Monday, June 27, 2011


Like gingerbread houses for grownups. Source
Twenty-four hours from now, if all goes well, I'll be in Prague--jetlagged and disheveled and cursing myself, once again, for my appalling Czech language skills.

This will be my sixth year covering the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for the Festival Daily, and my first trip to Europe since 2009, as my travels in Mexico prevented me from attending last year. I've blogged about the experience before, here and here, and I look forward to posting updates again, once I've settled in.

Here's a quick primer on the festival: The first seeds of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (or "KVIFF") were planted in 1946, when a non-competition festival was launched in Karlovy Vary and Mariánské Lázně, another popular Czech spa town. Before the festival really had a chance to establish itself, the 1948 Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia pushed it in a new direction. The communists allowed the festival continued, but with a decidedly socialist bent. This had the negative effect of emphasizing films that had more merit as propaganda than as art -- but it also resulted in an emphasis on films from Third World countries.

Following the Velvet Revolution in 1989, KVIFF entered a new era. Today the festival continues to highlight films from developing nations, with several sidebars devoted to films from the Czech Republic and its central and eastern European neighbors. In terms of glitz and glamor, KVIFF can't compete with fellow category A festivals like Cannes. But what it lacks in glam, it makes up for in intimacy. Visitors won't walk away with a bagful of swag, but their chances of meeting and talking with a famous actor, attending a class taught by a favorite director, or watching an up-and-coming legend guest DJ at a local club are much higher.

I'm leaving in a few hours and I think my fellow travelers would appreciate it if I showered beforehand, so I'll close for now. If you have any PD/IC questions for the international film community, let me know, and I'll see if I can scrounge up some answers. Ahoj!

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