The Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, Central and Eastern Europe’s leading movie event, unveiled the selection for its Official Selection, Retrospective, and industry programs Tuesday. This includes 27 world premieres, two international premieres and two European premieres spread across its two competitions sections and the Special Screenings program.
The festival, which runs Aug. 20-28, opens with “Zátopek,” David Ondříček’s drama about runner Emil Zátopek, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, who is widely regarded as the most popular athlete in Czech history.
The festival’s retrospective will be dedicated to the work of The Film Foundation, the movie restoration and preservation organization set up by Martin Scorsese in 1990, with the screening of 10 of the more than 900 movies it has restored.
The Eastern Promises Industry Days, which takes place online between July 28 and Aug. 12, has unveiled 29 film projects showcased across the program’s various strands.
CRYSTAL GLOBE COMPETITION
“Atlas ptáků” (Bird Atlas) Director: Olmo Omerzu (Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovak Republic) World premiere
An ageing proprietor of a technology company (Miroslav Donutil) has dedicated his whole life to his work, so it comes as a big blow when things suddenly start to fall apart at the seams. Omerzu’s film relies on persuasive character acting and his special brand of gentle irony to demonstrate that, in order to preserve our dignity, we occasionally need to lose face in the eyes of others.
“Boiling Point” Director: Philip Barantini (U.K.) World premiere
The shift has hardly begun for head chef Andy and he’s already behind with everything. His restaurant is overbooked, there’s a disgruntled inspector combing the kitchen and, if that weren’t enough, a culinary icon and a respected food critic have turned up for dinner. Via a single, continuous shot, we are launched into what proves to be a very hectic evening… Stephen Graham takes the lead role in a British film about anyone who’s ever been stressed out at work and got themselves into a stew.
“Ezmûn” (The Exam) Director: Shawkat Amin Korki (Germany, Iraq, Qatar) World premiere
If Rojin doesn’t pass the university entrance exam, she will have to go through with an arranged marriage. If she does get in, she will be free. This is the pronouncement of her father, the head of the family. Rojin’s older sister Shilan tries to help her as best she can, yet every well-meant action draws the young woman deeper into a web of deceit and lies. An absorbing drama and daring probe into the theme of a woman’s right to her own life.
“Guerres” (Wars) Director: Nicolas Roy (Canada) World premiere
When Emma turns 20, she decides to join the army. Not only does she want to follow in her father’s footsteps, but she also yearns to rid herself of an oppressive sense of existential emptiness. Although the army’s harsh discipline helps her break free, she slowly discovers that she cannot suppress all her emotions in this male society.
“Každá minuta života” (Every Single Minute) Director: Erika Hníková (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic) World premiere
The Hanuliaks, a couple from Slovakia, have decided to bring up their son according to Kamevéda, a complex approach to developing the child’s motor abilities and intellect. Unique in its depth of focus, this reflection on child-rearing documents a year in the life of four-year-old Miško, where not a minute is wasted since there is no room for boredom and moments of rest are merely preparation for the next achievement.
“Láska pod kapotou” (At Full Throttle) Director: Miro Remo (Czech Republic, Slovak Republic) World premiere
Fifty-something former miner Jaroslav has always dreamt of a career as a race car driver. In a congenial and jovial manner, he represents not only the charms and struggles (especially economic) of southeastern Moravia, but also the ever more visible chasm between city and countryside. A charismatic portrait of a man struggling with the traumas of the past who, with disarming directness, clings to the promise of good luck and a dignified life alongside a new partner.
“Nö” Director: Dietrich Brüggemann (Germany) World premiere
Isn’t the trajectory of a shared life determined in advance? Get married, have kids, be like everyone else… According to Dietrich Brüggemann, who competed in Vary six years ago, 30-somethings conceivably have it all, yet they fail in their attempts to achieve their set ideals. “Nö” delivers a critique of contemporary values, while also highlighting the struggle to find and nurture love.
“Le Prince” Director: Lisa Bierwirth (Germany) World premiere
Perhaps they should never have met, but fate wanted otherwise. Monika and Joseph. She is a curator, he is an immigrant from Congo, a businessman with an unclear past and present. They meet during a police raid at a bar, when the first of many sparks flies between them. An understated love story, a melodrama without pathos, a fragile story about the ambiguous nature of love and the impossibility of overcoming it through reason.
“Strahinja Banović” (As Far As I Can Walk) Director: Stefan Arsenijević (Serbia, France, Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Lithuania) World premiere
Strahinja and his wife Ababuo left Ghana with a dream of a better life in Europe. Instead of reaching the western part of the continent, they were deported back to Serbia. Strahinja has started to build himself a career, while Ababuo is unable to fulfil her ambitions and she feels increasingly frustrated. When she disappears one day, Strahinja sets out to find her… A story about the need to find one’s place in the world. It’s also a tale of love, the most profound testimony of which might also be the most painful.
“La terra dei figli” (The Land of the Sons) Director: Claudio Cupellini (Italy) International premiere
Civilization is coming to an end. The death of his only relative gives a feral boy the pretext to journey beyond the confines of his home environment; only by doing this will he be able to decipher his father’s journal, the most valuable artefact in his legacy. This contribution to the post-apocalyptic sci-fi genre tells of humanity in crisis, while at the same time conveying the adventurous spirit of adolescence.
“Zbornica” (The Staffroom) Director: Sonja Tarokić (Croatia) World premiere
Anamarija starts her job as a counsellor at a new school. Together with her, the viewers begin to appreciate what kind of people the staffroom teachers are, they witness the petty conflicts and also uncover the power games that go on behind the scenes. This self-assured debut from Sonja Tarokić about the individual’s struggle within the system and the sheer effort required to preserve one’s integrity also presents a complex study of an institution whose employees have taken on one of the most responsible roles an adult can have – to educate future generations.
“Zpráva o záchraně mrtvého” (Saving One Who Was Dead) Director: Václav Kadrnka
(Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, France) World premiere
After a serious stroke, the father goes into a coma. The mother (Zuzana Mauréry) and the son (Vojtěch Dyk) are suddenly confronted with a motionless body; the doctors do not give them much hope. Four years on from Karlovy Vary’s graceful ride “Little Crusader,” Kadrnka invites us on a spiritual journey to places man is seldom permitted to enter since, here, life huddles up tightly to death and only the resurrected can return.