U.S. Film 'Bob and the Trees' Nabs Top Prize at Karlovy Vary

Bob and the Trees
Courtesy of Sundance International Film Festival

Paolo Sorrentino's 'Youth,' starring Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine, grabbed the audience award.

The U.S. film Bob and the Trees, from director Diego Ongaro, grabbed the top jury prize at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival on Saturday's closing day.

Ongaro's debut feature, which stars Bob Tarasuk, Matt Gallagher and Polly MacIntyre, bowed in Sundance before earning the Grand Prix Crystal Globe prize at central Europe's largest film festival. Bob and the Trees, which still has no U.S distribution, portrays a 50-year-old logger (Tarasuk) in rural Massachusetts with a soft spot for golf and gangsta rap, while also struggling to make ends meet in a fast-changing economy.

U.S. director Sean Baker won the Forum of Independents competition prize for Tangerine, with film leads Alla Tumanian and Mickey O'Hagan in town to accept the trophy. The special jury prize went to Austrian director Peter Brunner for Those Who Fall Have Wings, while Kosovo director Visar Morina picked up the best director trophy for Babai.

Morina, who lives in Germany, saw his debut feature also pick up the best director and best screenplay prizes at the just-concluded Munich Film Festival. Czech talent dominated the acting prizes.

The best actress trophy went to Alena Mihulova for her star-turn in Czech director Slavek Horak's Home Care, while the best actor award went to Krystof Hadek for his lead role in another Czech film, Jan Prusinovsky's The Snake Brothers. Hollywood veteran Harvey Keitel accepted the audience award trophy for Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, an English-language drama about aging artists in which he stars alongside Michael Caine.

"I'm trying not to drop this one (trophy) on my foot," Keitel told the Karlovy Vary audience, a reference to a 2004 short film made after his last visit to to the Czech Republic festival in which he tells a Manhattan bartender he attended a small film festival in Europe and someone dropped his Crystal Globe trophy on his now bandaged foot.

The closing awards ceremony was followed by a screening of the Sundance title Sleeping with Other People, from director Leslye Headland. In all, Karlovy Vary screened 223 films since July 3, including 35 world premieres.

Saturday night's awards followed a parade of local and international stars walking the red carpet into the Thermal Theater. They included Keitel, wife Daphna Kastner and son Roman Keitel, veteran German cult film actor Udo Kier and Czech star Iva Janzurova, who made a tearful speech when receiving a tribute during the awards ceremony.

Keitel was the toast of Karlovy Vary in recent days, providing star wattage after Richard Gere received a Crystal Globe earlier in the festival for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema.