The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which kicks off its 38th edition this week, will honour Morgan Freeman and British director Stephen Frears, with awards for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema.

Festival organisers remain guarded concerning other celebrity guests' attendance, however, mindful of the previous two years' disappointments at last-minute cancellations. The festival had received a commitment from Susan Sarandon to attend, but in an interview on Thursday the festival's artistic director, Eva Zaoralova, told Screen Daily that it was far from certain that the American actress would appear.

Last year, Sean Connery cancelled his appearance at the last minute, citing health reasons, even though he was only two hours away by car, in Prague. The incident caused some embarrassment, coming as it did one year after Michael Caine cancelled his appearance at the annual event to receive an award.

Freeman is scheduled to present Lawrence Kasdan's Dreamcatcher and receive a Crystal Globe, while Frears will appear to receive his prize on the festival's opening night on July 4, Zaoralova said.

In addition, legendary Czech director Jiri Menzel (Closely Watched Trains) will received a Crystal Globe Lifetime Achievement Award.

Also expected are John Hurt, who will accompany the film Owning Mahoney, along with the director, Richard Kwietniowsky (Love And Death On Long Island); French director Alain Corneau, presenting his film Fear And Trembling, along with its star, Sylvie Testud; French director Jean-Claude Brisseau, who presents Secret Things with actress Sabrina Seyvecou; and actor Udo Kier, presenting Lars von Trier's Dogville. Kier also stars in another festival title, Mrs Meitlemeihr.

The festival opens on July 4 with a screening of Jan Hrebejk's local smash Pupendo, closing on July 12 with It Runs In The Family, with one of the members of the starring Douglas family rumoured to be considering an appearance.

Michael Douglas attended the festival to receive an Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema in 1998.