Bulgarian-Greek Road Comedy ‘The Father’ Wins at Karlovy Vary

Family angst and off-the-wall humor dominated the 54th Karlovy Vary film fest prize race, with Bulgarian-Greek road comedy “The Father” scoring the Crystal Globe Saturday eve in a gala closing ceremony at the Hotel Thermal.

The story of a long-suffering photographer trying to manage his father’s increasingly unhinged behavior in the wake of his wife’s death, the film is the fourth team project by writer-directors Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov.

The jury also honored German psychological family drama “Lara” by Jan-Ole Gerster, which follows a protective mother’s frustrations as her aloof son faces an upcoming piano recital. Lead actress Corinna Harfouch took the actress prize for her tortured turn in the film. Gerster, saying the film was about “a very passionate person,” credited his team for sharing the same passion.

Tim Mielants won the director prize for “Patrick,” his study of hammer obsession by a socially challenged maintenance man for a Belgian nudist camp, while Milan Ondrik won the actor prize for Slovak-Czech family drama “Let There Be Light,” the story of a father’s fight to save his son from indoctrination into a violent far-right vigilante youth group.

The Crystal Globe jury honored Spanish street-set love story “The August Virgin” by director Jonas Trueba with a special mention and actress Antonia Giesen for her brooding role in Chilean-Argentine road movie “The Man of the Future.”


The fest’s East of the West prize, in a section honoring narrative film from the former East bloc and the Middle East, went to Russia’s “The Bull,” a youth crime story by writer-director Boris Akopov.

“My Thoughts Are Silent,” a Ukrainian picaresque following a sound recordist through the countryside by writer-director Antonio Lukich and co-written by Valeria Kalchenko, took the East of the West special jury prize.

The documentary Crystal Globe went to Estonian-Latvian “Immortal” by Ksenia Okhapkina, a look at youth political indoctrination in a formerly communist industrial city, while China’s “Confucian Dream,” the story of a mother going against the tide to teach her child moral guidance, by Mijie Li, won the doc special jury prize.

The Karlovy Vary viewers, made up of thousands of Czech students mixing with film fans and regional professionals, voted for Olga Sommerova’s doc “Jiri Suchy – Tackling Life with Ease” as its audience prize fave. The chronicle of the influential musician-artist-writer and his prolific work in theater warmed hearts as crowds waited in long queues, sometimes in tropical heat, to get into ornate, historic cinema halls in the quaint spa town.

The final night audience also cheered the appearance of Patricia Clarkson, who said she was so enamored with Karlovy Vary she “might just send for my dog and stay” on after receiving her Crystal Globe for contribution to world cinema. Czech cinematographer Vladimir Smutny (“Good Light,” “Kolya,” “The Painted Bird”), also honored for his decades of lensing with the festival president’s award, said he belonged on the other side of the camera after briefly taking the stage but is widely admired for his innovation and style.

Crystal Globe
“The Father,” directors: Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov
(Bulgaria, Greece)

Jury prize
“Lara,” director” Jan-Ole Gerster (Germany)

Tim Mielants, “Patrick” (Belgium)

Corinna Harfouch, “Lara” (Germany)

Milan Ondrik, “Let There Be Light” (Slovakia, Czech Republic)

Special jury mentions
“The August Virgin,” director: Jonas Trueba (Spain)

Antonia Giesen, “The Man of the Future” (Chile, Argentina)

East of the West
“The Bull,” director: Boris Akopov (Russia)

Special jury prize
“My Thoughts Are Silent,” director: Antonio Lukich (Ukraine)

“Immortal,” director: Ksenia Okhapkina (Estonia, Latvia)

Special jury prize
“Confucian Dream,” director: Mijie Li (China)

Pravo audience award
“Jiri Suchy, Tackling Life with Ease,” director: Olga Sommerova (Czech Republic)

“The August Virgin”

Ecumenical jury prize

Jury commendation
“Let There Be Light”

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