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The sun had risen earlier in the day and the stars including Alicia Vikander, husband Michael Fassbender, Russell Crowe and contest juror Patricia Clarkson came out for the opening ceremony on the Friday night gala of the 57th Annual of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
The black-tie opening event of what has been billed as Central Europe’s biggest film party was followed by a free performance by British electronic band Morcheeba just outside the venue, Hotel Thermal, which serves as its headquarters. general of the festival. Despite some recurring downpours, fans came out in large numbers to stargaze as the celebrities arrived and later to enjoy the music.
Both big stars of the night, awarded with lifetime achievement awards, also received a very, very warm local reception. Upon his arrival, Vikander signed some autographs and posed for selfies before stepping into the venue via its red carpet. Upon entering the event hall, Crowe was greeted with much applause and cheers. Both received standing ovations when called to the stage. In Crowe’s case, at least one audience member was also heard yelling “Maximus!” in reference to the star’s legendary character in Gladiator.
Crowe was awarded the Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s Crystal Globe for “outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema”, while Vikander (A real deal, Ex car) accepted the festival’s President’s Award, a lifetime achievement award. Presenting the trophies, which both stars on stage described as very heavy, was festival president Jiří Bartoška.
“I have to tell you the truth. I was unaware of this film festival until recently,” admitted Crowe, mentioning that he has been to “so many film festivals around the world that they are completely disorganized.” He complimented the Karlovy Vary team for having organized a festival that “runs like clockwork”.
Crowe also pointed out that, despite having started working in TV in 1970 and in feature films since 1989, “fortunately for me, I still love going to work every day.” He credited it to him deciding on movies “when I really feel like there’s some sort of connection. So I never have to wake up at 4 in the morning and I don’t know why I’m here.”
Crowe also emphasized his “relationship with cinema” and love of cinema, adding that it “gets deeper and deeper”. But the star concluded her acceptance speech by telling the audience not to go to bed early but to watch her performance with her band at the Indoor Garden Party later in the evening. “I’m really humbled,” Crowe said, before adding laughter and applause: “However, I’m here for the concert.” She left the stage with the words: “See you at the show.”
Vikander charmed the audience when she mentioned her film A real deal had filmed in the Czech Republic, that she enjoyed her time in the country and that it was “critical” to her career. She recalled that colleagues and friends had said great things about the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
The Swedish star also spoke about director Karim Aïnouz Burning ember, with the Oscar winner as Queen Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, played by Jude Law, screened as the opening film of the 2023 Karlovy Vary film festival on Friday evening. Aïnouz and Law are currently filming elsewhere, he shared. Vikander pointed out that she wanted to work with Aïnouz and was also interested in telling the story of “a woman who is in an abusive relationship”.
The film had premiered as part of the Cannes Film Festival competition lineup, with THR’s review describing it as a “clever historical drama bristling with court intrigue”. Vikander won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Tom Hooper The Danish girl.
The opening ceremony, once again choreographed by Michal and Šimon Cabani, known as the Cabani brothers, started with action. The stage curtain opened, revealing smoke. Soon a group of women became visible who, to the surprise and delight of the audience, skated and danced on the ice to dance to the music-driven sounds and cheers of the crowd. Last year, the opening number had not used ice, but fire.
Scottish actor Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Obi-Wan Kenobi) is also in the picturesque Czech spa town to receive the Karlovy Vary President’s Award. On Saturday he will present his latest film, You sing louder, I sing louder, by director Emma Westenberg, in which she stars alongside her daughter Clara, who is also among the guests of the festival. The road trip drama, inspired by the father-daughter duo’s real-life stories, premiered at South by Southwest. Clara co-wrote the screenplay, with Vera Bulder and Ruby Caster. THR’‘s review lauded the drama that explores addiction and family ties for “its charismatic stars”.
The Czech festival will also celebrate Robin Wright with a President’s Award, as well as pay tribute to Christine Vachon.
Clarkson (Pieces of April, Far from heaven) and Ward (The end of the fucking world) are part of the jury of this year’s Karlovy Vary competition.
The 2023 Karlovy Vary festival will run until 8 July.