“Vary, as those in the know call the festival, is the anti-Cannes,” wrote Dinah Spritzer about the Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the Globespotters Blog in the New York Times. She noted that the festival is not a hive of buzz for the glamour set, besieged with supermodels (or we might add, their carbon copies) and Hollywood agents, like its better known cousin on the Cote d’Azur. “Karlovy Vary is like a Baroque Disneyland, but in a good way,” Spritzer quoted Julietta Sichel, KV’s festival program director. This year’s event showcased 226 films from 64 countries from July 3 -11, a decent number of which hailed from Cannes.
The 44th Karlovy fest (by comparison, Cannes turned 62 this year) was rumored to be in jeopardy of taking place at all due to the financial meltdown which has caused shockwaves throughout the film festival world. The rumors were persistent enough that KV’s president Jiri Bartoska made the move to assure the festival would take place, according to an article published by the local Czech-netz.com. But the financial crisis nevertheless remained on attendees minds, with actor Antonio Banderas, attending Karlovy Vary to accept the President’s Award commenting, “The crisis has taken us by surprise and it is stabbing us in the back,” in a quote printed in Australia’s Brisbane Times. “It is very difficult to get a penny from a bank now, we are in a difficult situation.” Banderas also presented his directorial debut, “El Camino de los Ingleses” (Summer Rain) at the festival.
So finances aside, what about the films that did make it to Karlovy Vary? indieWIRE’s Peter Knegt picked out five new films of note – titles that did not simply land in KV after many exhausting rounds on the festival circuit. Unfortunately, those were his slim picks from the roughly two dozen he watched. Among the five was Frederic Dumont’s “Angel at Sea,” which took the fest’s Grand Prix. Also rounding out the small group were Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s “Applause,” Valerij Todorovski’s “Hipsters,” Andrey Khrzhanovsky’s “Room and a Half” and Vassily Sigarev’s “Wolfy.” Cinema Without Borders gave special note to Cypriot Christos Georgiou’s “Small Crime,” a comedy about a police graduate who is stuck up in a sleepy Aegean village. Iranian filmmaker Abdolreza Kahani’s “Twenty” also received positive attention, says Press TV. The 88-minute long film won a special jury prize as well as an award from the Ecumenical jury. The film is about a reception hall’s staff, who fear for their jobs after the owner decides to sell the place in twenty days. Kahani began his film career at the age of 15 with short film, “The Smile” in 1988.
While much of the world turned its eyes to Los Angeles, with the shocking – or not so shocking – death of Michael Jackson, one of the pop icon’s most important collaborators skipped the MJ memorial at Staples Center. Music Legend Quincy Jones, who attended the KV fest to receive the Sunflower Philanthropy Award, told Variety in an interview, “I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve lost so many friends over the past years. Ray Charles, Marlon Brando, Michelangelo Antonioni. I just don’t want to be standing there looking at some casket.”