The 53rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (June 29 - July 7) has unveiled the competition titles in its Official Selection, East of the West and Documentary sections.
Scroll down for full line-ups
The 12-strong main competition will comprise ten world premieres and two international premieres, including ”I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians” from Romanian filmmaker Radu Jude, whose 2012 title Everybody In Our Family won best film at the Sarajevo Film Festival.
Other films in competition include Ana Katz’s family drama Sueño Florianópolis, The Fireflies Are Gone from Canadian filmmaker Sébastien Pilote, Zoology director Ivan Tverdovsky’s Jumpman and Peter Brunner’s Austro-American drama To The Night starring Caleb Landry Jones.
Israeli director Joseph Madmony returns to KVIFF for the third time with drama Redemption, co-directed by cinematographer Boaz Y. Yakov.
East of the West
This year seven of the 12 films in the East of the West strand will be directed by women.
These include Czech director Beata Parkanová’s debut Moments and Via Carpatia, the debut film by Polish director Klara Kochańska (winner of a student Oscar) and co-director Kasper Bajon. The other Czech film in the section is Tomáš Pavlíček’s comedy Bear with Us.
The 12-strong documentary strand features eight world premieres, including Putin’s Witnesses from previous KVIFF winner Vitaly Mansky and Bridges Of Time, a documentary essay by Kristīne Briede and Lithuanian director Audrius Stonys.
KVIFF 2018 Line-up
Synopses provided by festival
Official Selection – Competition
“I Do Not Care If We Go Down In History As Barbarians”
Director: Radu Jude
Romania, Czech Republic, France, Bulgaria, Germany, 2018, 140 min, World premiere
A young artist is planning to reconstruct a historical event from 1941, during which the Romanian Army carried out ethnic cleansing on the Eastern Front. One of contemporary Europe’s most distinctive creators has come out with an ingeniously conceived film that – although the topic unfolds slowly and in detail – hits the viewer with a singular emotional punch.
Panic Attack (Panický záchvat)
Director: Paweł Maślona
Poland, 2017, 100 min, International premiere
In his blackly humorous debut, talented director Paweł Maślona has submitted a consummate answer to the question whether or not a panic attack can be translated into film language. Dramatic moments in the lives of several unfortunates living in contemporary Warsaw are here presented with refreshing playfulness and a singular knack for mixing the tragic and the comic.
The Fireflies Are Gone (La disparition des lucioles)
Director: Sébastien Pilote
Canada, 2018, 96 min, World premiere
The sleepy town where Léo lives doesn’t offer her much chance of self-fulfilment. Extricating herself from her mother’s influence and her constricting environment isn’t easy for the frustrated young woman, yet happiness might be close at hand. A stylistically precise, pop-impressionistic film about a girl’s quest to find out who she really is, featuring the captivating Karelle Tremblay in the lead role.
Director: Adam Sedlák
Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, 2018, 116 min, World premiere
Top cyclist Roman has had enough of serving as a domestique, a bicycle racer who sacrifices for the team. And since strenuous training and a strict regimen don’t lead to the type of performance he longs for, he sets up an oxygen tent at home. His obsession with having a sports career, however, renders him oblivious to his wife Šarlota’s desire to have a baby. A claustrophobic drama on the utter breakdown of a marriage almost suffocated by a machine that oxygenates the blood.
Director: Joseph Madmony, Boaz Yehonatan Yaakov
Israel, 2018, 100 min, World premiere
Being able to care for a gravely ill daughter is of the utmost importance to a loving father. The treatment which is to give the child a new chance at life is something the poorly paid widower simply can’t afford. The idea to start performing again with a rock band from his early days, however, sees the devout man confronting not only those around him but – above all – himself as well.
Director: Ömür Atay
Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria, 2017, 103 min, World premiere
Seventeen-year-old Yusuf comes home after spending four years at a detention center. His return to the family circle freshly recalls the act that his loved ones, bound by rigid tradition, forced Yusuf to commit. Directed with an assured hand, this intimate debut concerns guilt and punishment and how difficult it is to choose between blood ties and tradition on the one hand, and what is morally right on the other.
Miriam Lies (Miriam miente)
Director: Oriol Estrada, Natalia Cabral
Dominican Republic, Spain, 2018, 90 min, World premiere
Shy girl Miriam is waiting to celebrate her 15th birthday and she wants to invite her guy. So far they’ve only chatted online, and the anticipated blind date only complicates things. A gentle picture about the uncertainties of growing up, girls’ competitiveness, and the demands of others, which can be confusing when you’re young.
