The Belgian-Canadian film “Angel at Sea” won the prize for the best film at the 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday night. The film – which recounts the life of a 12-year-old boy with a manic depressive father – is the first feature length film of Belgian director Frédéric Dumont. The best actor award was shared by Olivier Gourmet, who played the father in the film, and American Paul Giamatti for his role in the film “Cold Souls.” Germany’s Andreas Dresen won the best director award for the film “Whisky and Vodka.” The best actress was Denmark’s Paprika Steen for her role in “Applause.” American actor, producer and director, John Malkovich, accepted a special prize for his lifetime contribution to cinema.
Attendance at this year’s film festival was more or less in line with that for 2008. More than 12,000 accreditations were awarded for the film festival - around 1,200 more than last year – according to organisers. The number of tickets sold came to 131,293 compared with around 144,000 in 2008. This year 464 films were screened compared with 477 in 2008.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said on Sunday that a fall in the number
of asylum applications by Czechs in Canada could help stave off the threat
that Ottawa will reintroduce visas. Mr Kohout said that applications had
fallen in recent weeks. “It is a very positive signal which Canada is
also taking into account,” he said in a tv interview on Sunday.
Canada is reported to be on the verge of reintroducing visa requirements for Czechs because of the surge in applications for asylum, largely from the Czech Roma community. While not ruling out a comeback for visas, Mr Kohout said it should not happen in the next days. He said other procedures such as electronic registration or stepped up airport controls could help avoid such a step. Mr Kohout added that he expected the EU to impose visas requirements on Canada in reply to any move against the Czech Republic. If this did not happen, Prague would lodge a complaint with the European Court of Justice for lack of solidarity, he said.
Czechs lodged 1,720 applications for asylum since the start of the year according to figures from the Canadian embassy in Prague. The newspaper Dnes reported on Saturday suggested that many Roma who left for Canada now wanted to return.
The Czech Ministry of Interior is looking to introduce stricter measures to control foreigners who register businesses to gain long term residency in the country, according to Czech Television. Around 10,000 foreigners registered in this way between January and May. The ministry believes many of the businesses are only serving as a front for obtaining residency. It also suspects the mafia is involved in organising registration and demands up to 30,000 crowns for the service. The television report said tougher rules are likely to be sought after October elections.
A rift in the caretaker government has broken out over the dismissal of deputy justice minister František Korbel. The Green Party has said it will seek an explanation over the fate of its man from Prime Minister Jan Fischer and has called for the resignation of Justice Minister Daniela Kovárová. Green Party leader Ondřej Liška said he was not consulted about the dismissal and complained of the weak reasons behind it. Mr Korbel is rumoured to have been picked out because of his criticism of manipulation of the law by top state legal officials. The Green Party helped form the caretaker government alongside the two main parties, the Civic Democrats and Social Democrats.
Around 400,000 Czechs are at risk from floods, according to the Czech Television programme “Václav Moravec Questions” on Sunday. Moves to straighten river flows and changes in agricultural use meant that excess water was not being held in the soil, the programme added. Environment Minister Ladislav Miko said on the programme that the current caretaker government expects to table an overall plan how to better deal with the flood risk before the end of September. He added that the cost of restoring rivers and streams so that they contain flood water was around 115 billion crowns. More than a dozen people were killed in flash floods at the end of June, mostly in northern Moravia and southern Bohemia.
At least eight people died on Czech roads over the weekend, four of them motorcyclists. The toll came after four days with no deaths at all at the start of the week. During the first half of the year 300 people died on Czech roads. The Czech police recently launched checks aimed in particular at encouraging motorcyclists to take more care.
A referee called an early end to a Sparta Prague friendly in Austria because of flares and smoke bombs thrown by fans of the Czech club on Saturday. The referee blew the whistle on the game against German second league team Duisburg in the 81th minute with the score at 1:1. Sparta fans had started throwing flares onto the field in the first half. Ironically, one of their midfield players was unable to take the field in the second half after suffering from the smoke.
The Czech Republic has won a place in the Davis Dup semifinals after beating Argentina 3:2. In the decisive final match on Sunday Radek Štěpánek beat Juan Monaco in straight sets. The score was 7:6, 6:3, 6:2. Argentina came back in the first of the return singles when Tomáš Berdych lost in straight sets against the world number five, Juan Martin del Potro. The score was 4:6, 4:6, 4:6 with the result bringing the tie level at two apiece. Czech captain Jaroslav Navrátil opted to play injury recovering Radek Štěpánek in the last game against Juan Monaco rather than go with lower ranked Ivo Minář.
The 44th Karlovy Vary Film Festival ends on Saturday. The 10-day festival will conclude in the evening with the awards ceremony. This includes the announcement of the winner of the crystal globe for best feature film. Insiders say there is no clear favourite for the award. American actor, director and producer John Malkovich is also due to receive an award for his lifetime contribution to cinema at the closing ceremony.