The ongoing 57th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is captivating audiences with its vibrant performances, diverse film selection, and inclusive atmosphere. This prestigious event, which began on June 30th and will continue until July 8th, offers a wide range of films that cater to a diversity of tastes.
Despite the rain, the Opening Gala thrilled the audience with dazzling ice-skating performances. The festival officially began with Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s President Jiří Bartoška’s proclamation: “Let’s enjoy the cinematic celebration together!” He honored celebrity guests Russell Crowe and Alicia Vikander for their contributions to the film industry. Vikander gratefully expressed her excitement about her role in the festival’s opening film Firebrand, while Crowe received a lifetime achievement award and commended the festival’s efficient organization.
Each year KVIFF presents approximately 200 films from around the globe. Heading the Crystal Globe competition this year will be a distinguished panel of judges under Patricia Clarkson, renowned for her leading role in television’s Sharp Objects.
This year, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, known for its commitment to artistic freedom and expression, features only 11 films in competition instead of the usual 12, since a movie from China has been banned by the government from participating. On the positive side, the festival celebrates independent Iranian cinema as part of its programming: nine unique and personal films will express the spirit of Iran’s young cinema. In addition, the 57th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival pays tribute to Japanese filmmaker Yasuzo Masumura through a unique program that showcases his works.
The band Morcheeba and Crowe’s band Indoor Garden Party treated attendees to electrifying performances. These concerts delighted the massive crowds who flocked from across the Czech Republic, showing their resilience against the challenges posed by COVID-19 lockdowns.
The festival unveiled a promotional trailer featuring renowned actor Johnny Depp in keeping with its tradition. The trailer premiered at the festival’s opening ceremony, offering a playful take on the Crystal Globe award. In the clip, Depp, who has previously attended the festival as a special guest, gives a comic address about not receiving an award.
The next day Russell Crowe personally introduced his film Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World. This epic tale is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and features Crowe’s unforgettable portrayal of Captain Jack Aubrey. Amidst a press conference, Crowe voiced his dissatisfaction about fielding incessant inquiries about Gladiator 2, a sequel he is not involved in. Nevertheless, he spoke confidently about director Ridley Scott’s impeccable storytelling skills and cited them as valid reasons for revisiting this storyline after more than two decades have passed.
Later that day, Ewan McGregor, an acclaimed Scottish actor and a Golden Globe winner, received the President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement, saying to the audience, “Thank you so much for being here tonight. And it means just the world to me. I believe so much in what we do as actors. I’m so fortunate to do what I love and love what I do.”
He then introduced his new film You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder, in which he appears alongside his daughter Clara. The honoree described acting with his daughter as a highlight of his career to date. During the press conference he also provided an update on the mustache he is currently sporting for his role in the Paramount+ miniseries A Gentleman in Moscow. The series, based on a novel by Amor Towles, follows McGregor’s character, a nobleman held captive in a hotel room after the Russian Revolution. McGregor explained that his mustache has changed during the course of the filming, with his character initially having sported a big, curly one. He humorously concluded, “You are seeing the better side of it.”
Later in the festival Robin Wright and Christine Vachon will also receive awards.
Studio Najbrt has carefully crafted the visual design of the festival. It has incorporated experimental and dynamic elements that added a unique aesthetic to the event. Most notably, colored lines have been used in branding to represent the number 57.
Along with seeing works by renowned filmmakers and promising new talents, visitors can also anticipate retrospectives and specialized sections as part of its regular programming. Except for retrospectives and current Czech films, all screenings will debut in the Czech Republic, with many boasting world, international, or European premieres in Karlovy Vary. The Proxima and main competition offers an array of diverse films worldwide. Once again, Karlovy Vary has proved itself an enchanting destination for film enthusiasts from around the world.