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Karlovy Vary spotlights pioneers

Czech fest to showcase Fuller, Villeneuve, Greek New Wave

Czech audiences, while usually able to track down current arthouse fare, are generally deprived of intensive exposure to a filmmaker’s whole body of work — and almost never experience the pioneers of Hollywood indie filmmaking onscreen.

Karlovy Vary addresses both of those gaps this year with its tributes to Canadian auteur Denis Villeneuve, its roundup of Greece’s New Wave and its collection of Sam Fuller films ranging from 1951’s “The Steel Helmet” to 1982’s “White Dog.”

Fuller, says fest artistic director Karel Och, “was an indie filmmaker” decades before the term was coined — but his iconoclast status, self-written and often self-produced work, appropriately enough, inspired those who were later dubbed with the “i” word: Jean-Luc Godard, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino.

And film connoisseurs from well beyond the Czech borders are expected to fill theaters for the rare chance to catch 10 films by Fuller on the bigscreen spanning three decades including “Shock Corridor,” “Pickup on South Street” and “Naked Kiss.”

Denis Villeneuve (who drew a foreign-lingo Oscar nom for last year’s “Incendies”) is known to Karlovy Vary auds, who appreciated his dark sensibility, lush cinemato-graphy and storytelling chops at 2010’s screening of the Montreal mass murder saga “Polytechnique.” Pic returns, along with Villeneuve, who will present 2000’s “Maelstrom” and two shorts, including Cannes winner “Next Door” (2008).

Young Greek directors have been generating heat throughout the recent fest season and Karlovy Vary’s eight pics from this crop fit right into its provocative program with Athina Rachel Tsangari’s quirky coming-of-age pic “Attenberg,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ dysfunctional family tale “Dogtooth,” Panos Koutras’ gender-bending odyssey “Strella,” Alexis Alexiou’s psychological thriller “Tale 52” and Filippos Tsitos’ look at fluid nationalist boundaries, “Plato’s Academy.”

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