Karlovy Vary Film Festival, KVIFF 2015

Richard Gere

by Sherif Awad
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) celebrated its 50th anniversary this year with the attendance of many American and international stars and filmmakers. The edition that started on July 3 and wrapped on July 11 also saw the screening of more than 200 films of different genres coming from all over the world. KVIFF’s 50th edition kick-started with the arrival of Richard Gere who was invited to receive the Crystal Globe, the special festival’s award destined for life achievement in cinema arts. Gere, who was overwhelmed by the raving reception of his fans around the festival’s theatre, kneeled in front of KVIFF’s president Jiri Bartoska while receiving the award, a beautiful gesture reminiscent of his scene as Lancelot receiving his knighthood from King Arthur in First Knight (1995).
Gere also presented his new film Time Out of Mind that opened the festival. Written and directed by Oren Moverman, the film centers on George (played by Gere) who is kicked out of his apartment only to become one of many homeless men and women across the streets of New York. While trying to find a solution for his problems, George reconnects with his daughter Maggie (Jena Malone) who works as a bartender. Although the dark drama was not the typical festival’s opening, it scored very positively with the audience.
KVIFF also welcomed Harvey Keitel who returned to the festival eleven years after his reception of the Crystal Globe tribute. Keitel also presented his new film Youth by Paolo Sorrentino in which he is playing an aging filmmaker taking a vacation with his old friend played by Michael Caine.  Keitel also met the press at the festival’s lounge where he answered their questions that revolved around the most important peaks of his career. Keitel remembered how he is used to rehearse with Robert de Niro by reading first their appointed roles then the full script of the movie. Also, he explained how he raised more than a million dollars to produce Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. A veteran of the Actor Studio, Keitel remembered Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando whose works positively influenced the generation of actors and filmmakers he belonged to.
Another interesting cult actor made a stop in Karlovy Vary: The German-born, now California-based Udo Kier whose filmography states that he co-starred in more than 200 films since his debuts in the 1960s. We will know more about Kier from Kier himself who granted The Westchester Guardian an exclusive interview that we will posted in a separate article. 
Charming American feature film Bob and the Trees, where the main character, logger and rap fan Bob Tarasuk, plays himself, was awarded with the Crystal Globe at the 50th anniversary Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Tarasuk accepted the Festival Grand Prix in person, together with director Diego Ongaro.
At the closing ceremony, the jury of the international competition composed of American producer Tim League, Russian screenwriter Angelina Nikonova, Icelandic actor Olafur Darri Olafsson, Iran-born producer Hengameh Panahi, and Czech critic Ondrej  Zach, awarded the American film Bob and the Trees The Crystal Globe for Best Film. Bob that premiered early this year at Sundance Film Festival is part documentary, part fiction with the main protagonist Bob Tarasuk, a fifty-something Massachusetts logger and farmer for more than three decades, playing himself on the screen. When receiving the award with the rest of the crew, Bob admitted he never had a passport and so it was his first time to travel outside of the USA. Director Diego Ongaro and his wife screenwriter Courtney Maum also financed the film that is still looking for American and international distribution. Tarasuk dedicated the award to his Czech grandmother and his Ukrainian grandfather.

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