I’m just back from the fantastic Karlovy Vary Film Festival. It was my first trip there, and I had a great time, saw some great films, met incredible people and learned a lot. Karlovy Vary is a beautiful spa town in the Czech Republic, about a two hour drive from Prague. The KVIFF is one of the oldest film festivals around (at 46 years), but its spirit is very young.
Literally. It was amazing to see thousands of young Czech and Eastern European film-lovers in line for each of the films. People love their cinema in the Czech Republic, and rumor has it that in addition to filling up the hotels, people fill up campgrounds all around the area, spending the week watching arthouse films. Theaters were packed for every show, no matter how obscure, and audiences were enthusiastic in their appreciation.
While the festival is not the marketplace of a Cannes or Berlin, it wasn’t short on industry attendance either. Buyers, sellers, directors, programmers and critics were in abundance, and while many would admit they weren’t swamped with business, that was the charm – having an opportunity to watch great films with great audiences, and to linger a little longer at each meeting and really get to know people better.
I was there to speak at a masterclass on “The Future of Film” with Ted Hope. We tried to change the format a bit, and make it more participatory by posting our thoughts in advance and by encouraging feedback in the comments before the panel, and to encourage more input from the audience. We didn’t fully succeed - Ted and I didn’t shut-up enough to really make it an open dialogue with the audience - but we did get great feedback and commentary from the audience.
We received one excellent email from Brendan Fletcher, the director of Mad Bastards, playing at KVIFF and in theaters and on VOD now, and we asked him to post it to the comments, which he did. I recommend reading that and the other comments, and I hope you’ll add your comments as well over at Ted’s blog. KVIFF Industry Head, Andrea Szczukova told us, and Screen International, that the panel “was such a success this year that there could be more sessions in 2012 devoted to ideas about the film industry’s changing future.” We hope so, and we hope to continue the dialogue between now and then.
I was also lucky to see some great films, especially my co-panelist’s film (Ted produced it) Collaborator, by Martin Donovan. Like most film buffs of my age, I’ve been a fan of Martin Donovan since the Hal Hartley days, and was excited to see his feature directing debut. He did an excellent job, both as a director and lead in the film. David Morse stars as well, in an outstanding role that won him best actor honors at the festival, and the film also won the Fipresci Critics award, which is quite an honor. I highly recommend the film.
I also highly recommend visiting the festival next year. The Karlovy Vary Film Fest is a blast.