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The Boys from County Clare to open Karlovy Vary


The Karlovy Vary IFF is the most important international film festival in Central and Eastern Europe and the only A-grade festival in the Czech Republic. Its A-grade status (a “non-specialised festival with a feature film competition”) ranks the Karlovy Vary IFF among a group of prestigious festivals which e.g. also includes Cannes, Berlin, Venice and Tokyo. The conception of the festival, screening over 200 new films from all over the world for the first time in Czech Republic, is constructed on its favourable geo-political location on the border between Eastern and Western Europe.
The Karlovy Vary IFF is one of the few festivals in its category which is open to the lay public. Young people, in particular, create the unique atmosphere and surprise foreign visitors time and time again with their interest and immediate response to what are often demanding films.
The year-round preparations will culminate on July 2, 2004 with the gala opening of the 39th Karlovy Vary IFF. The growing public interest this year has again prompted us to expand our festival services; we are putting together a high-quality programme whose carefully balanced conception is a guarantee that both Czech and foreign visitors attending the 39th year of the festival will once more have the unique opportunity of seeing many of the most important films of the past season, a number of which we are able to tell you about now.
We are convinced that, this year again, all films which, in their artistic potential, also have something to say to audiences beyond the borders of the origin country, will enjoy the recognition they deserve, and their screening in Karlovy Vary will ensure their international success, as was the case last year, for example, for Sylvie Testud, whose performance in the main role in the film by Alain Corneau Stupeur et tremblements was awarded a César (the French national film award). We are proud that this award was won by an actress who introduced the competition film Stupeur et tremblements in person at the 38th Karlovy Vary IFF, where she won the award for Best Actress.

Over 230 films will be screened at the 39th Karlovy Vary IFF, in the following sections:

Official Selection – Competition

The exceptional status of the Karlovy Vary IFF official selection always ensures that these films attract the largest audiences. Only films made after January 1, 2003, are eligible for the competition, those which have not been screened in competition at other international festivals. The films, which undergo a tough selection process, are usually screened before audiences and critics in their international or world premieres.
As stipulated by the FIAPF festival statutes, we will present a complete list of competing films 14 days before the start of the festival. However, at this stage, we can already inform you that Czech film will be represented in competition by the film MISTŘI (Masters) by Marek Najbrt in his directing debut.

Feature-length and short documentary films in international competition

The documentary films included in this competition are divided into two categories: films up to 30 minutes in length, and those over 30 minutes. The theme of the documentaries screened in competition focus on the relationship between the individual and the world around him, inter-personal relationships and serious social issues. This year we can expect a colourful selection of documentaries with films coming from countries such as Poland, France, Germany, Denmark and other European countries, also from Argentina and Korea.
Czech documentary filmmaking will be represented by the film by Theodora Remundová NIČEHO NELITUJI (No Regrets).