Director: Ivan I. Tverdovskiy
Russia, 2018, 86 min, International premiere
Young Oksana put Denis in a baby box when he was an infant. Sixteen years later she steals him away from a children’s home, intent on making amends for her neglect. Denis, however, has no idea of the heavy price to be paid for his mother’s favour: the fragile boy has one unusual quality which Oksana has no qualms about exploiting.
Director: Ana Katz
Argentina, Brazil, France, 2018, 103 min, World premiere
Lucrecia, Pedro, and their teenage kids Julian and Florencia set out from Buenos Aires one sweltering day in a rattletrap Renault to vacation in the Brazilian summer resort of Florianópolis. Renowned Argentinian director Ana Katz draws upon gentle humor and light melancholy to relate a tale of first love, past lovers, fateful encounters, and fleeting joys.
To the Night
Director: Peter Brunner
Austria, USA, 2018, 102 min, World premiere
As a child Norman survived a fire that took the rest of his family. As an adult he is still struggling with the resulting trauma, and he finds it difficult to start a new life with his girlfriend and little boy. An oppressive atmosphere, subtle hints, and spectacular images playing upon the subconscious – these are the primary attributes of this brutally intimate study of a wounded individual. Captivating Caleb Landry Jones excels in the main role.
Winter Flies (Všechno bude)
Director: Olmo Omerzu
Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Slovak Republic, 2018, 85 min, World premiere
Mischievously self-assured Mára and somewhat eccentric Heduš set out into the frozen wastes in search of adventure – by car, naturally. After all, Mára’s turning fifteen soon. A road movie about the flies that occasionally buzz around even in winter, and a story – before it ends at the police station – that tells of the elusive bond of boyhood friendship and the irrepressible desire to experience something, even if you don’t exactly know what.
History of Love (Zgodovina ljubezni)
Director: Sonja Prosenc
Slovenia, Italy, Norway, 2018, 105 min, World premiere
Seventeen-year-old Iva is in the process of coming to terms with the death of her mother. Influenced by this deep personal loss and by the discovery that she didn’t know everything about her mom, the girl slowly immerses herself into a strange, almost dreamlike world. Sonja Prosenc’s movie is dominated by a distinctive poetic that attacks the viewer’s senses, as well as by a narratively loose style and an ability to construct a story with the aid of the subtlest of suggestions.
East of the West - Competition
53 Wars (53 wojny)
Director: Ewa Bukowska
Poland, 2018, 79 min, International premiere
Anka is becoming extremely anxious about her beloved husband Witek, a war correspondent. But where does the border lie between reality and catastrophic visions? An evocative psychological drama adapted from the autobiographical novel by Grażyna Jagielska about experiencing war second-hand: we don’t have to be there for it to have a destructive influence on our lives.
Director: Nima Eghlima
Iran, 2018, 106 min, World premiere
Now in his thirties, Amir is beleaguered by other peoples’ problems. His friend Ali’s ex-wife and son have gone missing, his sister is desperately trying to break away from the family, and his parents are trying to keep the family together. Amir is a film about contemporary Iran, about a generation whose private lives are determined more by the rules of society than by their own will.
Bear with Us (Chata na prodej)
Director: Tomáš Pavlíček
Czech Republic, 2018, 77 min, World premiere
A family has decided to sell their lovely cottage as none of them has visited it for some time. Yet it holds so many nostalgic memories that the mother suggests they all spend one last day there before the sale takes place. This deliberately paced comedy, whose protagonists often remind the viewer of characters from a Jaroslav Papoušek screenplay, takes an agreeably detached view of the Czech phenomenon of weekending in the country.
Director: Beata Parkanová
Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, 2018, 95 min, World premiere
It might seem that Anežka’s life is not her own – her entire family want to get involved in every aspect of it. The young woman tries to please everyone, but she is gradually losing what is most important – herself. This confident debut deftly captures the pitfalls of life in and outside the family unit, which are interpreted with humour, understanding and a remarkably mature sense of situations we experience so often that we aren’t even conscious of them.
