see her dissolving, I see her appearing. I see her as an Alice in Wonderland: she is falling through time. I fall after her, discover where she is, what she is going through, what she is doing or saying.” By means of an originally stylized movie complete with tenderness and humor, the director undertakes a journey into the world of an ill woman.
“Marwencol,” Director: Jeff Malmberg
USA, 2010, 84 min, European premiere
After a brutal attack, Mark Hogancamp was left with permanent memory loss and brain damage. Unable to afford expensive treatment, he created his own. He built Marwencol in his backyard, a precise and colorfully populated miniature Belgian village from the period of the Second World War. Best documentary at the SXSW FF.
“The Player,” Director: John Appel
Netherlands, 2010, 83 min
As the topic of his latest work, renowned Dutch documentarist John Appel has chosen a very personal probe into the soul of a gambler. Indeed, his own father succumbed to the world of players, where, as one of the characters puts it, “You have no past, just a future where time doesn’t exist and where you can experience an absolutely unique feeling of freedom.”
“Poet of the Elephant House,” Director: Anna Juhlin
Sweden, 2010, 29 min, World premiere
Swedish documentarist Anna Juhlin offers a portrait of her grandfather, a Turkish poet who became a passionate photographer of well-known faces from the world of avant-garde art. A movie about an old poet, a man who succeeded in finding the magic of poetry not only in black-and-white photographs but in life itself.
“Little Bride,” Director: Lesław Dobrucki
Poland, 2010, 14 min, International premiere
Permeated by an atmosphere of disquiet, Polish director Lesław Dobrucki’s inventively-edited documentary focuses on a Turkish girl who, at the bidding of her family, was forced to marry in Germany at age 13. She barely managed to escape being beaten to death by her brutal husband.
“rise,” Director: Visra Vichit-Vadakan
Thailand, 2009, 8 min
In her intriguing documentary essay, Thai director Visra Vichit-Vadakan ponders the universal theme of understanding between parents and their newly adult offspring, who are looking for their own way in life and hope that their parents will understand and respect them.
“Tinar,” Director: Mahdi Moniri
Iran, 2009, 72 min, European premiere
In his sensitively constructed and visually sophisticated portrait, Iranian director Mahdi Moniri presents ten-year-old cowherd Ghasem who has been deprived of a carefree childhood. Instead he is forced, under difficult conditions, to take care of himself and the herd of cows entrusted to him.
“The River,” Director: Julija Gruodienė, Rimantas Gruodis
Lithuania, 2009, 30 min
This low-key yet highly agreeable movie by Lithuanian filmmaking duo Julija Gruodienė and Rimantas Gruodis introduces us to life in a remote village. Via eloquent, visually striking footage and the villagers’ humorous commentary, the directors acquaint us with a local way of life whose rhythm is set by a river.
“Together,” Director: Pavel Kostomarov
Russia, Switzerland, 2010, 52 min, International premiere
In his latest picture, Russian director Pavel Kostomarov introduces a loving relationship between a married couple of artistic bent. Lyudmila and Vladimir have lived and worked together for decades. Set apart from the surrounding world, their small house is filled with their drawings and wooden sculptures inspired by Celtic art.
East of the West – Films in Competition with descriptions provided by Karlovy Vary:
“9:06,” Director: Igor Šterk
Slovenia, 2009, 71 min
Police detective Dušan investigates the death of Marjan Ozim – an orderly, middle-aged man who apparently left the world voluntarily, through careful, cold-blooded planning. The investigator becomes more and more obsessed with the case, gradually taking on Marjan’s identity…. Igor Šterk’s movie begins as an ordinary crime drama and ends as a psycho-thriller about a journey to the dark depths of the soul.
“The Albanian,” Director: Johannes Naber
Germany, Albania, 2010, 104 min
A young Albanian mountain-dweller ends up in Germany as an illegal immigrant. His dream is to make enough money in order to be able to marry his beloved Etleva. But the “European dream” he cherishes, now that he is stuck in a country with no friends, experience or knowledge of the language, soon turns into a nightmare. In his socio-critical drama, debuting director Johannes Naber envisages his native Germany as a world which has no place for integrity, morality or innocence, at least not for young illegal immigrants.
“Aurora,” Director: Cristi Puiu
Romania, France, Switzerland, Germany, 2010, 181 min
At age 42, Viorel is an inconspicuous, newly divorced man living in the suburbs of Bucharest; he is also someone planning to commit murder. The new film by the director of The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, a movie that helped promote contemporary Romanian film, ponders murder as something dangerously ordinary.
“Gastarbeiter,” Director: Yusup Razykov
Russia, 2009, 88 min, International premiere
Sadyk’s grandson has disappeared in Russia as one of thousands of Uzbeks who travel there for work. The old man sets out for Moscow unaware of the contents of the package he is carrying for his benefactor. Despite a mishap involving drug smuggling, he doesn’t give up his search for his grandson. Vika, a prostitute who’s been around the block, tries to help but she’s on the run from the Mafia….
“The Dolls,” Director: Chingiz Rasulzade
Azerbaijan, 2010, 85 min, World premiere
The Soviet Union, Baku, 1989. The breakup of the empire is imminent. A group of young men work while disguised as various characters, allowing passersby to photograph them. The guys wear the masks not only at work, but also at home and in company. It’s no wonder that they try to get rid of all the masks and find their own actual face.
“Don’t Look into the Mirror,” Director: Suren Babayan
Armenia, 2009, 101 min, European premiere
One day, an aging, none-too-attractive man, whose artistic ambitions faded long ago, looks in the mirror and sees an entirely different person. His life changes into a bizarre series of comic and tragic episodes. Director Suren Babayan based his visually rich, surreal movie on the novel by Perch Zeytuntsyan as an original variation on the classic tale of the mirror double.
“The Abandoned,” Director: Adis Bakrač
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, France, 2010, 88 min, World premiere
14-year-old Alen lives in a Sarajevan orphanage. He’s convinced that he is the son of a French woman and an Englishman who met as war correspondents but were forced by circumstances to part ways. Director Adis Bakrač unfolds the drama of a boy looking for love in a hostile world, and wonders what chance a child has, growing up without parental care among the shadows of the past.
“The Temptation of St Tony,” Director: Veiko Õunpuu
Estonia, Sweden, Finland, 2009, 114 min
Tony is returning from the stale and desperate Estonian village where he buried his father to his placidly affluent manager’s life in Tallinn when chance sends him on a surreal, symbolic journey that examines (and calls into question) his notions of good and even of himself.
“Woman With a Broken Nose,” Director: Srdjan Koljević
Serbia, Germany, 2010, 104 min, International premiere
Serbian director Srdjan Koljević, in his second film, offers a gentle mosaic of the lives of several lost souls who have to overcome the emotional traumas of their past in order to put their ruined lives back together. Their destinies, however, are linked by a tragic event.
“Dreamers,” Director: Jitka Rudolfová
Czech Republic, 2009, 97 min, International premiere
Now in their thirties, the film’s six protagonists, who left northern Bohemia for Prague after graduating from high school, are taking stock of their lives. Is it too soon for a change? Or perhaps it’s too late because it’s hard to jump off a moving train. Jitka Rudolfová’s debut is a generational statement that perceives the relationship problems of today’s 30-somethings with understanding and ironic detachment.