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Karlovy Vary Film Fest’s 50th Anniversary Program Is a Love Letter to Cinephiles

Karlovy Vary Film Fest's 50th Anniversary Program Is a Love Letter to Cinephiles

Karlovy Vary’s jubilee edition will include a retrospective of Lebanese films from the last 25 years, and tributes to late Soviet-Ukrainian auteur Larisa Shepitko and American actors John Cazale and Chris Penn.

Karlovy Vary laureate Mel Gibson, returning to the festival this year after winning the 2014 Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema, will film a special festival trailer in Los Angeles in early May. The trailer will be written and directed by Martin Krejčí, who has helmed many of this historic festival’s past trailers.

A Week of Lebanese Cinema

KVIFF annually spotlights under-seen films from far-flung regions, from Young Greek Cinema to A Female Take on Russia, and this year has programmed eight Lebanese titles from the last 25 years. Making plenty of room for women directors, films include “Hors la Vie” (1991), director Maroun Bagdadi’s Cannes Jury Prize winner about the abduction of a French journalist; Ziad Doueiri’s period hit “West Beirut” (1998); Nadine Labaki’s “Where Do We Go Now” (2011); Philippe Aractingi’s “Under the Bombs” (2007); Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige’s docu-hybrid “A Perfect Day” (2006); Eliane Raheb’s “Sleepless Nights” (2012); Corine Shawi’s “E meut” (2011); and Ghassan Salhab’s “The Valley” (2014), which concludes the program.

READ MORE: Karlovy Vary Lures Hollywood, Inspires Wes Anderson

Larisa Shepitko Retrospective

Karlovy Vary festival looks back at its own past to recall one of the key figures of Soviet cinematography in the second half of the 20th century. The life of the legendary director of Larisa Shepitko (1938–1979), whose student film “Heat” (1963) won the prize for best debut at the 14th Karlovy Vary IFF, ended in an automobile accident just as she was preparing to shoot a new film. The five films that Shepitko managed to make in her lifetime nonetheless made her an icon among female directors.

READ MORE: Mel Gibson Talks Returning to Directing, Shia LaBeouf, Vikings at Karlovy Vary (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Tributes to Chris Penn and John Cazale

Karlovy Vary remembers two late, great American actors. Admired onstage and in film in the 1970s, John Cazale (1935 – 1978) appeared in only five films, all nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. He starred for Coppola in “The Godfather” saga and “The Conversation,” as well as Sidney Lumet’s “Dog Day Afternoon” and Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter.”

The festival also remembers Chris Penn, whom Coppola took a chance on in “Rumble Fish” (1983). He starred in Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” (1992) and Tony Scott’s “True Romance” (1993). The Venice Film Festival awarded Penn on two occasions – once as a part of the ensemble cast of Robert Altman’s “Short Cuts” (1993), and three years later with a Volpi Cup for his memorable portrayal of Chez in Abel Ferrara’s gangster film “The Funeral.”

READ MORE: Films That Popped at Karlovy Vary

More on Karlovy Vary’s 2015 program here.

Ryan Lattanzio is the staff writer for TOH at Indiewire. Follow him on Twitter here.

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