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June 23, 2009 1:57 AM
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Czech It Out: Karlovy Vary Announces Lineup

A scene from Sophie Barthes' "Cold Souls." Image courtesy of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has announced its 65-film slate for its 44th edition, running July 3-11, 2009. 19 world premieres and 34 international premieres are among the selected, which includes opening night film "The Greatest," directed by Shana Feste, and closing night film "The Boat That Rocked," directed by Richard Curtis. Fourteen films will screen in the festival's official competition, with only those that haven't been previously shown in the competition of another international film festival eligible. The lone US entry is Sophie Barthes' "Cold Souls," which will compete against a diverse mix of films from around the world, including Martin Pieter Zandvliet's "Applause," Jeon Soo-il's "Himalaya, Where the Wind Dwells," Andreas Dresen's "Whiskey with Vodka," and Frederic Dumont's "Angel at Sea." The full list of competition titles, with descriptions provided by the festival, is listed below. For a complete list of Karlovy Vary's programs, check out the festival's website.

Angel at Sea | Un ange a la mer
Director: Frederic Dumont Belgium, Canada, 2009, 86 min, WP Twelve-year-old Louis lives with his parents and older brother in a small town in southern Morocco. Louis is a happy boy until the moment when his father tells him a secret that only they will share. This successful feature debut relies on excellent performances by Olivier Gourmet, Anne Consigny, and especially the convincing Martin Nissen as Louis. The movie is gorgeous to look at, and features a gripping story.

Applause | Applause
Director: Martin Pieter Zandvliet Denmark, 2009, 86 min, WP Danish director Martin Pieter Zandvliet debuts with a suggestive psychological portrait of an actress whose life has been destroyed by alcohol; now, after a stint in rehab, she tries to regain what is (as she states herself at least), most important to her: her two young boys.

Black Sheep | Oveja negra
Director: Humberto Hinojosa Ozcariz Mexico, 2009, 83 min, IP Arthur flags down a truck on the motorway during the night. In order to stop his weary driver from falling asleep in front of the wheel, he tells him a gripping story about two friends - shepherds - who decide to take their hapless fate into their own hands. A tale of courage, adventure, love and friendship, in which the characters are confronted with their dreams.

Cold Souls | Cold Souls
Director: Sophie Barthes USA, 2008, 101 min, EP A melancholic comedy by debuting Sophie Barthes which presents Paul Giamatti as a New York stage actor who decides to confront his approaching nervous breakdown by having his soul extracted and deep-frozen. Gogol, Bunuel, Jung and Woody Allen were the inspiration behind this original film, screened for the first time at this year's Sundance festival.

Freedom | Tutta colpa di Giuda
Director: Davide Ferrario Italy, 2009, 102 min, IP When a young avantgarde director decides to stage the Easter Passion in a prison, she has no idea how much the experience will change her life and what problems she'll be up against: none of the inmates involved in the play wants to take on the role of Judas. This musical comedy features performances from actual prisoners.

Himalaya, Where the Wind Dwells | Barami Memounen Got, Himalaya
Director: Jeon Soo-il South Korea, France, 2008, 95 min, IP A minimalist film which follows the mission of an aging Korean man who, wearing a business suit and an overcoat, arrives in a remote little village high up in the mountainous region of Nepal. His anabasis captured in distanced shots reflects the process of inner revival but also refutes the idealistic tradition of "journeys from the city".

I am Not Your Friend | Nem vagyok a baratod
Director: Gyoergy Palfi Hungary, 2009, 100 min, IP Sara loves Mark and they are expecting a baby. He loves her too, but he also loves Sophie. She has eyes for Andras, it's just that he's married to Rita, who looks after young Natasha - and so on and so forth. His new project confirms director Gyoergy Palfi (Taxidermia) as an experimental provocateur. This highly cynical mosaic of disaffected relationships came together in 20 days of improvisation by the filmmakers and nine amateur actors.

Piggies | winki
Director: Robert Gliski Poland, Germany, 2009, 94 min, WP Tomek is a good student, he's interested in astronomy and plays football to please his father. Except that he lives in a little border town plagued by unemployment and poverty, whereas, on the other side of the river, lies Germany with all its relative affluence. When Tomek meets Marta at his first disco and falls in love with her, he starts to think up ways of earning money in order to keep her interested. He has no idea of the brutal fate which awaits him.

Soul at Peace | Pokoj v dui
Director: Vladimir Balko Slovak Republic, 2009, 97 min, IP Tono, a man in his forties, is released after many years in prison and tries to resume his life as an ordinary citizen. Jii Kian's script, Martin Trba's camerawork and meticulous direction from Vladimir Balko together create a compelling tragedy about crime and its consequences, the desire to start afresh in spite of spectres from the past, about faith in good things, and a propensity towards evil.

Twenty | Bist
Director: Abdolreza Kahani Iran, 2009, 88 min, IP Only twenty days remain before the closure of a small restaurant, and its staff, for whom working for Mr Soleimani means much more than a mere source of income, decide to do something about it. The initial tragi-comic situation turns into a moving psychological drama not only about people, but also about the place and age in which they live.

Villa Amalia | Villa Amalia
Director: Benoit Jacquot France, Switzerland, 2008, 97 min, IP When Ann sees her partner kissing another woman, she decides not only to end their long-standing relationship, but also to erase her past completely. She wants to start again with a clean slate, even though she's not as young as she used to be. An old, abandoned house above the sea might be the place where she finds her footing again. No actress could have portrayed Ann with such conviction as Isabelle Huppert.

Whisky with Vodka | Whisky mit Wodka
Director: Andreas Dresen Germany, 2009, 108 min, IP Renowned actor Otto is as well-liked as he is moody. So what happens when a nervous director hires an understudy? This tragicomedy, by the director of the festival hit Cloud 9 (Karlovy Vary IFF 2008), is enhanced by a "film within a film" about unforeseen relationship intrigues. Will the rest of the crew, let alone audiences, take a liking to Otto?

Will Not Stop There | Nije kraj
Director: Vinko Brean Croatia, Serbia, 2008, 112 min, IP War veteran Martin happens to see the beautiful Desa in a porn version of Little Red Riding Hood. Through the Romany Djuro he makes the girl's acquaintance and buys her from her pimp. The deeply traumatised girl can't understand that this isn't just another man who wants to take advantage of her. It later turns out that both protagonists have something in their past which comes back to haunt them, even now the war has ended... Experienced director Vinko Brean has come up with a tragicomic story of love in a world where it seems all human values are put up for sale or destined for cynical destruction.

Wolfy | Volok
Director: Vassily Sigarev Russia, 2009, 86 min, IP From the very start of the film it's clear that, for Mother, the birth of Daughter is an unwelcome burden, and that's how it'll always be. Until, one day, when it's too late, Mother realizes that she has not only ruined her own life, but her daughter's as well. Despite his young age, Vassily Sigarev has written 18 stage plays, one of which, Plasticine, was performed in Prague's DISK theatre five years ago. His film debut, based on his own play, demonstrates that Sigarev is well able to convey his own, distinctive style to the big screen just as effectively as he has done for the stage. Wolfy recently took the top award at the Kinotavr festival of Russian films in Sochi.

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