Karlovy Vary Film Festival Launches New Talent Platform, Hosts Odesa Industry Screenings

The Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, whose 56th edition runs July 1-July 9, has expanded its activities aimed at supporting filmmakers, it announced Tuesday.

The festival is launching KVIFF Talents, a year-round program that aims to identify talented filmmakers and support the creation of projects with international potential and a high level of originality. As part of the program, selected filmmakers will receive financing for development, mentoring from experts, and the chance to present their projects to potential producers, partners and investors at the festival. The project’s pilot phase is open to submissions from the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Later, the project will be expanded to include all of Central and Eastern Europe.

“Promoting new talent has always been a central part of the festival’s activities. With KVIFF Talents, we are taking these activities to a new level. The program will be another important piece of the puzzle promoting greater originality, creative boldness, and international ambitions by filmmakers from our region,” KVIFF’s executive director Kryštof Mucha said.

The festival also announced that it will host the works-in-progress program of Ukraine’s Odesa Film Festival, which is unable to host the program because of the Russian invasion.

“Broad solidarity with war-afflicted Ukraine must also include support for the country’s cultural life, which at this moment has come almost to a halt. As a film festival, we have tried to find ways of supporting Ukrainian cinema, and we are glad that we have managed to work with the Odesa film festival to find a meaningful form of cooperation,” Hugo Rosák, head of KVIFF’s industry department, said.

“The war has a direct impact on the film industry, so we will hold the Odesa Intl. Film Festival’s industry screenings as part of the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival. We are honored to have this opportunity to show Ukrainian cinema, talent and culture to the world,” Anna Machuh, general director of OIFF, said.

The festival also revealed that KVIFF President’s Award for outstanding figures in Czech cinema will go to actor, playwright, screenwriter and director Boleslav Polívka.

Polívka first came to audiences’ attention as a theater actor and co-founder of Brno’s Goose on a String theater. In 1993, he founded the Bolek Polívka Theatre, and he continues to perform in theaters to this day.

Polívka also left a mark on Czech cinema. His roles include the portrayal of a priest in “Forgotten Light” in 1996, which earned him a Czech Lion for best actor, and the same award at Karlovy Vary. He also took home a Czech Lion for best actor for “Divided We Fall” in 2000, which was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film.

Polívka has been an important collaborator of director Věra Chytilová, which began with “Calamity” in 1981, and expanded to include five films.

As an homage to Polívka, the festival will screen “Forgotten Light.”

Jonatan Kuna and Zuzana Lednická’s design for the poster Courtesy of KVIFF

The festival is continuing its tradition of premiering digitally restored versions of classic Czech films. This year, it will be showing another important example of the Czechoslovak New Wave, director Jaromil Jireš’s 1968 adaptation of Milan Kundera’s novel “The Joke.”

It is the darkly grotesque story of how, in an atmosphere of absolute intolerance, spying, and denunciations, an innocent student prank can ruin a life.

Kundera published his novel in 1967 and worked closely with Jireš on writing its screen adaptation. The film, which premiered in early 1969, was awarded the Silver Siren at a screening of Czech and Slovak films in Sorrento, Italy, and also took home an award from the 17th San Sebastián Film Festival.

The digital restoration was organized by Karlovy Vary in collaboration with the National Film Archive and the State Fund for Cinema. The digital restoration process was performed in 2022 at UPP and Soundsquare using original sound and film negatives stored at the National Film Archive. It is the 23rd film whose restoration was made possible thanks to a donation from Milada and Eduard Kučera.

The visuals for the 56th festival have been unveiled. They are designed by Jonatan Kuna and Zuzana Lednická of Studio Najbrt, whose collaboration with KVIFF started in 1995.

“This year’s festival poster is not only a black-and-white but also a color illustration and celebration of the things we experience together every year at the beginning of July along Karlovy Vary’s colonnade between the Thermal and Pupp hotels. You can find your own Wally – and many other figures associated with the festival’s history,” the designers said in a statement.