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Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Karlovy Vary Film Festival

It’s nowadays the most important film festival in Eastern Europe, only competing for that status with Moscow and St. Petersburg festivals. Created in 1946 after the nationalization of the film industry and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Propaganda in Czechoslovakia at the time, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is recognized as one of the major in the world circuit after its nearly 70 years of history.

When the Soviet regime took control of Czechoslovakia in 1948, it changed the course of the festival. In the beginning, films of all Western European countries and the United States used to take part, however, when communism dominated the country's politics, so did the festival, thereby influencing the films selection and awards and a very few movies from western directors were included. That same year the festival also began to give its highest award: The Crystal Globe.

Luis Minarro

Luis Miñarro and director Agustí Vila
holding a Crystal Globe

Crisis in the communism era

Between the 60s and the 70s, the festival had its ups and downs. With the support and the opportunities given to films from the third world, the event gained some international importance for which it was considered among the Class A festivals by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (IFFPA). Unfortunately, in 1959, the Soviet Union decided to have only one Class A festival within its territory, which for obvious reasons was granted to Moscow, leaving Karlovy Vary in the background.

In the last decades of the communism era, the festival continued its declining path. The obvious stories of social-realism in movies did not attract the attention of media and international critics, and it wasn’t until the fall of the Soviet Union that new winds of change blown to revitalize the event.

The Festival after the USSR

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the festival faced its worst crisis due to a lack of funds. However, due to initiatives of the Ministry of Culture, the City Council and private support, the Karlovy Vary Film Festival managed to continue to be held on annual basis, offering itself as the perfect platform for Eastern and Western cultures to present their films thanks to the strategic geographical position the Czech Republic enjoys.

By the mid-90s the festival popularity raised its high again with nearly six thousand accreditations for guests, including directors, producers, distributors, critics, actors and journalists. Among the most important personalities who helped to promote the festival again were Robert de Niro, Gregory Peck, Alan Alda, Whoopi Goldberg, Pierre Richard and Salma Hayek.

Among the most important films that have gone through The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the last decade are Christophe Barratier’s The Chorus (2004), Caroline Link’s Nowhere in Africa (2001), and one of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s masterpieces: Amelie (2001).

Return to Eurofestival

Watch our report on Karlovy Vary in 2010


Amelie Poulain



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