Karlovy Vary cares about ‘Boys’

Fest offers slimmer slate, drops student films

PRAGUE — John Irvin’s “The Boys From County Clare” will open the 39th Karlovy Vary Film Festival on July 2.

Festival will offer a slightly slimmer version this year, with 230 films representing 42 countries and a modest reduction in expenditures. Event prexy Jiri Bartoska said the effect will be minimal, and the change stems in part from the unavailability of a portable cinema hall that ceased operating this year. Fest also has dropped its screenings of student films, a vibrant center of the event under former management.

Program director Eva Zaoralova told Daily Variety that Irvin’s pic is “an intelligent and pleasant film, and a good festival opening film. Last year we opened with the Czech competition film, but I think it’s better for the jury not to open with a competition film.”

Although the competition lineup will not be finalized until early June, Zaoralova confirmed the first two choices: “Champions” (Mistri), the debut film by Marek Najbrt that premiered at the Pilsen fest of Czech films in April, and Polish film “Symetria,” from Konrad Niewolski.

While fest promises to have a heavy Euro presence, early selections lean toward U.S. fare. That includes a tribute to John Cassavetes, marking 15 years since his death and what would have been his 75th birthday year. Seminal U.S. duo the Maysles brothers will receive a three-film salute within the popular Forum of Independents section.

Robert Altman’s “The Company” is paired with Carlos Saura’s “Salome” in a special section devoted to dance on film. Other U.S. helmers showing up in the Horizons best-of-fests mix are the Coen brothers with “The Ladykillers,” Richard Linklater with “Before Sunset” and Patty Jenkins with “Monster.”

However, Zaoralova said, “It’s only a coincidence. There’s still no U.S. film in competition yet.”

If there is any theme to the fest films, she added, “It’s relations between the generations of parents and sons, adults and adolescents.” Supporting that theme is the first announced documentary competition film, Theodora Remundova’s “No Regrets,” a portrait of three generations of women.

Other films already announced include Karlovy Vary regular Kim Ki-duk’s “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring” and Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education.”

Rounding out the Horizons section are “Daybreak” by Swedish helmer Bjorn Runge; Peter Webber’s “Girl With a Pearl Earring”; “Good Morning, Night,” from Italy’s Marco Bellocchio; Fatih Akin’s “Head On”; Thai helmer Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s “Last Life in the Universe”; Salvatore Mereu’s “The Three Step Dancing”; and “In Your Hands” by Danish director Annette K. Olesen.

Early selections for the Another View section are French/Israeli film “Avanim,” by Raphael Nadjari; Canadian Scott Smith’s “Falling Angels”; Mongolian/German fest fave “The Story of the Weeping Camel”; and “Wild Side,” by French director Sebastien Lifshitz.

East of the West, which spotlights films from former Soviet bloc countries, will include “Landscape,” by Sergey Loznitsa from Germany; “Mix” by Steven Long (Hungary); and “The Pharaoh” by Sinisa Dragin (Romania).

Southern Europe will receive special attention with a 10-film Turkish retrospective and a section on new Catalan cinema. Fest also will feature a tribute screening of Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America” and a selection of new Czech films.