Can’t help but start with the amazing films I saw yesterday, one of which was the premiere of the Danish film Applause, a Martin Pieter Zandvliet film, starring Paprika Steen in the main role of an extravagant actress trying to fight her alcoholism and get her two sons back into custody while still fighting her demons. With this film, the main competition has officially been launched, and I must say it will be tough this year. Despite the film’s producer Mikael Pieter Zandvliet was a bit nervous when introducing the film to the packed Grand Hall of Hotel Thermal, I have to say he really needn’t be. The film was a sheer pleasure to watch as Steen gave the best in her and her great acting was supported by genius directing depicting the reality as well as excellent editing.
In the Horizons section be on the lookout for Philippe Lioret’s latest film Welcome, a breathtaking picture of a 17-year-old Kurdish boy Bilal, who having escaped from the war-torn Iraq to France is trying to swim the English Channel to get to England to reunite with his lost love and is helped by Simon, a middle-aged swimming instructor. A brilliant portrait of two men from different parts of the world and culture.
And yet another breathtaking film is Séraphine, a story of the French naïve-style painter, who has spent majority of her life undiscovered, living as a cleaner, only to be recognized after her death. Screened also in the Horizons section.
Apart from seeing these great films, I also had a good look around the scene in front of Hotel Thermal which has nicely slipped into its annual routine of music, sausage and beer stands already occupied by the arriving backpackers and lines forming in front of the box offices. The usual buzz was only interrupted by the red carpet arrivals of Miloš Forman and the cast and crew of his latest film A Walk Worthwhile and of course, the filmmakers and actors behind Applause. You could also see Paul Schrader and Isabelle Huppert arrive to Grandhotel Pupp today.
The annual hunt for tickets has also begun, sometimes resulting in arguments between the Festival Pass holders, who can as usual fill the empty seats in screening halls five minutes before each screening, and those who, despite having obtained their tickets in advance, arrive too late to claim their seat. So even if you have your ticket make sure you take your seat at least five minutes before the film starts otherwise don’t expect any mercy of the Festival-Pass holder who has stood in front of the hall hoping to get a seat, often for an hour or more.
From today till Friday you can catch a cup of tea each day at 3pm in front of Hotel Thermal and have a chat with the Czech filmmakers. Also, don’t miss your chance to see a Czech premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, starring Mickey Rourke as an aging professional wrestler, that won him an Oscar nomination this year. An international premiere of Villa Amalia with Isabelle Huppert is another film competing in the main competition for the Crystal Globe and is another of my personal recommendations.
Apart from that, try out the Karlovy Vary special meal: halušky. I had some last night and must say they taste better every year. And be on the lookout for our special slideshow that will really take you everywhere from the crowds to the red carpet!