The 45th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (July 2-10, 2010) is over. Its long time director Jiri Bartoska declared it closed and invited us to its 46th edition, commencing on July 1, 2011. And yet again, for the fifteenth time since I first started attending this festival back in 1994, I was overwhelmed by nostalgia for its warm atmosphere, which makes you feel so much at home, and wish it never ends... If its spirit has to be defined in one word, it would be: human. Even its glamorous visitors — and they have had quite a few of those over the years as recipients of the prestigious Life Achievement Award, the most recent installments being John Malkovich (2009); Judd Law and Nikita Mikhalkov (2010) — become under its influence somehow more approachable, normal... In one word, human.
In addition to the Official Competition program, the festival featured also "East of the West"; Forum of Independents; Tributes to Juraj Herz, Karel Vachek and Michel Ciment; Open Eye, Variety's Critics' Choice, etc. Selected carefully by the artistic director, Eva Zaoralová, with the help of her programming team (headed by Julietta Sichel and Karel Och), these programs created the broad and well-informed context, indispensable for the fair evaluation of the twelve films in competition. Chosen from countries on three continents (North America, Asia, Europe), all of these works displayed solid professionalism and artistry. Nine of them focused on one main theme, which could be roughly defined as acute alienation, resulting in total communication breakdown, and was treated in either tragic, ironic, or even parodist mode.
The two Czech entries, 3 Seasons in Hell (3 sezony v pekle, by Tomás Masin), an adaptation of Egon Bondy's autobiography and shot in the currently fashionable among young Czech directors retro style; and Kooky (Kuky se vraci), a masterful CGI rendition of a charming story for children and adults, written and directed by the Oscar-winning Jan Sverak, played by his son and dubbed by his father, Zdenek — deviated from the main theme.
Our jury of critics unanimously selected Hitler in Hollywood by Belgian director Frédéric Sojcher. Yet another work which remained outside not only the main competition theme, but unique in its eclectic genre, mixing fun with seriousness; the reality of the French cinema of the 1930s with that of a skillfully put together ficticious plot of a Hollywood conspiracy against European cinema, the real-life personas of two French film stars. Micheline Presle from the 1930s and 40s, and Maria de Medeiros... We felt very strongly that the cinephile passion of Hitler in Hollywood deserved our full support for we believed that, to quote our motivation, "its ingenious mockumentary approach to the history and present of European cinema, threatened by Hollywood's ever-expanding domination" is extremely effective.
A more detailed discussion will be provoked in the upcoming write-ups of our colleagues. Rehka Deshpande's essay will focus on discrepancies between intentions and results. Jan Foll will focus on dysfunctional families. Eero Tammi will discuss Hitler in Hollywood. While Blagoja Kunovski will offer an overview of the competition program, I will try to summarize my views on certain tendencies in contemporary cinema as seen through the prism of the 45th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. (Christina Stojanova)
Karlovy Vary International Film Festival: www.kviff.com