‘Happy’ ending at Karlovy Vary

Danish crime pic tops film festival

Danish crime story “Terribly Happy” picked up the top prize at the Karlovy Vary fest, which wrapped Saturday.

Henrik Ruben Genz’s adaptation of a novel by Erling Jepsen about a cop exiled to the hinterlands, also earned a $30,000 cash that he’ll have to share with pic’s producer.

The special jury prize, including $20,000, went to Nan T. Achnas’ “The Photograph.” The helming prize went to Alexey Uchitel for “The Captive.”

But Czechs didn’t go empty handed as the two leads of “Night Owl,” Prague thesps Martha Issova and Jiri Madl, took the actor and actress kudos for the tale of misdirected lives in the city’s transforming Karlin district penned by journalist Irena Hejdova.

While some jurors said fest may be favoring geography over quality in its film entries, all were impressed with the global spread of pics in the running.

Thesp Christopher Lee, who picked up the presidents award, heaped praise on the fest held in a west Bohemian spa town filled with colonnades and — for nine days a year — hordes of backpacking film fans.

Karlovy Vary may not make waves in terms of industry impact, Lee told aud, but, the global breadth and variety of pics showed “this is a festival about the heart, the mind, the soul.”

Auds topped 9,000 and queued to see Danny Glover and Armin Mueller-Stahl, who joined Lee in receiving the president’s kudo, and the four recipients of Crystal Globes for contribution to world film: Robert De Niro, Czech émigré helmer Ivan Passer, Slovak thesp Dusan Hanak and Slovak helmer Juraj Jakubisko.

The 235 pics screened from 57 countries included several discoveries from Central and Eastern Europe, traditionally a strong focus for fest, including the Russian “Mermaid” a gritty fantasy by Anna Melikyan, which won the much-watched Forum of Independents sidebar.

Docu section winner “Man on Wire,” James Marsh’s account of the exploits of tightrope walker Philippe Petit, who secretly ran cable between New York’s World Trade Center towers in 1974 and ambled across, generated buzz all week and looks likely to go into arthouse distrib.

Earlier in the week, veteran indie helmer and scribe John Sayles praised the fest for its inclusiveness and confessed he was considering moving to Europe after witnessing so many low-budget filmmakers having their day in the sun.

And the winners are:

Film: Terribly Happy (Henrik Ruben Genz, Denmark)

Special jury prize: The Photograph (Nan T. Achnas, Indonesia, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden)

Director: Alexey Uchitel (Captive, Russia, Bulgaria)

Actress: Martha Issová (Night Owls, Czech Republic)

Actor: Jiri Mádl (Night Owls, Czech Republic)

Special mentions: The Karamazovs (Petr Zelenka, Czech Republic, Poland); The Investigator (Attila Gigor, Hungary, Sweden, Ireland)

Docu under 30 minutes: Lost World (Gyula Neme, Hungary, Finland)

Doc over 30 minutes: Man on Wire (James Marsh, United Kingdom)

Special mention: Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (Christopher Bell, USA)

East of the West film: Tulpan (Sergey Dvortsevoy, Kazakhstan, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Poland)

East of the West special mention: Seamstresses (Lyudmil Todorov, Bulgaria)

Audience prize: 12 (Nikita Michalkov, Russia)

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