The 53rd edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival will kick off with a glitzy opening ceremony on Friday evening. Over the next eight days, the spa town in West Bohemia will be the centre of the domestic arts world, with many tens of thousands of people flocking to the festival from the Czech Republic and further afield.
“I’m by the red carpet at Hotel Thermal, the centre of the festival, where in a few hours’ time thousands of people will be here to cheer the stars as they arrive.
“The biggest name at the opening ceremony will be the Hollywood actor Tim Robbins, who listeners will know from movies like The Shawshank Redemption. He’s going to receive Karlovy Vary’s Crystal Globe for outstanding contribution to world cinema.
“Unusually, the curtain-raiser will be an old film: Loves of a Blonde by Miloš Forman. That screening will be a tribute to the great director, who died in April, and I’m sure it’ll be an emotional experience for many people.
“Then afterwards there’s going to be a free concert, in front of Thermal, of music from Forman’s films performed by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Libor Pešek.”
What about the films – what can people look forward to?
“As always there are hundreds of films to choose from, including a dozen in the main competition. Also of course there’s the documentary competition, and East of the West, which in some ways is Karlovy Vary’s flagship section, as the festival prides itself on opening up films from Eastern Europe to broader international audiences.
“But really the selection of films is very broad, including a number of classic movies, so there’s something for everybody, if they can find tickets, which isn’t always easy.”
You mentioned Tim Robbins. Who are the other big names at Karlovy Vary this year?
“Just two days ago the festival announced that the Hollywood actor Robert Pattinson will be coming to the closing on Saturday week. He’s a really big star with younger audiences, so I’m sure we can expect some screaming when he arrives on the red carpet.
“Another quite big name is Richard Linklater, the US director, who is known for movies like Slacker and Boyhood. He’s also due at the opening tonight.
“Coming later in the festival are the directors Barry Levinson, who did Rain Man, and Terry Gilliam, who was in Monty Python and has made movies like Brazil.
“And as well as those kind of established names, there will be many, many more guests from all around the world presenting all sorts of movies to the enthusiastic, predominantly young audience here in Karlovy Vary.”