The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the oldest in the world, opens today with a tribute to the late Milos Forman. Following a screening of the Czech New Wave classic Loves of a Blonde, Carl Davis will conduct the Czech Symphonic Orchestra as they perform selections from the scores of The Firemen’s Ball, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Amadeus, and other films Forman directed. And there will be fireworks.
When Forman passed away in April, the news “hit especially hard in the Czech Republic, where he is considered something of a national hero,” writes Variety’s Peter Debruge. He recently met up with director Ivan Passer (Cutter’s Way), who co-wrote Loves of a Blonde and had been Forman’s close friend since they were both around twelve. Passer tells Debruge a few stories about their school days and early work together in what was then Czechoslovakia before looking back on the night in early 1969 when they hopped in a car and headed for the border to Austria. “This guard came out of this little booth with a Kalashnikov over his shoulder and said, ‘Comrades, where are you going?’,” Passer tells Debruge. It was a tense moment until the guard recognized Forman: “I have seen all of your movies!” To which Forman replied, “And I bet you did not like any of them!” Forman was wrong and, after describing a favorite moment from Loves of a Blonde, the guard let them pass.
Before the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the festival in Karlovy Vary, which first took place in the West Bohemian spa town in 1946, would alternate years with the Moscow Film Festival. Even so, this year’s edition is the fifty-third, and its main competition spotlights Czech productions such as Olmo Omerzu’s road movie Winter Flies and Adam Sedlak’s cycling drama Domestique. For Variety, Will Tizard talks with Radu Jude (The Happiest Girl in the World, Aferim!) about his competition entry, I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, a Romanian-Czech-French-Bulgarian-German project in which a young artist re-stages an ethnic massacre carried out by the Romanian Army in 1941. Jude tells Tizard that he was surprised to discover that “a lot of people from the crew or cast proved to be Holocaust deniers in various degrees (mostly soft).” Many people in Romania “seem to have this nostalgia for a ruler with an ‘iron hand.’ But there are also more and more honest books about the past, so there’s hope.”
Among this year’s guests are Taika Waititi and producer Carthew Neal, who are currently shooting their dark World War II comedy Jojo Rabbit in the Czech Republic; Robert Pattinson, who’ll receive the Festival President’s Award during the closing ceremony on July 7; Joana Ribeiro and Terry Gilliam, who’ll present The Man Who Killed Don Quixote; and Richard Linklater, who’ll be on hand for a special program entitled Made in Texas: Tribute to Austin Film Society. “Austin is an epicenter of cinephilia and has been instrumental in changing the face of U.S. independent film for years now,” KVIFF artistic director Karel Och tells Screen’s Wendy Mitchell. “It was about time to show in our part of the world that American cinema is not based solely in Los Angeles or New York.”
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