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Karlovy Vary kicks off with Sweet Dreams, Good Vibrations and Helen Mirren’s call for girl power

The Thermal rocks with the sounds of 1970s punk as Terri Hooley opens the festival.

 

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The 47th edition of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicked off Friday night with images of a swimming pool, especially apt giving the current sunshine and heat wave in the Czech spa town.

As a cover of The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ played, dancers suspended from the ceiling of the huge grand hall of the Thermal ‘swam’ down the projection of a pool, before some Czech old timers came on stage in their swimming outfits (not sure what the latter was all about, I didn’t switch on my English translation in time). But there was some talk later about how swimming pools signaled success and luxury in American films, and how in Czech films you could find a body in them, or they reflected poor moral character in anyone who owned a pool. At any rate, it was quite an entrancing way to kick off the proceedings.

A new festival trailer was dedicated this year to Otakar Vavra, who died in September 2011 at the age of 100 and who “left a deep impression on Czech film,” host Marek Eben noted.

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Helen Mirren was effortlessly elegant in a purple lace gown as she accepted the festival’s Crystal Globe award for Artistic Achievement (following by her British colleague and fellow Dame, Judi Dench, last year). Her husband, filmmaker Taylor Hackford, joined her in Karlovy Vary, and she joked that of the heavy award: “I hope my husband survives, it’s quite a weapon.”

Noting the lifetime achievement aspect of the honour she said: “I hope it’s the end of one life and the beginning of another. I’m determined to have at least three more lives.”

She paid tribute to Nora Ephron who died earlier this week, and spoke of how women needed to take even greater roles behind the camera. “In the last five years I’ve made films with an all female camera crew, even with female electricians. So things have moved on as far as I’m concerned, but they haven’t moved on quite enough yet for me. I’d like in five years to find that it would be 50% female directors. I would like to see 85% women presenting their films.”

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Luckily, one of the female directors at the festival – Lisa Barros D’Sa – was on hand to then introduce the film she directed (with Glenn Leyburn), Good Vibrations. The story of Belfast DJ/record store owner and ‘godfather of punk’ stars Richard Dormer as Terri Hooley. The crowd-pleasing film has a remarkable centerpiece moment with The Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks,’ sounding great with the acoustics in the Thermal’s Velky sal.

Of the film’s international premiere in Karlovy Vary, Barros D’Sa said: “It’s a story set in Northern Ireland but we’ve always hope it would have resonance with audiences aronud the world.”

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