Film Scouts Diaries

2003 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
CZECHING A FEW STEPS IN KARLOVY VARY - Step 4 -- The Festival trailer, and other films

by Henri Béhar

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic, July 10 -- The most widely seen movie here - with twenty-times-a-day re-viewings - is the Festival trailer. Every year, the Karlovy Vary Festival honchos call upon a different eminent Czech film director to shoot the little piece that will open each screening.

It is a crucial element of the Festival, for both the organizers and the audiences. For the former, whatever theme the elected director comes up with will determine the very essence of the festival's campaign, visuals and all. So much so that the audiences (which, hopefully, won't get tired of seeing the same piece over and over again), often refer to a festival as 'It was the Year of the Cat', or 'the Year of the Singing Trio"… The trailer directors have often played with motifs from the silent movie era, or the golden age of Czech pre-world war 2 film – which most of them are way too young even to remember, as the list includes Jan Sverak (the year of the cat), the 1997 winner of the Best Foreign Language Oscar winner for Kolya; Jan Hrebejk, the director of this year's Czech competition entry, Pupendo, and David Ondricek, son of famous cinematographer and early Milos Forman "visualizer" Miroslav Ondricek.

Last year, Ondricek added a new twist to the proceedings. Afraid the audiences might get jaded, if not downright pissed-off, he came up with several variations of a comical performance by a fictional band, the Tros Sketos, that was half-vaudeville half-farmhands on a drunken spree. The trailers proved so popular that on closing night, the main jury, headed by actor Jean-Marc Barr and tailed by critic Roger Ebert, schlupped onto the stage as the New Sketos.

This year's trailer, directed by Petr Zelenka, who last year won the grand prize with his mock rockumentary, Year of the Devil, has a little boy (a boy and a girl in one of the variations) sneaking into a theatre after closing time and discovering the old janitor performing, on stage, a very freely choreographed - and very naked - number, to the wild musical twirls of Peer Gynt.

Think this year's jury will be game enough to come on stage as the Naked Janitors?

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