Director: Darya Zhuk
Belarus, Germany, USA, Russia, 2017, 95 min, World premiere
Young Evelina has a law degree, but her dream is to travel to the USA and earn a living as a professional DJ. But it’s 1997 and the girl is living in post-Soviet Minsk… This energetic debut from Belarusian director Darya Zhuk, pulsating to the rhythm of 90s house, is the opening film of this year’s East of the West competition.
Deep Rivers (Glyubokie Reki)
Director: Vladimir Bitokov
Russia, 2018, 75 min, International premiere
A stark landscape, unforgiving surroundings, gruelling work, and intense conflicts within the family circle – a vicious circle, the burden of which is only accentuated by the return of the youngest brother, who is to take the place of his sick father in this family of lumberjacks. Under the watchful eye of Aleksandr Sokurov comes another searingly vivid and visually remarkable debut with profound humanistic appeal.
Breathing Into Marble (Kvėpavimas į marmurą)
Director: Giedrė Beinoriūtė
Lithuania, Latvia, Croatia, 2018, 97 min, International premiere
The life of a three-member, middle-class family fundamentally changes with the arrival of six-year-old Ilja, a withdrawn little boy adopted from a children’s home… Debuting Lithuanian director Giedrė Beinoriūtė brings us a taut psychological drama adapted from the award-winning novel of the same name, in which she ramps up the tension in an economical yet highly effective way; her conception of the mise-en-scène is masterful as well.
Director: Tonia Mishiali
Greece, Cyprus, 2017, 96 min, World premiere
Elpida is a housewife confronted with the first signs of menopause while trapped in a loveless marriage to a heartless, despotic man. Together with the physical changes she experiences, however, her mind and her perception of reality are also gradually affected… A formally mature, muted psychological drama addressing the issues surrounding the position of women in a patriarchal society.
Suleiman Mountain (Suleiman Gora)
Director: Elizaveta Stishova
Kyrgyzstan, Russia, 2017, 101 min, European premiere
Karabas is a man who has never really grown up. He drinks too much, and he and his young pregnant wife just scrape by. When his first wife Zhipara arrives with the news that she’s found their long-lost son Uluka, a question arises: Could the fractured foursome all live together? A distinctive debut which dexterously combines a road movie with a family drama and an original comedy, thereby painting a vivid portrait of life in Kyrgyzstan.
Director: Klara Kochańska, Kasper Bajon
Poland, 2018, 71 min, World premiere
Julia and Piotr are a well-situated, middle-class married couple entertaining the idea of a dream holiday. At the request of Piotr’s mother, however, the pair set out instead on a trip across the Balkans, heading for a refugee camp on the Macedonian-Greek border. Student Academy Award holder Klara Kochańska makes her debut with an intimate, independent road movie which stands out for its subtle performances and quasi-documentary authenticity. The film was co-directed by Kasper Bajon.
Blossom Valley (Virágvölgy)
Director: László Csuja
Hungary, 2018, 83 min, World premiere
Who are the real crazies in an unhinged world? An ironic, punkily brash road movie about young lovers on the run, interwoven with poetic and realistic images. Psychotic Bianka kidnaps a child and dupes the trusting Laci into thinking that it’s his. Together they form an instant family who set off in a caravan, fleeing the law and a bunch of crooks.
Director: Roman Bondarchuk
Ukraine, Germany, 2018, 106 min, World premiere
One day Lukas, employed as an interpreter for an OSCE mission, becomes lost in the middle of the steppe in southern Ukraine. His journey towards self-recognition and happiness will be flanked by a series of strange encounters and bizarre situations… Roman Bondarchuk’s novel feature debut is a tragicomedy whose striking visuals aid him in fleshing out the colorful world of southern Ukraine, a place which still bears unmistakable traces of the distant and not-too-distant past.
DOCUMENTARY FILMS – COMPETITION
The Best Thing You Can Do with Your Life
Director: Zita Erffa
Germany, Mexico, 2018, 93 min, European premiere
Why did the director’s brother enter a conservative Roman Catholic order, causing him to sever all ties with the outside world? The shooting of this fresh, self-reflexive documentary about an eroded sibling bond becomes the pretext for long-desired personal contact and a therapeutic aid to help her heal herself.
Director: Alison McAlpine
Canada, Chile, 2017, 78 min, European premiere
After every scorching day in the Chilean desert of Atacama night falls cold, and overhead a gateway opens to the enigmatic depths of the universe. Nowhere else does the night sky shine with so many stars; nowhere else does a fixed look upward evoke so many indescribable emotions. This powerful cinematic experience prompts an irresistible urge to lie in the grass and look up at the stars.
