Indie spirit marks Karlovy fest

U.S. masters provide '70s flavor to European showcase

Looking for ways to maintain its position as one of Europe's top-ranking movie showcases, the 42nd edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opens today with a focus on Hollywood's independent filmmakers and a new program screening the best from May's Festival de Cannes.

Considered one of the more relaxed and intimate movie gatherings on the European calendar, Karlovy Vary — hosted in the spa town of the same name 50 miles southwest of Prague — pays homage to the "new Hollywood" in a retrospective featuring the work of such directors as Monte Hellman, who will present his classic 1971 existential road movie "Two-Lane Blacktop," and Peter Bogdanovich, who will be in town with that year's "The Last Picture Show."

Cybill Shepherd, who made her movie debut in "Picture Show," also will be present for the retrospective.

The opening film, which screens today in the Thermal Hotel's Grand Hall, fits well with the spirit of 1970s "new Hollywood." Director Tom DiCillo's latest film, "Delirious," is a comedy featuring indie film icon Steve Buscemi and characters who reflect a 21st century zeitgeist — a homeless youngster, a pop star and paparazzo.

The festival's new program, Open Eyes, gives audiences the chance to see the best of the crop from this year's Cannes.

Fresh from winning Cannes' Palme d'Or, Romanian helmer Cristian Mungiu's abortion drama "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" is among the films chosen for the way in which they "advance the development of cinematic expression in an original way," Karlovy Vary's programmers said.

The festival boasts a traditionally strong feature competition lineup, with many world or international premieres, including France's "Conversations With My Gardener" from director Jean Becker, Hungary/Romania's "Dolina" from Zoltan Kamondi and Russia's "Simple Things" from Aleksei Popogrebsky, which took top prize at Russia's Kinotavr festival of national film.

Actor-director Danny DeVito, who will be at Karlovy Vary to help present Jake Paltrow's competition entry comedy "The Good Night," in which he co-stars, also will be honored with a Crystal Globe lifetime achievement award.

Jiri Bartoska said that DeVito has been a favorite with Central European audiences since appearing in Czech-born director Milos Forman's masterpiece "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

"He has continued over the decades to challenge himself as an actor and has achieved honors not only in that field but in directing and producing as well," Bartoska said.

The Karlovy Vary festival runs through July 7.