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Karlovy Vary international filmfestival 2006, report by Joe MacMahon, Ireland

Karlovy Vary festival impresses first by its size. Continuous screenings from 9a.m to early the next morning took place in 13 venues, conveniently situated within walking distance of each other. It impressed also by the quality of the films on offer and by the contagious enthusiasm of its audiences who, in my experience, packed every screening without exception.

Outside every venue hordes of young visitors were to be seen eagerly waiting for any last minute tickets that might become available. For the statistically minded, there were 474 screenings of 268 films(226 of which were features) of which 13 were world, 33 were international and 8 were European premieres. The emphasis was ,as one would expect, on films from Eastern Europe with a specially devoted competitive section called “East of the West” and another section devoted to contemporary Czech films. Other sections included a documentary competition and tributes to Jan Nemec and John Huston.

In the official selection- competitive section with which the FICC jury was principally concerned the standard of films was generally high. The jury unanimously awarded the DON QUIJOTE award to the Norwegian film Reprise a film which also impressed the Grand Jury who awarded its best director award to its young director, Joachim Trier. A name I would venture to forecast will become better known in the near future. A special mention was awarded to the Finish film Frozen City. Films which also impressed me personally and should be of interest to film clubs if they become available include (using English titles) Winter Journey( Germany), Mescal(Mexico), Several People Little Time( Poland). As in all such festivals one regrets that these and some of other films in competition are not guaranteed a wider audience. The Grand jury in its wisdom awarded the best film award to an American film called Sherrybaby.

If there was a predominant theme to emerge from the films it was the irreconcilability of personal aspiration to fulfilment with the constraints of the traditional family structure. A conflict analysed with clinical precision in Frozen City. My Czech jury colleague Michal Duricek has already pointed out that this is a movement away from the traditional political preoccupations of the festival. Attendance at the festival was a privilege that I think will enhance the contacts and knowledge base on which the programming and development of the film society movement is based. It seems important, I think, to maintain and develop the already established profile of the FICC at this festival.

Joe McMahon, Galway Film Society, Ireland