Film Scouts Diaries

2008 Karlovy Vary Film Festival Diaries
Diary #3: Celebrations

by Henri Béhar

Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, July 7, 2008 – This year's edition of the Karlovy Vary International Festival may be its "43rd" But more importantly, it celebrates the 40th anniversary of what was called the Prague Spring ("socialism with a human face") and the surge of creative freedom it represented before Russian tanks drove into Prague in the dead of night and quelched it. The Czechoslovakian New Wave was nearly crushed – emphasis on "nearly". Some of its luminaries moved to the United States (Milos Forman and this year's jury president, Ivan Passer, of Intimate Lighting fame), others stayed: Vera Chytilová, Dusan Hanák, Juraj Jakubisko, whose latest opus, Bathory, focuses on the famous vampire-countess. It seemed only fitting for the Festival to honor them

Along with other tributes to such artists as Mexican director Arturo Ripstein, American documentary auteur Les Blank, and British-born Nicholas Roeg (Bad Timing and Performance, with Mick Jagger, are among the six or seven of his works shown here), the Festival has also dedicated a whole section – "New Hollywood 2" – to American films that have been impacted by – and are testimonies to – the socio-cultural upheaval of the late '60s - early '70s. A selection that includes Robert Altman's McCabe & Ms Miller, Hal Ashby's Last Detail, Paul Mazursky's Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice William Friedkin's French Connection, Martin Scorsese's New York, New York, and Noel Black rarely seen gem, Pretty Poison, starring – be still my heart -- Tuesday Weld! (If you are not unconditionally crazy about Miss Weld, don't call yourself a film lover). Seeing these films again feels like reuniting with old friends you haven't seen in a long while and discovering that, despite the passing of time, they have lost nothing of their sharpness, beauty and élan.

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