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Szasz’s ‘Notebook’ Wins at Karlovy Vary Fest

Fest topper Karel Och pays tribute to youthful audience

The Czech Republic’s key annual film event, Karlovy Vary, honored Hungarian war drama “Le Grand Cahier” (The Notebook) with its top prize Saturday in a raucous closing gala, punctuated by a guttural shriek from Icelandic thesp Olafur Darri Olafsson, who expressed thanks for his actor prize for addiction story “XL” with a “happy dinosaur scream.”

The Crystal Globe for Janos Szasz’s Hungarian/German/Austrian/French co-prod was presented by a somewhat more serious Oliver Stone, who counseled emerging filmmakers to persist and overcome defeat because “the world is always in need of regeneration.”

Fest’s 48th edition seemed to take the advice to heart, screening 235 pics, including 23 world preems, with an increasingly indie flavor, plus the most compelling first and second films by directors from the former East bloc for north of 12,000 visitors.

Artistic director Karel Och said a key strength of the fest is its youthful, eager auds, who queue for nearly every film. “We’re incredibly lucky to have such an amazing audience, which enjoys being challenged,” he noted.

The search for new directions was evident in a growing crop of workshops and work-in-progress presentations aimed at fostering new work, plus a closely watched series of industry talks, including fest’s first-ever look at the impact of the TV biz, featuring both HBO and pubcaster Czech TV execs, both of which are aggressively developing series aimed at the big and small screen, and international distrib.

The latter underscored the point by screening an original laffer on aging Prague rockers, “Revival,” scoring the aud prize.

Jury chair Agnieszka Holland, a helmer behind some of the TV inspiration being feted, including three-parter “Burning Bush” about the Soviet-backed invasion of Prague, said local film auds “are watching the best cable television work from the U.S. and some from England and Scandinavia.” Besides being at times “fresher than the local cinema,” she added such fare is taking on “important social, political problems.”

Meanwhile European Film Promotion and Variety singled out 10 hot directors for non-traditional fest fare — also an aud hit.

The full list of the winners, can be found here: http://www.kviff.com/en/news/2530-48th-karlovy-vary-iff-awards/

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