Woody Harrelson, Agnieszka Holland and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among the industry figures headlining the 27th edition of the Prague International Film Festival, which is set to go ahead despite fears around the coronavirus.
Harrelson will appear alongside Oren Moverman, who is receiving a Kristián award for his contributions to global cinema, to present the L.A. cop drama “Rampart” in Prague. The duo were both nominated for Academy Awards for Moverman’s Iraqi war pic “The Messenger.”
Kore-eda, Slovak actor Milan Lasica and Czech actress Iva Janžurová will also be receiving lifetime achievement awards.
The festival unspools March 19-27 in the Czech capital, against a backdrop of growing uncertainty as the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival and Greece’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival announced they were postponing this year’s editions, while the Doha Film Institute’s Qumra event in Qatar was canceled. Concerns about the virus have led Amazon Studios and Facebook to pull out of SXSW, which begins March 13.
However, Prague festival director Kamil Spáčil said in a statement that “up to this moment there are no new restrictions in place as a result of the worldwide outbreak…as Czech Republic has not declared an outbreak and (the) situation is under control.”
The Czech government has banned flights from China and South Korea, while also announcing this weekend it was placing a two-week ban on flights from the Italian cities of Milan, Venice and Bologna, after the Czech Republic recorded its first three coronavirus cases on Sunday across people who had lived in or visited northern Italy. The government said the two-week stoppage could be extended.
Festival organizers said two guests have pulled out of this year’s event because of restrictions due to prior travel. However, they said the coronavirus concerns would not interrupt the festival or any of its related industry events.
The festival opens with Holland’s “Charlatan,” which recently bowed in Berlin, and closes with Kore-eda’s “The Truth,” starring Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke.
The seven films selected for the main competition are Ivan Ostrochovský’s “Servants,” Maria Sødahl’s “Hope,” Kantemir Balagov’s “Beanpole,” Mariusz Wilczyński’s “Kill It and Leave This Town,” Amjad Abu Alala’s “You Will Die at 20,” Pietro Marcello’s “Martin Eden,” and Alma Har’el’s “Honey Boy.”
The international jury is comprised of Czech actor and director Jiří Mádl, Hungarian director Ildikó Enyedi and Canadian director Denis Côté.
Among the highlights of the festival’s 27th edition, former Berlin chief Dieter Kosslick will present a Culinary Cinema section combining a series of films with a unique dining experience. Kosslick joined the Prague team as a programming consultant last year, in his first post since stepping down as head of the Berlinale. Also new this year is a competitive comedy section, which opens with the French film “All About Yves,” by director Benoît Forgeard.
The festival’s Industry Days program, which takes place March 23-25, features lectures, panel discussions and the first edition of Czech Works in Progress, which will present projects by domestic filmmakers that are in the production or post-production stage, organized in conjunction with the Czech Film Fund/Czech Film Center. The industry program will also highlight new projects from the female European filmmakers of Girls in Film.