Magazine article Variety

Network and Discover

Magazine article Variety

Network and Discover

Article excerpt

Honors for Helen Mirren, Susan Sarandon among fest highlights

How does a film fest spell success? With great difficulty: Presenting first-rate films isn't enough if you want to be a force in the marketplace; too much emphasis on commerce won't help you, if you want to be a boutique destination for serious cinemaniacs.

But that's how the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, which takes place June 29-July 7, has managed to finesse the pitfalls: By going a little bit this way, and a little bit that.

"It is obvious that nowadays you cannot organize a film festival without paying attention to its industry aspect," says Karel Och, for whom the festival's 47th edition will mark his second as artistic director. "On the other hand, it has to be said that as much as we realize the importance of the industry angle, we do not want to lose our label as a 'filmmakers' festival.'"

Och says more and more activities are being introduced as a part of the fest's three industry days ("this year, for instance, they're more focused on producers"). The festival's well-established Works-in-Progress panel will continue to expose distributors, sales agents and programmers to Central and Eastern European films that are just-completed or in post-production. ("Last year, the Greek film 'L' was picked up here for Sundance's World Dramatic competition.").

At the same time, the fest's m.o. - larding its other-than-competition programs with choice European fare - should continue to give Karlovy Vary cachet as a fest that makes quality a priority.

Och says discovering talent is an important role for a festival. "Nevertheless," he adds, "I have always been convinced that quality programming is based on the capability to put together a distinctive group of interesting films, regardless of whether they are new or have played at a couple of festivals before."

The top competition slates - the official selection and the East of the West program - include world, international or European premieres. However, "You can create a new context for an older film," Och says. "Karlovy Vary has always been about films and about helping filmmakers to promote their films, instead of negotiating with them (as) premieres and so on."

That the Czech Republic's annual summer movie celebration is held in a spa town doesn't hurt its drawing power: Peter the Great first came in 1711. …

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