Czech-Slovak Film ‘Little Crusader’ Wins Top Prize at Karlovy Vary Film Festival

'Little Crusader' director-producer Vaclav Kadrnka with his father, who shares the same name and is a producer on the film

“Little Crusader,” a Czech-Slovak medieval quest film by Vaclav Kadrnka, won the Crystal Globe for best film at the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Central and Eastern Europe’s leading movie event, on Saturday. It is the first time in 15 years that a local film has won the top prize at the festival.

The film, starring Karel Roden, typifies the kind of emergent voices the fest relishes in discovering, made by a Czech emigre educated in the U.K. whose first film in 2011, “Eighty Letters,” examined daily life under communism.

Jeremy Renner, who was feted with the fest president’s prize during the gala closing at the 1970s-era Hotel Thermal, said “I love you” to fest prexy Jiri Bartoska, calling him “this bearded babushka” who keeps the seven-decade old event going. Bartoska, in exchange, held up Renner’s weighty crystal orb for him because Renner’s arms were both recently broken while filming a stunt. The actor presented “Wind River” at the fest, which took the audience prize.

“Men Don’t Cry,” a Bosnian film that takes on the emotional aftermath of the Balkan War, won a special jury prize, while Peter Bebjak won director honors for “The Line,” a Slovakia/Ukraine story of modern-day smugglers operating across their countries’ border.

Jowita Budnik and Eliane Umuhire were jointly awarded actress honors for their portrayals of women grappling with the Rwandan genocide in Joanna Kos-Krauze’s Polish film “Birds Are Singing in Kigali.” Alexander Yatsenko won the actor nod for his portrayal of a damaged ambulance driver in Russian film “Arrhythmia” by Boris Khlebnikov.

“Keep the Change,” a New York-set autism love story by Rachel Israel, won a special mention, prompting lead actor Brandon Polansky to say, “This goes out to all those teachers who told me I’d never amount to nothing.”

Russian crime story “How Viktor ‘the Garlic’ Took Alexey ‘the Stud’ to the Nursing Home” by Alexander Hant scored the East of the West prize, with Georgian film “Dede” taking the section’s special jury honors.

Docu honors went to a quirky Spanish account of an eccentric family, “Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle” by Gustavo Salmeron, while Bernhard Braunstein’s “Atelier de Conversation,” an Austria-France film about hidden meaning in language, won the docu jury prize.

Czech fairy-tale master Vaclav Vorlicek, whose decades of work is still cherished by Czechs, was honored with the fest president’s award for contribution to Czech cinematography.

52nd Karlovy Vary IFF
Grand prize
“Little Crusader,” dir: Vaclav Kadrnka

Audience prize
“Wind River,” dir: Taylor Sheridan

Special jury prize
“Men Don’t Cry,” dir: Alen Drljevic

Director
Peter Bebjak, “The Line”

Actress
Jowita Budnik and Eliane Umuhire, “Birds Are Singing in Kigali”

Actor
Alexander Yatsenko, “Arrhythmia”

Special mention
“Keep the Change,” dir: Rachel Israel
Voica Oltean, actress “Breaking News”

East of the West
“How Viktor ‘the Garlic’ Took Alexey ‘the Stud’ to the Nursing Home,” dir: Alexander Hant

Special jury mention
“Dede,” dir: Mariam Khatchvani

Documentary
“Lots of Kids, a Monkey and a Castle,” dir: Gustavo Salmeron

Jury prize
“Atelier de Conversation,” dir: Bernhard Braunstein

FIPRESCI prize
“Keep the Change,” dir: Rachel Israel

Ecumenical award
“The Cakemaker,” dir: Ofir Raul Graizer

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