Susan Sarandon, Helen Mirren Add Star Power as Karlovy Vary Film Festival Opens Friday

CinemaCon Career Achievement Award: Helen Mirren
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The 47th edition of the festival in the Czech Republic will screen 217 movies and close with Woody Allen's "To Rome With Love."

The 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opens on Friday with the international premiere of Lisa Barros D’Sa's and Glen Leyburn's film Good Vibrations, a biopic about Terri Hooley, a record-store owner instrumental in developing Belfast's punk-rock scene.

And like last year, a Woody Allen film will close the festival – To Rome With Love after Midnight in Paris served as the closer last year.

Overall, the festival will screen 217 films (including 34 shorts) with 22 world premieres and 744 film professionals scheduled to attend.

In addition to previously announced high-profile guests, such as Susan Sarandon and Helen Mirren, both of whom will be awarded Crystal Globe lifetime achievement awards, the festival will host up-and-coming star Kara Hayward, who plays the lead in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, Thomas Bo Larsen, one of director Thomas Vinterberg's regular actors who will present Vinterberg's The Hunt, and Italian horror maestro Dario Argento, who will introduce Dario Argento’s Dracula 3D, which will be screened as part of the festival's Midnight Screenings section.

Last year, the festival decided to inject some new blood into its programming and appointed longtime staffer Karel Och as artistic director. He took over from film historian Eva Zaoralova, who, along with Jiri Bartoska, a celebrated Czech actor and current festival president, is credited with building the festival's modern reputation. The festival has turned into something of a Cannes for Eastern Europe, which nonetheless balances offerings for both film industry professionals and moviegoers.

“We strike this balance by making the film professional and viewer oriented elements of the festival 'meet' one another,” said Och. “Our aim is to 'infect' film professionals with the cinephilia virus – they often have it already, but lack time to follow it – and to expose our regular audience to interesting issues from the world of the film industry in events open to the public. The balance is of crucial importance.”

Och is particularly proud of the programming staff's accomplishments in the festival's East of the West competition this year. “This year’s East of the West has a new look – it focuses on brand new titles by first- and second-time directors, and we all are very proud of the selection,” said Och. “We believe it is a highly representative program showcasing the work of the most talented young filmmakers from [all over] Central and Eastern Europe.”

The festival was founded in 1946. The Karlovy Vary Film Festival Foundation was founded in 1993 by the Czech Ministry of Culture, the City of Karlovy Vary, and the local Grand Hotel Pupp. Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary, a joint company, has organized the festival since 1998.

The total budget for this year is 135 million CZK ($6.5 million), 70 percent of which is from corporate sponsors, such as the RWE and CEZ energy groups, Audi Unicredit Bank and others. The other 30 percent come from state and municipal funds – the Czech Ministry of Culture, the Czech state budget, the city and theregion of Karlovy Vary.