Karel Och • Artistic director, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
“Czech and Slovak film producers have done a great deal of work in the last ten years”
by Martin Kudláč
- KARLOVY VARY 2018: Cineuropa talked to Karel Och, the artistic director of the KVIFF, about the emergence of new names in domestic cinema and the inclusion of Middle Eastern films
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’s artistic director, Karel Och, met up with Cineuropa to discuss the growing number of new talents in domestic cinema, its international potential and the expansion of the festival’s scope to incorporate promising filmmakers from the Middle East.
Cineuropa: Similarly to previous editions, Czech cinema is represented in each competition. How would you weigh up the situation in regard to Czech cinema since the last edition?
Karel Och: The volume of Czech films might have risen in the last few years due to the higher number of FAMU graduates. However, it is hard to assess the situation, since it is an unpredictable environment. This year, we have an unprecedented number of new films – nine world premieres, a number that none of us dared to dream of at the end of last year. Actually, we saw even more, although we picked those that we considered to be internationally competitive. There were fewer domestic films at the last edition, yet the main competition winner, Little Crusader [+see also:
interview: Václav Kadrnka
film profile], had a very successful run on the international festival circuit. What will happen with Czech films is hard to tell at this point, although both domestic filmmakers in the main competition, Olmo Omerzu and Adam Sedlák, have international potential.
What impression will the domestic films make on the international audience, in your opinion?
Each of the films is quite different: there are, let’s say, more alternative efforts, such as Domestique [+see also:
interview: Adam Sedlák
film profile], which boasts strong scriptwriting, while on the other hand there is Olmo Omerzu, a filmmaker who thinks on a very deep level and who has the skills to translate that thinking into the film language. It will depend on exactly which film the international audience watches.
Domestic films are tending to gravitate towards genre, such as Peter Bebjak’s The Line [+see also:
interview: Andrey Yermak
interview: Peter Bebjak
film profile] and Adam Sedlák’s Domestique. Why is this happening?
It is a strange trend. We can see that the interest in – so to speak – formless films is waning, movies that describe certain feelings and moods. They reflect the filmmaker’s inner world much more than in cases where the director is an admirer of genre cinema and is not afraid to toy with genre hybrids and mixes. That’s what I like about Peter Bebjak, and I am following his career with great interest. Genre film is more accommodating of the audience by its very nature, and another exciting aspect of it is that it creates something that seems accommodating of a larger audience but is provocative at the same time.
A lot of new domestic names have emerged at this edition. How come?
I believe that, at least in the Czech Republic, a lot depends on the director-producer tandem. Several of those tandems previously materialised while they were studying at FAMU, such as Ondřej Zima and Jan Prušinovský, or Jiří Konečný and Olmo Omerzu. In many cases, it is more than just a professional partnership, and is more of a long-term camaraderie – the coupling of two artists, two personalities. It is also about the producer supporting the director, which is the case for Beata Parkanová, whose debut was staged by seasoned producer Viktor Tauš. Filmmakers are by no means all alone, and Czech and Slovak film producers have done a great deal of work in the last ten years. They regularly take part in Producers on the Move, and they frequently co-produce with foreign countries, such as Jiří Konečný and his participation in Radu Jude’s latest movie, for example.
This year’s biggest change is the inclusion of Middle Eastern countries in the East of the West competition. Why did you decide to do this?
The territorial definition of the countries in the East of the West competition from the 1990s was a rather political one. Society is undergoing a transformation in a certain part of the continent, countries are in touch to a greater degree, and society is opening up and communicating more. And we thought the time had come to change the ideological definition to a geographic one. We found a lot of talented filmmakers in the countries of the Middle East whose spirit reflected what is happening in the Balkans or Turkey. And perhaps they were films and names that were not yet complex enough for the main competition, but we wanted to help those movies somehow and now have the chance to present them. The East of the West competition seemed like the ideal platform – we did the same for the Eastern Promises industry platform.
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