Female filmmakers will make up 28% of the competition lineup at the 2015 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
The Czech-based event, one of Europe’s premier film festivals, holds four competitions: the Official Selection, “East of the West” (focusing on regional works), Forum of Independents (celebrating indie productions), and Documentary Films. A majority of the women directors in competition hail from Europe.
The two female-helmed films (out of 13) in the Official Selection are Anca Damian’s climbing saga “The Magic Mountain” and Eva Neymann’s Jewish remembrance “Song of Songs.”
The festival, which will take place on July 3-11, will celebrate its 50th iteration this year.
Here are the 2015 Karlovy Vary’s women-directed films in competition. All descriptions are courtesy of the KVIFF.
Official Selection Competition
A non-specialized international competition of feature-length films that are world, international or European premieres.
“The Magic Mountain”
Director: Anca Damian
Romania, France, Poland, 2015, 95 min, International premiere
The Magic Mountain investigates the adventures of mountain climber and photographer Adam J. Winkler, who fought in Afghanistan with the mujahedin against the Soviets in the 1980s. The director employs a highly original artistic technique involving animated collage of period materials.
“Song of Songs”
Director: Eva Neymann
Ukraine, 2015, 75 min, World premiere
The acclaimed work by renowned Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem served as inspiration for the Ukrainian filmmaker, whose third picture offers a markedly stylized vision of the lost world of the Jewish shtetl at the beginning of the 20th century. Poetic scenes created using truly magical images are loosely connected via the motif of childhood love, while the film’s imaginative form is imbued with nostalgia.
East of the West Competition
International competition – first and second films from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and the countries of the former Soviet Union that are world, international or European premieres.
“The Wednesday Child”
Director: Lili Horváth
Hungary, Germany, 2015, 94 min, World premiere
History sometimes repeats itself. As a nine-year-old, Maja was abandoned by her mother and placed in an orphanage. Now it’s ten years later and she keeps returning to the institution, now to visit her four-year-old son. Will she be able to take control of her life despite the unfavorable circumstances and her own self-destructive tendencies?
“You Carry Me”
Director: Ivona Juka
Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, 2015, 155 min, World premiere
Ives, Nataša, Vedran, and his wife. Four people, four different destinies that cross during the filming of a soap opera entitled “Prisoners of Happiness.” Ivona Juka’s feature debut offers a colorful portrait of four strong personalities whose desire for satisfaction bumps up against seemingly insurmountable day-to-day problems.
Forum of Independents Competition
International competition of independent feature-length films that are world, international or European premieres.
Director: Sonia Boileau Bonspille
Canada, 2015, 77 min, World premiere
One night Lydia is attacked as she’s preparing to close her father’s store, and in the next few hours she is forced to make a number of life-altering decisions. In her powerful psychological drama, the director demonstrates her sensitivity in depicting the world of the Inuit community as well as the inner emotions of the young protagonist.
Director: Tali Shalom-Ezer
Israel, 2014, 92 min, European premiere
Puberty is giving 12-year-old Adar a rough ride. A fascinating chamber piece in which debuting Tali Shalom-Ezer deftly transforms a playful dream into a provocative, even devastating nightmare.
Director: Paz Fábrega
Costa Rica, 2015, 71 min, European premiere
San Jose, Costa Rica, the present. Pedro (30) and Luciana (29) meet at a party. Although there’s no fatal attraction, there’s a hint that something is happening between them. What follows is an impulsive decision to travel together to the base of the Rincon de la vieja volcano in the northwest of the country. Forget about past traumas, this unassuming romance focuses on the importance and singularity of the here and now.
Director: Helen Walsh
United Kingdom, 2015, 96 min, International premiere
The protagonists of this visually commanding picture are two girls who come from different social backgrounds. Shelly, who lives alone with her brothers and financially carefree Rachel are connected via emotional alienation. Their mutual encounter proves to be a milestone in their lives – with one emerging reborn, the other scarred.
Documentary Films Competition
Documentary films included in this section are divided into two categories: films up to 30 minutes in length and films over 60 minutes in length.
Director: Noura Kevorkian
Canada, 2015, 90 min, World premiere
Suffering from an advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease, Barkev Kevorkian spends his time recalling the past when he worked at a foundry, loved fast drive, and enjoyed time with his little girl. In this courageous documentary essay, the Lebanese-born director contemplates all the things a serious illness takes from your life.
Director: Alba Sotorra
Spain, Germany, 2015, 78 min, International premiere
Djalal has loved weapons since before he could walk. But success in the virtual world, where thousands of followers watch his videos, is not enough – so he heads to Afghanistan as a sniper. Unfortunately, actual war is a dull business that drags on endlessly. Will the young man, who is still searching for his place in the real world, realize that the game is over and that it’s time to grow up?
Director: Eileen Hofer
Switzerland, 2015, 67 min, International premiere
A dance school in Havana. Ballet means everything to adolescent Amanda, experienced Viengsay, and renowned local legend Alicia Alonso. The contours of the characters intermingle as three portraits flow into one: a single female destiny presented in three forms. A documentary of commitment and passion for ballet that become a metaphor for the lack of freedom suffered by the inhabitants of the island nation. I
“Kacey Mottet Klein, Birth of an Actor”
Director: Ursula Meier
Switzerland, 2015, 14 min How does a child become an actor? And how does the acting profession influence his or her relationship to the world? In Ursula Meier’s documentary teenage Kacey Mottet Klein answers these very questions. Following the road from the playground to the film set, the film presents a study of how mind and body mature before the camera lens.
Director: Helena Třeštíková
Czech Republic, 2015, 97 min, World premiere
Life hasn’t been easy on Mallory but after the birth of her son she tries desperately to kick her drug habit, and to stop living on the street. She wants to turn her back on her dark past and help those she knows best – people on the fringes of society. In her latest long-term documentary, Helena Třeštíková demonstrates that even seemingly hopeless lives needn’t be cut short halfway.
Director: Cosima Spender
United Kingdom, Italy, 2015, 90 min, European premiere
The oldest and most famous palio – a rough-and-tumble bareback horserace – takes place twice yearly in the heart of Siena. The race not only requires riding skills but also a healthy dose of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing. Who will come out on top – legendary jockey Gigi Bruschelli or his gifted former trainee Giovanni Atzeni? The answer lies in this gripping docudrama, in which emotion, movement, and gesture are pared down to their most crystalline form.
“Women in Sink”
Director: Iris Zaki
United Kingdom, Israel, 2015, 30 min
It’s packed at Fifi’s beauty salon in Haifa. As is normal in such a place, the women are quick to enter into conversation. The young director takes advantage of the situation, allowing her customers to air their opinions on the coexistence of Arabs and Jews as she washes their hair, while also offering a more general look at politics, history, love, and life.