Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

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The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Czech: Mezinárodní filmový festival Karlovy Vary) is a film festival held annually in July in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic. The Karlovy Vary Festival gained worldwide recognition over the past years and has become one of Europe's major film events.



The Karlovy Vary film festival is one of the oldest in the world. The pre-war dream of many enthusiastic filmmakers materialized in 1946 when a non-competition festival of films from seven countries took place in Mariánské Lázně and Karlovy Vary. Above all it was intended to screen the results of the recently nationalized Czechoslovak film industry. After the first two years the festival moved permanently to Karlovy Vary.

For several decades after the Communist takeover in February 1948 the festival was entirely under the control of the political establishment. Periods in which the selection of films, the conferral of awards, and the invitation of guests were dominated by Communist propaganda alternated with less restrictive periods, such as the sixties, in which the festival program was able to offer the latest artistic trends in both Czechoslovak and world cinema, including the West. Festivals with international stars and noteworthy films gave way to others filled with bombastic socialist rhetoric, which nearly caused the complete loss of the festival audience.

With regard to the Karlovy Vary IFF, the great social and political changes that took place after the Velvet Revolution in November 1989 pushed concerns about organizing the festival to the background. The program for 1990 was saved by the release of a collection of Czechoslovak films which had been locked up for years in a storage vault. And the appearance of a number of important international guests such as Miloš Forman, Lindsay Anderson, Annette Bening and Robert De Niro helped as well. Future festivals were in doubt. Financial problems and a lack of interest on the part of the government, organizers and viewers almost ended the festival's long tradition in 1992.

In 1994 the 29th Karlovy Vary IFF inaugurated an entirely new tradition. After nearly forty years of alternating with the Moscow IFF, the festival began once again to take place every year. The Karlovy Vary Film Festival Foundation was set up in 1993 co-created by the Ministry of Culture, The City of Karlovy Vary, and the Grand Hotel Pupp. Actor Jiří Bartoška was invited to be the festival's president, and Eva Zaoralová became program director in 1995. Since 1998 the organization of the festival has been carried out by Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary, a joint stock company.


The core of the program is the feature film competition; in accordance with FIAPF regulations only those films which have not been shown in competition at any other international festivals can be included. The documentary competition is another important festival event. The extensive informative program features both distribution pre-premiers and films awarded at other festivals. But it also includes discoveries of artistic creations by independent directors, productions coming out of little known film industries, retrospectives, and an overview of Czech film output during the past year. For the tenth straight year the festival will present Variety Critics' Choice: new and interesting films of mainly European production selected by critics working at this prestigious magazine.

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