Director: Marouan Omara, Johanna Domke
Germany, Egypt, Qatar, 2018, 86 min, World premiere
It hasn’t been so very long since rich tourists from around the world came to stay in the luxury hotels of Sharm El Sheikh. But the Arab Spring and the confusion of the post revolutionary period quickly robbed the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula of its charm as a go-to summer resort. Saturated with elements of surreal fiction, the documentary takes us to a shimmering city of ghosts to visit its last inhabitants – resort employees who feverishly dream among the abandoned hotel suites.
In the Stillness of Sounds (L’ esprit des lieux)
Director: Stéphane Manchematin, Serge Steyer
France, 2018, 90 min, European premiere
Marc Namblard, whose profession combines his talents as a biologist and a sound engineer, well knows that nature has overwhelming sedative effects, particularly in terms of its acoustic dimension. A discourse on the tranquillity of the forest that permeates the very heart of man, this documentary cultivates our ability to observe, and, if we half-close our eyes, the viewing experience will be all the greater.
Bridges of Time (Laika tilti)
Director: Audrius Stonys, Kristīne Briede
Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, 2018, 80 min, World premiere
Kristīne Briede and Audrius Stonys’s meditative documentary essay portrays the less-remembered generation of cinema poets of the Baltic New Wave. With finesse, they push beyond the barriers of the common historiographic investigation in order to achieve a consummate poetic treatment of the ontology of documentary creation.
A Little Wisdom
Director: Yuqi Kang
Canada, Nepal, China, 2017, 92 min, European premiere
An isolated Buddhist monastery in southern Nepal not only provides refuge for monks, but also for orphans up to the age of sixteen. Far removed from civilisation, the boys learn about strict discipline and order yet, like all children, they hanker after adventure. An observational documentary which captures both the routine of the passing days and the vagaries of boyhood.
Breaking News (Mimořádná zpráva)
Director: Tomáš Bojar
Czech Republic, 2018, 75 min, World premiere
A carefully composed observation of two newsrooms which, in March 2017, were avidly chasing after information about the Czech president’s decision whether or not to run for re-election. Two teams of reporters, one extraordinary event, and two takes on one “objective” piece of news.
Putin’s Witnesses (Svideteli Putina)
Director: Vitaly Mansky
Latvia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, 2018, 102 min, World premiere
On December 31, 1999 Vladimir Putin ascended to the president’s chair in Russia. In his latest picture renowned documentarist Vitaly Mansky draws on witness accounts of the events that happened in the years following that fateful day. He then rounds it out with his own fascinating perspective and with the longtime unique experience of a man whom only a movie camera separated from upper echelon politics.
Director: Cyril Aris
Lebanon, 2018, 74 min, World premiere
Viviane and Antoine have lived together for 65 years, and while she still has her strength, he has long been bedridden. And so no one is able or has any desire to tell the weakened old man the distressing news that his beloved daughter has suddenly died. Indeed, the grief might cause his death… A heavy, lyrical portrait brightened by the warming rays of loved ones’ smiles.
Inside Mosul (V Mosulu)
Director: Jana Andert
Czech Republic, 2018, 70 min, World premiere
A shock therapy of news coverage from the war front. Documentarist Jana Andert spent eight months with an elite Iraqi Army unit on the front lines of the battle for Mosul, occupied by Islamic State fighters from 2014 to June 2017. An unflinching report from a city in ruins, robbed of its soul by one of the worst catastrophes of modern times.
Director: Daniel Zimmermann
Switzerland, Austria, 2018, 100 min, World premiere
Gentle birdsong filters through dense forest vegetation only to be drowned out by the sudden roar of chainsaws. Thus begins a documentary comprising a mere thirteen 360° panning shots, whose uncompromising formal concept places great demands on the patient viewer. But as soon as we align our breathing with the slow rhythm of the shots a surprising odyssey opens out before us of the paradoxical migration of wood from Austrian forests to a secret, far-off destination.
Treasure Island (L’Île au trésor)
Director: Guillaume Brac
France, 2018, 97 min, World premiere
The summer season at a recreation center near Paris is in full swing, so there is no shortage of amusing situations at the crowded swimming pool. A glimpse into the mindset of the visitors and employees of the extensive park – original French inhabitants and immigrants who come here to relax because they lack the means for a more exotic vacation.