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Karlovy Vary 2000 by Yvette Mas Aguilera (English)


(5 to 15 July 2000)

By Yvette Mas Aguilera

I guess you, reader, don’t know me, so let me introduce myself. I’m 21 years old, my name is Yvette and I’m in the committee of a very humble Catalan film society called „Cineclub la Garriga" (www.vallesnet.org/cineclub). I’ve had the pleasure of being part of a FICC jury in the 35th edition of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (in the Czech Republic). The beginning of all these was June the 7th when I was told I would be the person delegated by the Catalan Federation of Film Societies. The festival was, exceptionally, 11 days long, so I enjoyed the Czech hospitality from the 5th to the 16th of July.

From the Prague airport to the city of Karlovy Vary there’s a two hours trip through small towns and green valleys: Maybe that’s the reason why one becomes so astonished at the marvellous view of a huge castle, the „Imperial" that has become a hotel, right above the city. Then, while descending one starts to remember the words everybody told you about the city „wonderful place" they said, and it is exactly what they said: wonderful!! Old houses perfectly restored turned into hotels or restaurants, unpolluted streets and one thing that breaks the harmony of the perfect view, that’s the Thermal, the 15 floor hotel I’d stay in during the festival.

Once I’d been absorbed by that magnificent environment it was time to let myself get absorbed by the movies, the main reason why I was there. I could have seen only the 19 films to competition, among the ones the juries had to choose the winners, but it would have been a stupid negligence given the quality of the program. The main difficulty was to combine the perfect timetable in order to see all I wanted to see between 13 sections and 5 retrospectives. Among the retrospectives I focused on „The French Woman and Love" with films like „Nettoyage à sec" by Anne Fontaine or „Post coitum animal triste" by Brigitte Rouan. Also the section: „Twenty Centuries Anno Domini" with precious films like „Mia eonitita ke mia mera" directed by brilliant Theo Angelopoulos, Ken Loach’s „Land and Freedom", „The Deer Hunter" by Michael Cimino and the ingenuous „Miracolo a Milano" directed by Vittorio De Sica.

In the other thirteen sections there were unequal and strongly opposed films for the high quality of ones and the total lack of it of the others. It was a surprise for me to find in „Horizons" films such as „Code inconnu" by Michael Haneke or „The loss of sexual innocence" by Michael Figgis . Films that, despite having Juliette Binoche and Julian Sands, respectively, in their cast, they don’t even get to tell a story, but to give unconnected parts of it to bore and drive the audience to dispair. But, luckily, on the other hand, we still can enjoy masterpieces like splendid Mr. Kiarostami „Le Vent nous emportera", delicious „Xiao" by Zhang Yang, „Dancer in the dark" the „musical" that impacts deep in the audience by Lars Von Trier and the Dardenne brothers’ young „Rosetta".

From „Another view", „Pas de café, pas de téle, pas de sexe" by Romed Wyder, a love triangle between two young friends and the girlfriend of one of them. Also young characters, but with very different origins with similar problems that make them grow faster in „Nordrand" by Barbara Albert in „Variety Critics’ Choice". Another section was „Forum of Independents" with plenty of interesting long features and shorts such as talented Jeremy Podeswa „The Five Senses", Erik Zonca „Le Petit Voleur". Also a special short I had the chance to see last year in „Festival de Cinema Independent de Barcelona" and I’ve had the possibility to enjoy again: „Ketchup" an idea of two smart and Belgian brains: Coeman and Goldschmidt with an admirable capability for fascination. From the „Documentary Films in competition" I would like to focus on an interesting documentary about the story of an old German genocide built up from interviews with his relatives opinions: „Mit Bubi Heim ins Reich" by Stanislaw Mucha.

I think there’s 7 outstanding films out of the whole 19 in the Official Selection to Competition. My favourite was the winner of the„Don Quijote", our jury, award. Not because it won the prize, but because it really deserved to win it. The story of a man reconstructed following an argument in the shape of a flask-back that leads us through a splendid trip, sometimes cruel, sometimes tender. Showing us the reality of an individual in the scope of a changing country (Korea) that subverts everything. This wonder has a title: „Bakha Satang" and also a name: Lee Chang-Dong (don’t forget this name because if you don’t know him yet, you’ll sure hear more about him). Other movies that deserve to say a word on are „Une Affaire de goût" directed by Berdnard Rapp, a refreshing and original story full of eccentricities that, in the end, they might be not so.

„Arous-e Atash" by Khosro Sinai is the story of an Iranian woman tied to a family and a tradition she questions and tries to avoid. She doesn’t accept her fate and fights to get what she really wants. Another woman, this one desolated by the political situation of her country, Germany (and the fall of the Berlin wall), is the splendid nostalgic main character in „Die Unberührbare" directed by Oskar Roehler. Still in this section, other films that must be taken into consideration might be „Maršal" by Vinko Brešan a comedy about communism.

„Duze zwierze" directed by Jerzy Stuhr, a fable about an abandoned camel that becomes the focus of all the weird reactions in the neighbourhood where people see problems out of nothing. And to finish, the one that got the main jury price „Eu tu eles" a story taken from a television program that Andrucha Waddington has turned into a movie that gets audience approval and awards.

As you can see my comments on the films are not very long as I don’t mean to tell you what the movies are about, but to give my personal point of view about the best I saw in the festival. That’s why I tell you if you really want to know about these films, you must go to festivals, see them and get your own conclusions. That’ll be the best. You can also wait until they get to your country cinemas, but maybe this is not a viable possibility because many of these wonders will not have a good distribution. How can it be possible that films like „Bakha Satang" or „Die Unberührbare" will never get the attention of some international cinemas? I’ll never understand that.

That’s my report on Karlovy Vary, great movies, unique place, kind and interesting people to meet... I just want to thank both, the „Federació Catalana de Cine Clubs" (Catalan Federation of Film Societies) to have delegated me as member of an international jury and the „Fédération Internationale des Ciné-Clubs". It was a pleasure to be part of a FICC jury and moreover being the person in charge to read (in quite pathetic English) the prices my colleagues Sabine Beckermann, Petra Dominkova, Max Signorel, Esther Quetting and I had decided to give. Last but not least I would like to thank the festival for its hospitality.

Yvette Mas Aguilera, member of the FICC jury in KVIFF (Karlovy Vary International Film Festival)