Film/Video Czechs In

Mon, Jul 17, 2006

play from czech film fest
(an image from Alicia Scherson's "Play")

Film/Video Curator Dave Filipi reports on his recent visit to a festival in the Czech Republic:

This July, I made my fifth visit to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The city, a beautiful and historic spa town in the western portion of the Czech Republic, is the ideal setting for a festival. Beautiful architecture and vistas are everywhere and hundreds of Czech youths descend on the town during the festival, often sleeping in tents to save their crowns for film tickets and delicious Czech beer. Unlike past festivals, this year I was invited to sit on the jury of the Forum of Independents; a small program strand devoted to oft-overlooked independent cinema from around the world. I hesitate to say that sitting in a room watching movies all day is hard work, but when you're at the mercy of the festival for the films instead of your own tastes it can get a bit grueling during your fourth film before dinner time. The winning film in our category was Play (pictured), the first feature from Chilean director Alicia Scherson. The prize, a new digital movie camera, is sponsored by Czech Television. Also on the jury with me was Rui Pereira, director of the Lisbon International Independent Film Festival. He was a great guy and I wouldn't be surprised if a group of new Portuguese films made their way to the Wexner Center sometime in 2007 (and I make my way to Lisbon). The film I was dying to see at the festival was Jafar Panahi's latest, Offside (pictured, after jump). Shot during the World Cup qualifying match between Bahrain and Iran in late 2005,

czech film fest
(an image from Jafar Panahi's "Offside")

the film is about the frustration and humiliation faced by a group of passionate female soccer fans. In Iran, women typically are not allowed to attend men's soccer matches. The film is a wonderful film about sports fanaticism and the experience of women in a theocracy‚ all against the backdrop of a historic soccer match. Simply, it's a great, great film. Hopefully, we'll be screening it sometime in February 2007.

My lasting memory of each Karlovy Vary festival‚ aside from the fresh, delicious pivo‚ is the enthusiasm of the young people attending the festival. Each and every screening, whether it is a new Hollywood film or a deliberately-paced Polish documentary, is packed with (largely) Czech youth open to any film they are about to see. For a film programmer it's an invigorating environment in which to spend a week-and-a-half.

(images courtesy Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary)

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