Karlovy Vary’s artistic director Karel Och and executive director Krystof Mucha discuss what they are particularly looking forward to in this year’s programme

What is special about this year’s line-up?

Karel Och: We’re putting more emphasis on the East of the West competition. Karlovy Vary’s strong point is the focus on films from Central and Eastern Europe so this competition is and should be the flagship of our programme. This year we have an especially interesting group of promising young film-makers from the region. Almost every film is a world, international or European premiere.

In the main competition, we have a melodrama [Igor Voloshin’s Russian title Bedouin], which is a genre people either love or hate, but this film offers so much more. There’s a film completely without dialogue [Pascal Rabate’s French title Not For Sale Not For Rent], so we’ll see how that works with the audience. And this year we have two German films in the main competition [Christian Schwochow’s The Invisible — a world premiere — and Ziska Riemann’s Lollipop Monster], which is two more than last year.

Which other territories are represented in the programme?

Och: We’re doing a spotlight on young Greek directors, and Canada is a very strong territory [this year]. In the last two or three years, there have been a lot of strong Canadian films throughout the programme and particularly in the Forum of Independents. This year is no exception. We have a very fresh and unusual mockumentary from Canada, [Aaron Houston’s Sunflower Hour, a world premiere]. And we have a retrospective of the films of Denis Villeneuve.

We also have Laurentia, from debut film-makers Simon Lavoie and Mathieu Denis, which will have its world premiere out of competition. It’s the story of a young man in Quebec who doesn’t know what to do with his life or even who he is. He only knows he doesn’t want to be like his neighbour, and he deals with this in a very unusual way. This film will probably provoke some extreme reactions, so we can’t wait for the discussion.

Karlovy Vary audiences are very eager to interact with film-makers. Why do you think this is?

Krystof Mucha: Part of it is age. Our audiences are typically very young. And they’re really interested in film. Many of them are film students and they want to see films and meet directors and learn from them. They come to Karlovy Vary
year after year on a sort of cultural holiday.

We want to let our audience know we’re open to their ideas. The audience is one of the most important things for Karlovy Vary. We’re interested in knowing what they want to see, so this year we’re working with the Czech movie portal CSFD.cz, which is like a local version of IMDb. We will present CSFD users with our programme line-up and some explanations of why we chose these films. We want to be in touch with users and hear what they think about the films we’re screening. We’ll then invite 20 of the most active users to a June 16 preview of one film from our programme. Those users will also come to the festival.

Krystof, you’re a producer in your own right. How does that inform the service Karlovy Vary offers the international film industry?

Mucha: I’m only making my second feature, so I’m not such an experienced producer, but I think I know a few things about what producers need.

For example, while we don’t have a market we do have an industry office, which helps producers meet who they want to meet. That’s easier to do in Karlovy Vary than in Cannes, for example. Our festival centre is compact so it’s easy to meet film-makers and people from other festivals. We invite producers and we treat them well.

Karel Och

Och joined the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in 2001.

Before taking over as artistic director this year, he programmed the festival’s documentary competition as well as retrospectives on Sam Peckinpah, Powell and Pressburger and New Hollywood.

Krystof Mucha

Mucha began working for Karlovy Vary in 1997, becoming executive director in 2004.

He is also a producer, having worked on David Ondricek’s Grandhotel and the director’s upcoming In The Shadows.