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KARLOVY VARY – The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicked off Friday with a gala screening of L’Ecume des jours (Mood Indigo).
Co-star Audrey Tautou had to pull out of the red carpet event, but Oscar-winning director Michel Gondry raised the star wattage as Central Europe’s biggest film festival got underway, just before John Travolta arrives in the Bohemian spa town to introduce Mark Steven Johnson’s Killing Season.
Killing Season is perfect for Karlovy Vary as the picture sees Travolta and co-star Robert De Niro play veterans of the Bosnian war looking to settle scores after they fought on opposite sides of the conflict.
And once Travolta receives the prestigious Crystal Globe lifetime achievement award, Karlovy Vary will get down to the serious business of spotting emerging cinematic talent, especially from Eastern Europe.
“We offer a thought-provoking opportunity for our audience to compare the work of young filmmakers from different parts of the world, meaning young auteurs from our territory with first- and second-time filmmakers from Western Europe, North America or Asia,” festival artistic director Karel Och told The Hollywood Reporter.
Karlovy Vary’s growing visibility comes as it acts as a launching pad for debut features — including American director Lance Edmands’ Bluebird, which is screening in competition — while continuing to focus on Hollywood fare this year with Steven Soderbergh’s Behind the Candelabra, David Mamet’s Phil Spector and Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha.
Karlovy Vary also has regional distributors testing the audience’s reaction to new releases and discovering titles for possibly acquisition.
“As a matter of fact,” says Ochs, “We programmers often recommend titles to our distributors to consider for the national release, as we travel a lot covering all significant events and screenings.”
Karlovy Vary launching as the Czech summer holidays start should help fill theaters this week.
The festival runs through July 7.
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