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The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Central Europe’s largest film festival and party, has a reputation for offering a healthy mix of regional and international films, as well as a mix of serious and entertaining fare, including some more quirky and thought-provoking films.
The 57th edition of the festival, which runs from 30 June to 8 July in the Czech spa town, is no different.
Here is DAYtakes a look at some of the wackiest and most bizarre sounding films it will offer to filmmakers and industry insiders everywhere.
ContentMidnight screenings section
Described as “a bare-bones survival action movie” on the Karlovy Vary festival website, Content features a Nazi-weary unit at the end of the war arguing with a lonely man, played by Jorma Tommila, in Finland. “Part Western, part tongue-in-cheek Finnish answer” to action films starring the likes of Sylvester Stallone, the film was directed by Finnish director Jalmari Helander.
“Stoic determination, resilience, courage, equanimity and tenacity of purpose: these are the characteristics of sisu, a concept that the Finns associate with their ‘national character'”, explains the Karlovy Vary website. “In the film of the same name, these qualities are embodied in a gruff man of few words capable of brutally and effectively killing Nazis.”
In my mother’s skinMidnight screenings section
This is another film set near the end of WWII, but this time in the Philippine countryside. “A supernatural evil begins to infiltrate a house inhabited by a woman and two children,” says a description of the plot of the film directed by Kenneth Dagatan on the Karlovy Vary website. “In My mother’s skinwhich plays with a magical worldview that transforms the horrors of war into mythological monsters, is something like Pan’s labyrinth mixed with popular Asian horror. A combination of horror film and war film, filled with slowly building tension and explosions of physical violence.”
DAYSundance’s review stated that “the popular horror fest evokes ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ in the best way.”
Captain Faggotron saves the universeMidnight screenings section
“Aliens are planning a ritual that could turn Earth into a homosexual planet,” he explains a summary of the plot of director Harvey Rabbit’s queer comedy. “And the only one who can stop them is the superhero Captain Faggotron, who however is forced to ask himself a question: is the homosexualization of the world really such a bad thing?”
The film, whose cast members have names worthy of a wrestling ring, such as Tchivett, Bishop Black and Rodrigo Garcia Alves, “fully embraces camp cinema, reveling in the exuberance, artificiality and, above all, the subversive satire of heteronormative popular culture”. look at the Karlovy Vary festival site. “In today’s world, this kind of shock therapy certainly isn’t just for LGBTQ+ movie fans.”
George smilingSpecial Screenings section
Like much of modern politics, the subject matter of this Georgian political and social documentary from director Luka Beradze is quite out there. But what sounds too crazy to be true is actually part of country life.
“During its 2012 election campaign titled ‘Smiling Georgia’, the ruling party promised its country’s poorest residents new teeth in exchange for their votes,” summarized the Karlovy Vary fest statement plot description online. “Dentists started pulling out people’s decaying teeth, but after the election defeat, the hopeful public never got their new pearly whites.” The documentary team introduces viewers to a sleepy Georgian village and its inhabitants, showing “that it rarely pays to believe the promises of populist politicians and vote for purely selfish reasons”.
Meanwhile, Tinatin Kajrishvili, another Georgian director, brings “a satirical parable about a saint who descends from the cross to live among mortals” in the competition lineup of the Karlovy Vary festival, promises its online summary.
“On the main square of a mining town stands a cross depicting a saint, regarded by the local miners as their protector,” he explains. “One day, the cross is taken down to be repaired and the statue of the saint suddenly disappears. When a mysterious stranger later appears among them, the residents put two and two together…” The saint mentioned in the title of the film is played by George Babluani.
A sensitive person
“Aging is not for sissies,” says one of the characters in Jáchym Topol’s novel Sensible person, for which the author won the Czech State Award for Literature in 2017. Karlovy Vary presents the world premiere of its freely adapted film version by Czech up-and-coming director Tomáš Klein. The artistic director of the festival Karel Och in an online summary of the film calls him “one of the most talented Czech directors”.
If that’s not enough to whet the appetite, the “darkly grotesque drama” takes audiences down two paths. True Path features an actor dad, his wife, and their two children as they try to make their way home. But there is also an imaginary path, on which “intellectual youth collides with circumstances that force the protagonist to acquire wisdom,” summarizes Och. Overall, the selector promises “a restless, piquant cinematic sensation about love, the fear of loneliness and children who gaze intently at their father.”