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Dench and Fukunaga kick off Karlovy Vary in style

Dame Judi and I both avoid eating pigs head at the opening party.

There’s no classier way to open a film festival than with Dame Judi Dench in attendance. The legendary actress was on hand on Friday night for the opening of the 46th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the delightful Czech spa town.

Dame Judi graciously accepted the festival’s Crystal Globe Award for outstanding artistic contribution to world cinema, and then she also reappeared onstage to introduce the opening film Jane Eyre, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. (By the way, Jane Eyre in Czech is Jana Eyrova which sounds very cool.) The young American director (who previously made Sin Nombre, a KVIFF selection in 2009) confessed that directors get accused of falling for their leading ladies (in this case the excellent Mia Wasikowska) but that he’d instead been smitten with Dame Judi and was excited to finally have dinner with her in Karlovy Vary.

She even stopped by the opening night party at the Grandhotel Pupp, mixing with the normal crowd, not cordoned off in a VIP area. The culinary highlights of the party included lots of sausage and a cooked pigs head being carved - I didn’t see Dame Judi tucking into that, and I couldn’t quite stomach it either.

She continued to charm everyone in town at a press conference on Saturday, cracking jokes with a photographer who thrust a camera in her face, talking about her childhood (and then lifelong) love of Shakespeare, and her fight scene with Cate Blanchett in Notes On A Scandal (“that slap was pretty hard,” she said, noting that they’d celebrated post-tussle with a bottle of champagne.)

She also revealed that she hadn’t seen Jane Eyre yet - not for any lack of faith in the film, but because she finds it hard to watch her performances while they are so fresh in her mind. “I prefer [watching one of my films] if I have more distance from that film. I haven’t even seen Room With a View yet!”

Anyone hoping for some dirt on where M and James Bond will be heading in Bond 23 was out of luck. “I can’t tell you any single thing about it,” she said. “I’m not allowed. You take a little vow. When the script was delivered to me, it was delivered by a man completely dressed in black. He just gave me the script and left. It’s very secretive.”

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