Karlovy Vary lineup on a quest for love

230 films skedded for the fest

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The Karlovy Vary Film Festival will highlight emerging directors making striking statements about the struggle for meaning and love, organizers said Tuesday, rolling out the list of 15 films competing for the Crystal Globe.

With 230 films, including 14 world preems and 39 European preems skedded for the fest, which takes over the sleepy West Bohemian spa town of Karlovy Vary for nine days, even more fans will be joining the usual pilgrimage to the cinemas of the communist-era Hotel Thermal.

The focus is far from star vehicles, said fest’s Julieta Zacharova, calling the entrants “very strong filmmakers with very strong stories,” many of which tend to turn on family relationships and “characters in search of happiness.”

Juried by the likes of Czech actor Karel Roden, New York’s MoMA curator Laurence Kurdish and Steven Soderbergh scribe Coleman Hough (“Full Frontal” and “Bubble”), the films seem in sync with an increasingly progressive agenda at the 41st Karlovy Vary.

Fest artistic director Eva Zaoralova said the collection “should represent the countries,” adding the films provide auds with a rare chance to see work otherwise nearly impossible to find in Central Europe.

Among the competition films generating buzz are the Czech Republic’s “Beauty in Trouble,” a noirish love triangle penned by helmer Jan Hrebejk’s longtime scribe Petr Jarchovsky; “Love Talk,” set in a dream-like Los Angeles by Korean helmer Lee Yoon-Ki; “Destiny,” Argentinean helmer Miguel Pereira’s tale about a fugitive adopting a new identity; and “Transit,” a Russian WWII flier tale by Alexander Rogozhkin.

The docu competition looks equally diverse, with nine entries in the over-30-minutes category with subjects ranging from Brazilian cattle callers to the siege of Leningrad, via Slovak Carpathian minorities.

The under-30-minute group, with 10 docs, explore Sufism in Pakistan, house selling in the shadow of Prague Castle and the 90-year-old Spanish expressionist Uwe Grumman.

Fest’s guest list includes Matthew Barney, screening his art cycle “Cremaster”; Luc Besson, presenting “Angel-A”; and Terry Gilliam, unspooling “Tideland.”

South Korea’s Kim Ki-duk, a perennial fest fave, will open the event June 30 with the preem of his noncompeting film “Time,” setting the tone for another preem, Brazilian Andrucha Waddington’s “House of Sand.”

The new Crystal Globe category East of the West, featuring films from the former East Bloc, preems Milena Andonova’s Bulgarian film “Monkeys in Winter” and “Tomorrow Morning” by Oleg Novkovic of Serbia-Montenegro.

As usual, 10 of Europe’s most distinctive talents will get exposure in the Variety Critics’ Choice: Europe Now! sidebar, including helmer Steen Agro and his Czech/U.K. comic caper film “Shut Up and Shoot Me.”

Six debuts unspool in this section, co-sponsored by European Film Promotion and the European Union’s Media program, all intended to nurture promising talent.

2006 Karlovy Vary Lineup:

Crystal Globe contenders:
Destiny, Miguel Pereira, Argentina
This Girl is Mine, Virginie Wagon, France
Beauty in Trouble, Jan Hrebejk, Czech Republic
Love Talk, Lee Yoon-Ki, South Korea
Mezcal, Ignacio Ortiz, Mexico
Mouth to Mouth, Bjorn Runge, Sweden/Denmark
Christmas Tree Upside Down, Ivan Cherkelov and Vassil
Zhivkov, Bulgaria
Several People, Little Time, Andrzej Baranski, Poland
Transit, Alexander Rogozhkin, Russia
Reprise, Joachim Trier, Norway
Goodbye Life, Ensieh Shah-Hosseini, Iran
Sherrybaby, Laurie Collyer, U.S.
Frozen City, Aku Louhimies, Finland
My Quick Way Out, Miguel Albaladejo, Spain
Winter Journey, Hans Steinbichler, Germany

Variety Critics’ Choice: Europe Now! 2006:
Baba’s Cars by Rafael Edholm, Sweden, second film
Evil by Yorgos Noussias, Greece, first film
FC Venus by Joona Tena, Finland, first film
Fresh Air by Ágnes Kocsis, Hungary, first film
Hotel Harabati by Brice Cauvin, France, first film
I Am by Dorota Kedzierzawska, Poland, fourth film
Isolated by David Marqués, Spain, second film
KussKuss -Your Happiness Depends on Me by Sören Senn, Germany/Switzerland, first film
Schnitzel Paradise by Martin Koolhoven, Netherlands, fourth film
Shut Up and Shoot Me by Steen Agro, Czech Republic/U.K., first film

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