By Adam Ray Palmer
Diary entry day number five of the 54th Karlovy Vary Film Festival… It’s 3:38pm and I am currently sitting in the Prague International Airport collating my thoughts on a wonderful festival.
I have spent the best part of a week in Karlovy Vary and I have nothing but praise for the town that’s situated just ninety minutes from Prague.
In the three working days here, I caught five very different films. Two were documentaries, one was a big budget Marvel offering, one was a Belgian tragicomedy and the final movie was a zombie apocalypse comedy from Jim Jarmusch.
The two documentaries, Diego Maradona and Apollo 11, I caught were both brilliantly executed about very different subjects. The former is about the famous footballing villain, but Asif Kapadia (writer/director) tells the unheard story of the man behind the glamour and the fame and how he has adapted to life in the public eye. Apollo 11 is of course about the 1969 moon landing and how everything took place from start to finish. Using unseen archive footage that has been digital enhanced, it’s a remarkable gaze into what really happened including all the emotion involved. Both movies are worth seeking out.
The other three films I caught were feature films that certainly differed in narrative. Patrick focuses on a naturist camp and a lost hammer, The Dead Don’t Die follows a zombie apocalypse in a mysterious American town called Centerville and Spider-Man: Far From Home is the second instalment in Spidey franchise that certainly went down a storm in the Grand Hall. Click the links to read all my reviews.
The festival itself is a marvel, excuse the pun. It’s filled with a friendly and diverse audience who are all here for a good time and to catch a few movies. The festival is ran like clockwork and the staff are all too pleased to help you.
The epicentre, the Thermal Hotel, is a hive for activity. There are loads of great bars, restaurants, meeting space and lots of places to hang out and explore. For my first year at KVIFF, I am overwhelmed at how good the festival is. For the last five years I have been to the Berlin, London and Venice film festivals but I think I will be adding Karlovy Vary to my go-to list each year too.
The town itself is picturesque with architecture to stare at all day. The Grand Pupp hotel, where parts of Casino Royale were filmed, is a beautiful building (bottem-left picture) where many of the talent stay for the week. The surrounding village has Gaudi-like buildings all around as each house and restaurant are painted in a different pastel colour. If not for the festival, visit for the charm of the town.
In Summary, I have been bowled over by this festival. It’s place where you feel content the whole time, catching movies and drinking beer in the sun. If you can find me a better place in the first week of July, let me know… because I’ll be boarding a flight to the Czech Republic for the next few decades.