Karlovy Vary Film Festival Unveils Lineup

Khibula_Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

The fest, a key meeting place for the Eastern and Central European industry, said earlier it would honor Casey Affleck and Ken Loach at its 52nd edition.

Acclaimed Georgian filmmaker George Ovashvili returns to the Karlovy Vary Film Festival next month with Khibula, a story inspired by the life of the first, and ill-fated, president of the newly independent former Soviet state in the early 1990s.

Ovashvili, who won the Czech festival’s Crystal Globe for Corn Island in 2014, will be competing against other former Karlovy Vary laureates, including Russian director Boris Khlebnikov’s film of the breakdown of a marriage between two medics, Arrhythmia, and Rwandan genocide-themed film Birds Are Singing in Kagali, the last film of late Polish director Krzysztof Krauze, which was completed by his wife and co-director Joanna Kos-Krauze after he died.

Khlebnikov has been in Karlovy Vary's "East of the West" sidebar — which showcases projects from Central and Eastern European directors, concentrating on first films — twice before with Koktebel (directed with Alexei Popogrebsky) in 2003 and Free Floating in 2006. Krauze and Kos-Krause won a Crystal Globe in 2004 for My Nikifor.

The festival, which unveiled its lineup Tuesday, has a reputation as a meeting place for Eastern and Central European industry people and for discovering new talent. Over the years, it has attracted top Hollywood guests, including Mel Gibson, Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, John Travolta and Helen Mirren.

This year, Casey Affleck will get an honor there. The fest will also honor British director Ken Loach and his longtime screenwriting partner Paul Laverty.

Announcing the lineup in Prague on Tuesday, Karel Och, the festival's artistic director, said, "This year’s competition lineup will satisfy those who are looking for new exciting talents coming from the region that the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is known to represent." He added: "Radical, yet mature and complex debuts are accompanied by the new, eagerly awaited work of masters we cannot wait to launch."  

This year's main competition lineup includes the world premieres of Turkish director Onur Saylak’s debut, More, a study of a 14-year-old boy drawn into the dark world of his father’s refugee smuggling business; Ofir Raul Grazier’s Israel-Germany production The Cakemaker, about a German pastry chef who moves to Israel after the death of a man for whom he holds feelings as strong as those of the man’s widow; The Line by Slovak director Peter Bebjak, about the world of cross-border cigarette smuggling;  Czech director Vaclav Kadrnka’s medieval drama Little Crusader;  Bosnian director Alen Drljevic’s study of a therapy retreat for former fighters still traumatized 20 years after the end of the Yugoslav civil war, Men Don’t Cry; and Ralang Road by India’s Karma Takapa, which tells the stories of four people living in the Himalayan countryside.

There will also be international premieres of French director Nicolas Silhol’s Corporate, a glimpse into the uncompromising world of a corporate PR manager who witnesses the suicide of a company employee; Keep the Change, American filmmaker Rachel Israel’s unconventional romance; and Breaking News, Romanian helmer Iulia Rugina’s somber look at a TV reporter’s assignment to report the memorial service for a colleague killed in a tragic accident that he himself survived.

The "East of the West" competition lineup includes the world premiere of Azerbaijani drama Pomegranate Orchard, by Ilgar Najaf, about a man's attempt to heal deep emotional scars by returning to the humble homestead where he grew up; and Ukrainian filmmaker Marina Stepanska's Falling, a fragile love story set in the young generation of today's post-revolutionary Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the documentary competition includes Czech filmmaker's Vit Kluska's "highly anticipated" portrait of a Czech neo-Nazi, The White World According to Dalibor; and Tarzan's Testicles, a Romanian study directed by Alexandru Solomon of a decrepit Soviet-era institute in Abkhazia that once was the center for experiments to breed a hybrid between man and monkey, where people and primates "like sad relics of the past" still live together in the derelict buildings of the medical facility.

The 52nd edition of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival is set to run June 30-July 8.