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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Founded in 1946, Karlovy Vary is one of the oldest film festivals in the world and also one of the most unique. While the festival can feel a lot like Cannes, Jr. upon first glance, it quickly becomes clear that this is far from the case. For one, the setting - rightfully described as a “Baroque Disneyland” by many - arguably makes Cannes look like Fort Lauderdale. And those onlookers? Unlike Cannes, they actually get to see the films. In 2009, the festival sold 143,781 tickets (which cost just 65 koruna, or $3.50) - a new record - mostly to a wide array of young backpackers and students from the Czech Republic and surrounding countries who camp out during the 8-day event. With beer stands set up throughout the town to accomodate the festival’s demographic, you often question whether you’re at a film festival or a college orientation week. Things weren't always this way. For more than 40 years the festival was organized under the pressure of the political situation in socialist Czechoslovakia. After the social changes in November 1989 the festival struggled for several years with lack of interest from the state as well as public, in whose eyes it was almost irretrievably discredited. In 1994, the organization of the festival was taken up by a new team, spearheaded by Czech actor Jiří Bartoška and film columnist and critic Eva Zaoralová, who decided to transform the stagnant show into a film forum of international importance. For one thing, the 29th Karlovy Vary IFF inaugurated an entirely new tradition. After nearly forty years of alternating with the Moscow International Film Festival, the festival began once again to take place every year. Since 1998 the organization of the festival has been carried out by Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary, a joint stock company. Today the core of the festival's program is the feature film competition; in accordance with their regulations, only those films which have not been shown in competition at any other international festivals can be included. The festival also includes productions coming out of little known film industries in Eastern Europe, retrospectives, and an overview of Czech film output during the past year.

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