The informative section Horizons includes, in particular, those films which attracted considerable attention abroad over the last season. Let’s turn our attention for the time being to films which created a stir at other A-grade festivals and, in many cases, won awards:
From last year’s Venice festival we have, for example, the film by celebrated director Marco Bellocchio BUONGIORNO, NOTTE (Good Morning, Night) about the abduction and murder of the politician Aldo Moro by the so-called Red Brigade during the 1970s, the work by well-known Thai director Pen-ek Ratanaruang LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, or the debut by Sardinian director Salvatore Mereu BALLO A TRE PASSI (Dance in three steps).
A great amount of excitement was generated by another film by the most famous Korean director Kim Ki-duk, a big fan of the Karlovy Vary IFF, BOM, YEREUM, GAEUL, GYEOUL....GEURIGO BOM (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter...and Spring), screened last year in Locarno, which will be distributed by SPI, who will be presenting the film at Karlovy Vary in its Czech premiere.
GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING by director Peter Weber will also be shown in its premiere; the film competed in San Sebastian last year and is distributed in the Czech Republic by BONTON. The central character of the film inspired by the life of the artist Vermeer is Scarlett Johansson, who visited Karlovy Vary in 2001 as the young protagonist in the competition film GHOST WORLD, and who has since then grown into one of the most talented stars in Hollywood.
We have selected several film delights for visitors to Karlovy Vary from this year’s Berlin Film Festival: the winning German film GEGEN DIE WAND (Head-On) by director of Turkish origin Fatih Akin, and the film MONSTER, the story of a mass murderess, for whose portrayal the South African actress Charlize Theron won an Oscar and Silver Bear (the film will be distributed in this country by BONTON). We are also planning to screen the film by Richard Linklater BEFORE SUNSET, which will be shown in Czech cinemas through WARNER BROS. Other films from the Berlin competition are the Danish film FORBRYDELSER (In Your Hands) by Anette Olesen and the Swedish film OM JAG VANDER MIF OM (Daybreak), directed by Björn Runge.
We also plan to include brand new films from the approaching Cannes Film Festival: we hope to screen a film by a favourite among Czech and international cinephiles, Pedro Almodóvar, LA MALA EDUCACIÓN (Bad Education), which will open the 57th Cannes Film Festival and will be presented in the Czech Republic by HCE; we would also like to invite viewers to see the latest opus by the equally famous Coen brothers, LADYKILLERS, whose advance screening will be held by FALCON. After the Cannes festival ends, we will also endeavour to include award-winning films in the programme.

Another View

In this section we present, as usual, films which are a little different, whether thematically or stylistically, or which, in the director’s fresh approach, set themselves apart; often these films originate in little known or small film industries, such as Mongolia where filmmakers got together with their German counterparts to make DIE GESCHICHTE VOM WEINENDEN KAMEL (The Story of the Weeping Camel), directed by Byambasuren Davaa and Luigi Falorni, or Israel with the film AVANIM (Stones), directed by Raphael Nadjari, which shows the shady side of fundamentalist society. Apart from the traditional examples of work by Korean, Japanese, Iranian and Indian filmmakers, we will also bring you the Canadian film FALLING ANGELS by director Scott Smith, capturing somewhat chaotic family relationships. The film WILD SIDE will possibly cause a certain amount of controversy, whose maker Sébastien Liftshitz is one of the leading young talents of French cinema. His sympathetic and unusual view of characters on the edge of society, and his masterful direction of highly delicate scenes without the inevitable sensationalism, won admiration in the informative section of this year’s Berlin Film Festival, where the film garnered several awards.

East of the West

This section attempts to map out contemporary film production in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including territories once governed under the Soviet Union. Apart from new films from Poland, Hungary and Russia, this section will also screen films from less familiar film environments. For example, the Romanian film FARAONUL (Pharaoh) by director Sinisa Dragin received an enthusiastic response at the festival in Alba. Sergei Loznitsa, a frequent guest at the Karlovy Vary IFF, will certainly impress the public this year with his original work LANDSCHAFT (Landscape). Young visitors to Karlovy Vary, in particular, will undoubtedly enjoy the Hungarian film MIX, which was made by Steven Lovy, an American of Hungarian descent, and is based on his brother’s screenplay; the film describes contemporary Hungarian society as seen through the eyes of a foreigner (distributed by SPI).

Forum of Independents

Forum of Independents will bring, as usually, the best from the independent scene of the last year. Forum will introduce not only the US Independents, but also the filmmakers from China, Argentina, Iran and Europe. Among the highlights of this year′s Forum will be the portrait of the American documentary filmmaker and the pioneer of the “direct cinema” Albert Maysles, whose cult films SALESMAN, GIMME SHELTER or WHAT´S HAPPENING! BEATLES IN THE USA became already a part of the world cinema history.

7th Variety Critics’ Choice

The collection of films coming under the heading “Variety Critics’ Choice” has been screened for several years now and always attracts considerable attention; the screenings are part of the broader project organised by Variety magazine “Ten to Watch”. This will be the seventh year that critics, headed by Steve Gaydos and Derek Elley, will, over a two-day period, be presenting their selection of ten films in European production which captured their imagination last season. The screenings will again be held with the support of European Film Promotion.

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