Art Film Festival: Tips For Visitors to Kosice

Resurgent industrial city offers creature comforts to complement fest’s numerous screenings

Kosice Casablanca cafe Art FIlm Festival
Courtesy of Casablanca Cafe

Explore the City
A two-hour train trip from Budapest and an overnight ride from Prague, Kosice is the biggest city in eastern Slovakia, near Hungary’s border. Once a smoke-belching, Soviet-built ironworks center, it rapidly declined after the Velvet Revolution. But the city of 240,000 is reboundingwith new public spaces and converted old ones, including the hopping Tabacka, once a humming cigarette factory and now a restaurant and music venue. Most fest sights are concentrated in the historic center or easily reached by tram.

Savor a Meal
The historic, high-ceilinged Cafe Slavia is a surprisingly affordable brush with old European elegance, while Carpano, one of Kosice’s most venerated old-school dining rooms, serves Mitteleuropa classics and Camelot excels in “Westworld”-style medieval kitsch. Villa Regia is the rustic, Slovak home-style place to ply a producer with a classic plum brandy but clubby Maraton’s the place for tender beef and dumplings.

Raise a Glass
The quaint, atmospheric Cuba Libre Rum & Cigar House revives the old fraternal East Bloc relations with Fidel Castro, while Casablanca serves the small vintage cafe needs for an indie production meeting. For evening drinks there’s Jazz Club, a fave meeting point in the historic city center. It delivers just what the name suggests, amid modish decor retrofitted into an arched, coffeehouse space.

Catch a Special Screening
Kosice’s Amphitheater, once declared a Unesco Heritage site and capable of hosting 6,000 spectators (if half sit on the grass, as is common), is the place to catch classics in the open air, beer in hand, on a balmy June evening. A must-see is the doc “Ronaldo,” on the Portuguese soccer god Cristiano Ronaldo the same night as the big Slovakia-U.K. match June 20.

Salute the Honorees
Alan Parker, who will host a master class June 24, will receive the Golden Camera the following day, as will Stephen Daldry, who gets the prize June 18 and will conduct a master class that day — an event bound to fill fast. Serbian thriller actor Lazar Ristovski (“Casino Royale,” “November Man”) will take home the Actor’s Mission prize June 22, an honor he shares with Czech counterpart Karel Roden.

Poll the Jurors
Prizes at Art Film Fest are mulled this year by a panel comprising: Finnish actress Kati Outinen, known for her subtle roles in Aki Kaurismaki’s films; Venezuelan helmer-scribe Lorenzo Vigas; Slovak actress Vica Kerekes; screenwriter and dramatist Petr Kolecko; and Variety
executive editor Steven Gaydos.