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Paolo Genovese’s “Superheroes” will be the opening film of the 56th Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival on July 1, while George Miller’s “Three Thousand Years of Longing” will close the festival on July 9.

“Superheroes” is a romantic film that briefly introduces us to the carousel of joys and fears of a couple brought together by chance. Or was it fate? Comic book illustrator Anna and theoretical physicist Marco are a pair of congenial superheroes who, like so many other people, have decided to live together. After all, dealing with shared problems sometimes requires truly superhuman strength. Every relationship has its crises and its idyllic moments – from a random encounter in the rain to serious conversations a decade later.

The film’s structure presents the history of their relationship by following two timelines: the very beginning and 10 years later. The carefully constructed episodes systematically take aim at viewers’ hearts and minds.

In “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” professor of narratology Alithea Binnie (Tilda Swinton) arrives in Istanbul to give a lecture at a conference. But she slowly begins to question her identity as a rational academic when an antique lamp that she bought at a bazaar releases a Djinn (Idris Elba) who, in the fashion of oriental fairy tales, offers her three wishes.

Miller followed up the adrenaline-laden, post-apocalyptic ride of “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) with this eccentric fantasy featuring two stellar leads. “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” which premiered at Cannes, is a timeless story of love that, like “One Thousand and One Nights,” reflects the joy of storytelling.

This year’s Karlovy Vary will welcome American actor, screenwriter and director Liev Schreiber 18 years after his last appearance.

In 2004, Schreiber was in town along with actor Elijah Wood to introduce the Czech-filmed “Everything Is Illuminated” (2005). This adaptation of Jonathan Safran Foer’s story of a young American looking for his roots in Ukraine was Schreiber’s directorial debut. In 2005, the film won the Laterna Magica Prize and a Biografilm Award at the Venice Film Festival.

Schreiber felt an affinity for the subject of Foer’s book because his mother has roots in Ukraine’s Jewish community. With a film and television career dating back to the mid-nineties, Schreiber’s filmography includes dozens of roles in popular Hollywood movies across a variety of genres: the romantic comedy “Kate & Leopold” (2001), the action film “The Sum of All Fears” (2002), the science fiction movie “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” (2009), the mystery-drama “The Manchurian Candidate” (2004), two sports biopics – “Pawn Sacrifice” (2014) and “The Real Rocky Balboa” (2016) – and last year’s Netflix hit “Don’t Look Up” (2021).

Schreiber received five Golden Globe and three Primetime Emmy nominations for the title role in the television series “Ray Donovan.” This year, the seven-season series came to a close with the film “Ray Donovan: The Movie” (2022), which he co-wrote and executive produced.

Karlovy Vary will also pay tribute to Jérôme Paillard, the long-time executive director of Cannes’ Marché du Film. Paillard joined the Marché in 1995 and significantly expanded its global scale. He is the founder of the Cinando.com database and Ventana Sur, the most important market for film content in Latin America, which he runs with Bernard Bergeret.

A few weeks ago, Paillard stepped down as a director of Marché du Film after 27 years.

At the Karlovy Vary festival, a 1993 film “The Flood” produced by Paillard will be screened as a part of the tribute. Paillard will introduce the film in person.

“Moonage Daydream,” “War Pony” and “Close” have been added to the festival’s program.

Over the course of several decades, David Bowie amassed some five million diverse pieces of audiovisual material relating to his artistic career. It took director Brett Morgen (“The Kid Stays in the Picture,” “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck”) two years to go through it all. He then spent another year coming up with the conception for his film, “Moonage Daydream,” and five years creating the sound design for this highly unconventional look at the career of an original musician. Morgen’s testament to Bowie is as elusive and captivating as the artist himself.

The jury at this year’s Cannes Film Festival decided to give the award for best debut film to “War Pony,” directed by Riley Keough and Gina Gammell. It is a convincing look at the life of today’s members of the Oglala Lakota subtribe of the Sioux nation. The directorial duo guides the viewer through two interconnected storylines set in the inhospitable reality of the Pine Ridge Reservation. While the enterprising twentysomething Bill has no trouble stretching the law on his journey towards the “American Dream,” preteen Matho is forced to grow up fast. An evocative film about the search for one’s place in a world in which the descendants of America’s first people still cannot shake the stigma of discrimination.

In Lukas Dhont’s “Close,” 13-year-old Rémi and Léo are inseparable friends. They spend all their free time together, fight imaginary battles, try to outdo each other on their bikes in the fields, and sleep overs at each other’s houses. Their intense friendship also involves an unusual physical closeness, which after the summer break becomes the target of sneering remarks from their adolescent classmates, the poisonous tone of which slowly begins to erode their friendship.

This intimately tender and oppressively painful film about growing up is built around the immensely powerful debut performances by Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele.

Dhont’s film was considered by many to be the emotional pinnacle of this year’s festival in Cannes, where it earned the Grand Prix (ex aequo).

Sometimes the story that led to a film being made is as important as the film itself. The director of “Level 34,” 16-year-old Zach Breder from the U.S. state of Georgia, has managed to fulfil a life’s dream at a young age – to write and direct a movie. This in and of itself is an extraordinary feat. But when we add one inexorable fact of Breder’s life – the fact that he has a serious heart conditions that means he must make every day count – we understand why he refused to wait to realize his dream.

Breder was born with Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, which means that he was born without a right ventricle, for which there is no cure. By age 16, he had undergone more than 10 operations thanks to which he is still alive. The cardiologist who has been treating Zach and who knows all his dreams, including his dream of being a filmmaker, found a way for Breder to make his film a reality – thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which provided financial support for the film’s realization. When Trilith Studios came on board as producer, nothing stood in the way of the film’s creation.

The film crew were students from a local film school, and post-production was done by the Czech Republic’s UPP company. In the beginning there was a dream; at the end is an international premiere at the Karlovy Vary festival.

“Level 34” is the adventure-filled tale of a young boy who gathers all his courage in order to prove that his uncle is not the crazy drunk everybody says he is.

Karlovy Vary is showing “Level 34” as part of its People Next Door Section. Breder is traveling to the festival with his mother in order to introduce the film.

In Alan Hicks’ “My Sister Liv,” eight-year-old Tess learns that her mother is pregnant. She is not excited at the prospect of a sibling. But when little Liv is born with the same fiery red hair as her older sister, an unbreakable bond is formed that, sadly, is torn apart too soon. Liv grows into a young woman full of energy and with incredible musical talent, but even as a child she suffers from anxiety and depression until she is driven to a radical solution. Tess is left with a void in her life that she decides to fill by working with teenagers who have the same difficulties as Liv did. Hicks has shot a touching and important documentary about pain transformed into hope.