This month's Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (July 4-12) in the Czech Republic boasts a diverse line-up of more than 200 local and international films.
The diversity is most evident in the main competition where titles battling for the Crystal Globe include the world premieres of Michaela Pavlatova's Czech drama Night Owls and Zrinko Ogresta's Croatian romance Behind The Glass, along with Zhang Chi's The Shaft, Tom Schreiber's Dr Aleman and Henrik Ruben Genz's Terribly Happy from outside the region.
The world premiere of the $17m English-language period drama Bathory starring Anna Friel - one of the most expensive Czech films ever made - will be held as part of a tribute to the film's director, Juraj Jakubisko.
Situated in a picturesque Czech spa town, Karlovy Vary does not have an official market and few deals are done. Instead, international guests say they enjoy the relaxed pace of the festival, renewing contacts and catching the films they missed at Cannes.
'Unlike Cannes, Karlovy Vary is not about fashion and expensive shoes, but always has good audiences in a great mood,' says regular attendee Christine Daoudova, sales manager for Berlin-based distributor Eastern European Acquisition Pool (Eeap).
'Karlovy Vary is a strong film festival, especially for Eastern European films,' says Shaz Bennett, associate director of programming for Los Angeles' AFI Fest. 'Generally I focus on the Another View, East of the West and Forum of Independents sections, which have been strong year after year.'
Charlie Cockey, the European film programmer for San Jose's Cinequest film festival, is another regular at Karlovy Vary. 'Since it usually has a strong line-up of representatives from the various films, it's good for me because I can get personal contact with the people with whom I will be dealing later,' he says.
The festival's industry office presents an annual panel of works in progress from Eastern and Central Europe. This year it has a new panel, Interfacing with Hollywood for Development, Production and Marketing of your Movies, in which US industry figures will impart advice to the talent from the East of the West selection.
Berlinale programme delegate Nikolaj Nikitin calls the works-in-progress panel 'an absolute must. In the past I was introduced to new projects (at the panel) that really thrilled me, including Ognjen Svilicic's Armin, which made it into the Berlinale programme. We had an especially strong Czech year in 2007, having Czech films in all the sections.'