MacGraw discusses Peckinpah in panel

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic — The Karlovy Vary fest celebrated the list of promising directors from Central and Eastern Europe with rock ‘n’ roll and packed screenings.

Fest sidebar, Variety Critics’ Choice, presented the little-known helmers, monikered “Ten to Watch,” in cooperation with European Film Promotion at a party Monday night attended by helmer Michael Radford and thesp Ali MacGraw, who are both on the Karlovy Vary jury, and helmer Alexander Payne, here to present “Sideways.”

Elsewhere at the fest, MacGraw, speaking at a Tuesday panel focused on the late Sam Peckinpah, recounted tales of harrowing shoots with the turbulent directorial force behind “Straw Dogs,” “The Getaway,” and “The Wild Bunch.”

Meanwhile, helmer Atom Egoyan, presenting “Where the Truth Lies,” said he was “almost in tears” watching Karlovy Vary’s youthful auds crowding into screenings of films unknown to this part of Europe. “You don’t normally get to see your films watched by the new generation,” he said.

Fest concludes Saturday with awards for film, director, actor, actress and docus, plus this year’s new official competition category, East of the West, celebrating work from the former Soviet bloc.

Sony Classics buyer Neil Friedman said that while he hasn’t yet picked up any titles, fest films are “growing in quality.”

Films like the Critics’ Choice honoree “A Little Piece of Heaven” display what Friedman called Czech film’s growing “humor, intellect and sophistication.”

Here is Variety Critics’ Choice “Ten to Watch” (actually 11 because two worked on one film):

Max Kestner, Denmark, for “Blue Collar White Christmas”

Vicente Penarrocha, Spain, for “Body Confusion”

Dennis Iliadis, Greece, for “Hardcore”

Sara Johnsen, Norway, “Kissed by Winter”

Petr Nikolaev, Czech Republic, “A Little Piece of Heaven”

Jorn Hintzer and Jakob Hufner, Germany, “Measures to Better the World”

Jason Ford, U.K., “New Town Original”

Wolfgang Murnberger, Austria, “Silentium”

Vinko Moderndorfer, Slovenia, “Suburbs”

Bouli Lanners, Belgium, “Ultranova”

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