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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has been classified by FIAPF as a "non-specialized festival with a feature film competition" (category A). In fulfilling its basic role the festival has become a place where film lovers and filmmakers can meet and where everyone can enjoy high quality films made during the past year from around the world. Because of its success in the past few years the Karlovy Vary festival has become the most significant film event in Central and Eastern Europe.

The festival is held in Karlovy Vary, also known as Carlsbad.


The Karlovy Vary film festival is one of the oldest in the world. The pre-war dream of many enthusiastic filmmakers materialized in 1946 when in Mariánské lázně and Karlovy Vary a non-competition festival of films from seven countries took place. Above all it was intended to screen the results of the recently nationalized Czechoslovak film industry. After the first two years the festival moved permanently to Karlovy Vary.

For several decades after the Communist takeover in February 1948 the festival was entirely under the control of the then current political establishment. The period in which the selection of films, the conferral of awards, and the invitation of guests took place in the spirit of Communist propaganda alternated with other less restrictive eras such as the sixties in which the festival program was able to offer the latest artistic trends making their way in both Czechoslovak and world cinematography (including the West). Legendary festivals filled with stars and absolute gems of films gave way to other years which, due to the bombastic and ubiquitous socialist rhetoric, nearly caused the complete loss of the festival audience.

With regard to the Karlovy Vary IFF, the great social and political changes that took place after November 1989 pushed concerns about organizing the festival to the background. The program for 1990 was saved by the release of a collection of Czechoslovak films which had been locked up for years in a storage vault. And the appearance of a number of important international guests such as Miloš Forman and Lindsey Anderson helped as well. Future festivals were in doubt. Financial problems and a lack of interest on the part of the government, organizers and viewers almost ended the festival's long tradition in 1992.

In 1994 the 29th Karlovy Vary IFF inaugurated an entirely new tradition. After nearly forty years of alternating with the Moscow IFF, the festival began once again to take place every year. The Karlovy Vary Film Festival Foundation was set up in 1993 co-created by the Ministry of Culture, The City of Karlovy Vary, and the Grand Hotel Pupp. Actor Jiří Bartoška was invited to be the festival's president, and Eva Zaoralová became program director in 1995. Since 1998 the organization of the festival has been carried out by Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary, a joint stock company.


The core of the program is the feature film competition; in accordance with FIAPF regulations only those films which have not been shown in competition at any other international festivals can be included. The documentary competition is another important festival event. The extensive informative program features both distribution pre-premiers and films awarded at other festivals. But it also includes discoveries of artistic creations by independent directors, productions coming out of little known film industries, retrospectives, and an overview of Czech film output during the past year. For the third straight year the festival will present Variety Critics' Choice: new and interesting films of mainly European production selected by critics working at this prestigious magazine.
Seminars focusing primarily on European film are another important part of the festival.

Thousands of visitors and the great variety of films testify to the effectiveness of the program team with program director Eva Zaoralová at its head. Due to their valiant efforts many films will be purchased at the festival for wider distribution or, thanks to receiving a festival award, will attract the attention of major producers, distributors, and the media.

The festival program is comprised of the following sections:
Competition of feature-length films - films never before shown in competition at any other international festival.
Documentary Film Competition - a competition divided into two parts: films less than and longer than 30 minutes. Horizons-pre-premiers of films bought for wider distribution, and films awarded at other festivals.
Another View - works experimenting with form and content, or those revealing an uncommon creative approach.
Forum of Independents - more than just "independent" American filmmakers.
East of the West - films from the former socialist bloc.
Czech Films - an overview of Czech films made during the past year.
Retrospectives - several thematic retrospectives presenting the work of a certain world-renowned film personality, a particular period, or a selection of works chosen according to specific criteria.


The Karlovy Vary IFF first held an international film competition in 1948. Since 1951 an international jury has evaluated the films. The Karlovy Vary competition quickly found a place among other developing festivals and by 1956 FIAPF had already classified Karlovy Vary as a category A festival. Given the creation of the Moscow IFF and the political decision to organize only one "A" festival for all socialist countries, Karlovy Vary was forced to alternate with Moscow between 1959 and 1993.

Since the very beginning the Grand Prize has been the Crystal Globe-although its form has often changed. As of the 35th Karlovy Vary IFF 2000 the Crystal Globe has taken on a new look: now the figure of a woman stands raising a crystal ball (artistic concept worked out by Tono Stano, Aleš Najbrt, Michal Caban, and Šimon Caban).

The Feature Film Competition is divided into the following main awards:
Grand Prix - Crystal Globe for best feature film (grand total $20,000)
Special Jury Prize
Best Director Award
Best Actress Award
Best Actor Award

The Documentary Competition is divided into the following main awards:
Best Documentary Film in the category for film lasting 30 minutes or less
Best Documentary Film in the category for film lasting above 30 minutes in length

Each year the festival also presents the Crystal Globe for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema.

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