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FESTIVALS Czech Republic

Love and Death at Karlovy Vary

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Love and Death at Karlovy Vary

Two films from veteran directors starring some of Europe’s finest actors were presented in competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) at the start of this week: Ferzan Ozpetek’s Saturno Contro and Jean Becker’s Conversations with My Gardener [+see also:
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Saturno Contro, a R&C Produzioni film that was co-produced by UGC YM and is sold internationally by Films Distribution, was a bona fide hit at home, making almost €7.65m. It looks at a group of 40-something friends in Rome whose bonds are tested when one of them falls into a coma.

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New to Ozpetek’s world are Pierfrancesco Favino and Luca Argentero as a loving couple, and Ambra Angiolini, who won both a David di Donatello and a Nastro d’Argento for her finely drawn portrayal of an emotionally adrift cokehead. The large ensemble cast also includes Margherita Buy, Stefano Accorsi and Serra Yilmaz, the protagonists of Ozpetek’s Ignorant Fairies.

Both Ignorant Fairies and Saturno Contro seem like similar stories of friends looking to each other for support but as the director explained in Karlovy Vary: “now the characters are older and have no money troubles, which allows me to focus completely on their emotions”.

Jean Becker’s Conversations with My Gardener, also in competition, is constructed on class differences and their contrasting troubles. Daniel Auteuil and Jean-Pierre Darroussin star as a bourgeois painter and his working-class gardener respectively. They muse about life and death under the provincial sun, making for a laid-back crash course in great acting and discussions that could be described as philosophy “light”.

Also already released at home (by Studio Canal), it has garnered over 800,000 admissions so far. It was produced by ICE3 with backing from Studio Canal, France 2 and Rhône-Alpes Cinéma. Studio Canal handles international sales.

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