Hungarian WWII Drama 'The Notebook' Wins at Karlovy Vary

"The Notebook"
"The Notebook"
 Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

KARLOVY VARY – The 48th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, one of the leading Eastern European film festivals, came to a close on Saturday.

The festival jury, presided over by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, awarded the top prize, the Grand Prix Crystal Globe ($25,000 award) to the Hungarian film The Notebook (Le Grand Cahier). The film is a grim and cathartic drama directed by Janos Szasz (The Witman Boys), about twins living through World War II on the farm of their cruel grandmother.  It is a Hungarian-German-Austrian-French co-production and features German actors Ulrich Mattes and Ulrich Thomsen in supporting roles. Thomsen earlier appeared in a lead role in Szasz’s film Opium: Diary of a Madwoman. The project had been gestating since 2006 and is the first film to be financed by Hungary’s new film funding body, the Hungarian National Film Fund.

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The Special Jury Prize ($15,000 award) went to the bizarre British black comedy A Field in England, set during the English Civil War (1642–1651). Directed by Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, Kill List), the film has multiple distribution platforms.  It was released simultaneously on U.K. cinema screens, DVD, VOD formats and the free-to-air channel Film4 on Friday, July 5 – the day after its world premiere at Karlovy Vary. Drafthouse has already secured U.S. theatrical rights for the film.

In an unusual move, the festival awarded the best actress award to four actresses in one film – Louisa Krause, Margo Martindale, Emily Meade and Amy Morton, who starred in the film Bluebird, a U.S.-Swedish co-production directed by Lance Edmands. The film also won the festival’s Ecumenical Jury Award.

The toast of the festival was Oliver Stone, who was on hand in the latter half to receive a Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema, and award that was also presented to John Travolta and Czech costume designer Theodor Pistek (Amadeus) in the festival’s first half. Stone made typical pronouncements blasting U.S. foreign policy during a press conference, conducted a master class and presented screenings of films that he had written and/or directed, such as Alexander, Scarface (directed by Brian DePalma), an open-air showing of Wall Street and the two episodes of the documentary series Untold History of the United States.  

Stone used his festival press conference as a soap box to pontificate about the United States’ global security state, calling Edward Snowden a hero.

 “The United States is the dominant power in the universe, with its eavesdropping abilities,” he said. “It's what they call in the Pentagon ‘full spectrum dominance.’ And the world is in danger with our tyranny.”

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Stone’s Alexander: The Ultimate Cut, the fourth and final version of his much-tinkered historical extrapolation, had its European premiere at Karlovy Vary, and will be released to DVD in North America in 2014.

Stone stammered searchingly during his acceptance speech and ultimately decided to turn his speech into a pep talk for the aspiring filmmakers, saying, “Some of you who are in this room will certainly make a contribution to the world.”

Find the list of winners below.

GRAND JURY

Agnieszka Holland, Poland (jury president)

Ivo Andrle, Czech Republic

Frederic Boyer, France

Alon Garbuz, Israel         

Claudia Llosa, Peru

Meenakshi Shedde, India

Sigurjon "Joni" Sighvatsson, Iceland

 

Other selected awards:

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD

Jan Hrebejk

Honeymoon

 

BEST ACTOR AWARD

Olafur Darri Olafsson

XL

 

EAST OF THE WEST AWARD ($20,000)

Floating Skyscrapers

Directed by Tomasz Wasilewski

 

AUDIENCE AWARD

Revival

Directed by Alice Nellis

 

INTERNATIONAL FILM CRITICS (FIPRESCI) AWARD

Shame

Directed by Yusup Razykov

 

THE ECUMENICAL JURY AWARD

Bluebird

Directed by Lance Edmands

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