I’m going to the Czech Republic this week to visit the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, their 55th edition. I’m nervous, for a host of reasons. I haven’t flown this far since I was a teenager and I’ve become a much more nervous flier since then. Covid-19 still rages on, though the festival is taking every precaution—it feels nice to be in the hands of people who are serious about keeping everyone safe. But then … isn’t perhaps now the time to live boldly? To do things you wouldn’t ordinarily consider?
The film selection is mightily impressive, ranging from historic works by Němec, Edward Yang, and Michael Curtiz to exciting new films by the likes of Clio Barnard, Sergei Loznitsa, Radu Jude, and Anocha Suwichakornpong. I’ve already seen official selections like Tsai Ming-Liang’s gorgeous “Days,” an abstract erotic longeur from the living saint of slow cinema, and Jacqueline Lentzou’s “The End of Suffering,” her most percussive and brusque work to date, and those alone have me salivating to get my eyes on the rest of the slate.
There are plentiful awards being given this year, one, the President’s award, to Czech filmmaker Jan Svěrák, best known over here probably for “Kolya” and “Dark Blue World,” though he’s introducing his film “The Ride,” a previous award winner at KVIFF. Johnny Depp’s being honored, and Michael Caine will be presented with a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema. There will be a book launch at the fest for a volume about Czech luminary Věra Chytilová, director of “Daisies” and “Wolf’s Hole,” and one of the most talented and anarchic of the New Wave figures.
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