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Why Hollywood Stars Matter to Film Festivals Like Karlovy Vary

Festival president Jiri Bartoska with Willem Dafoe, who received a Crystal Globe at the opening ceremony

Karlovy Vary Chief on Why Hollywood
Courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

The Karlovy Vary Film Festival, which kicked off Friday, looks set to be another major success as local festgoers lineup for the popular Czech event, and Hollywood stars play a very important part in the popularity of these movie fiestas.

Last year, some 40,000 festgoers descended on the Bohemian spa town and fest organizers are bracing for similar crowds this year, in addition to some 550 filmmakers and 1,000 film professionals.

“We expect full cinemas, as usual,” said Karlovy Vary Film Festival artistic director Karel Och. “The traditional online reservations of 10% of the tickets five days before the festival proved the interest of the audience, for which we are grateful — 8,800 tickets booked in six minutes.”

The fest is set to get a dose of star wattage from the likes of Michael Shannon, Jamie Dornan, Willem Dafoe, Jean Reno and Toby Jones. “The star power and the glamour is a natural part of any A-category festival,” Och said. “It creates unforgettable moments for our audience, for our partners and for us as well.”

The fest is unveiling a new industry meeting place this year in collaboration with Barrandov Studio, the Film Industry Pool, located above the Thermal Pool. The new site will host an industry panel on July 4 co-sponsored by Barrandov Studio and Variety.

Other new developments include a new audience day. “2016 marks the first year we will screen a few awarded films on Sunday, July 10 — the day after the closing ceremony,” Och said.

In addition, KVIFF Distribution, a new joint initiative launched by the festival, local distrib Aerofilms and Czech TV, aims to reach cinema-lovers in other parts of the country with the nationwide release in July of three fest titles, Matt Ross’ “Captain Fantastic,” Gabriel Mascaro’s Brazilian drama “Neon Bull” and Bruno Dumont’s French comedy “Slack Bay.”

Karlovy Vary has also sharpened its focus this year on its traditional cinematic spheres: “The number of new films and projects coming from the territory we are known to be championing – Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe – is bigger this year in both the official selection and the industry program,” Och pointed out. The strong focus “confirms our status as an event that producers and sales companies from or in touch with our region seriously consider when thinking where to launch a film,” he added.

Among the fest’s latest initiatives are two new awards with a total value of €150,000 ($165,675).

While the Works in Progress @ KVIFF has been a sought-after platform for filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and the former Soviet Bloc nations since 2005, the event is this year unveiling a new award package sponsored by partners UPP, Soundsquare and Barrandov Studio that will help provide complete post production services for the winning film. The award includes picture postproduction at UPP valued at €60,000 and audio post at Soundsquare valued at €30,000 plus a cash award from Barrandov of €10,000.

Separately, the new €50,000 Eurimages Lab Project will be awarded to one of eight projects from Eurimages countries selected for the competition. The prize, Och said, “is focused on less traditional ways of the cinematic expression.”