Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

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Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
47. KVIFF, vstup do Termálu.JPG
Red carpet at Thermal hotel during 47th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
Location Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
Founded 1946
Awards Crystal Globe
Number of films 207 in 2010

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (Czech: Mezinárodní filmový festival Karlovy Vary) is a film festival held annually in July in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad), Czech Republic. The Karlovy Vary Festival gained worldwide recognition over the past years and has become one of Europe's major film events.


Sharon Stone at 40th MFF KV

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 a non-competition festival of films from seven countries took place in Mariánské Lázně and Karlovy Vary. 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 political establishment. Periods in which the selection of films, the conferral of awards, and the invitation of guests were dominated by Communist propaganda alternated with less restrictive periods, such as the sixties, in which the festival program was able to offer the latest artistic trends in both Czechoslovak and world cinema, including the West. Festivals with international stars and noteworthy films gave way to others filled with bombastic socialist rhetoric, which nearly caused the complete loss of the festival audience.

The great social and political changes that took place after the Velvet Revolution in November 1989 pushed concerns about organizing the Karlovy Vary IFF 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, Lindsay Anderson, Annette Bening and Robert De Niro 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.


Robert De Niro at 43rd festival (2008)

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 an 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 tenth 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 has 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: documentaries less than and longer than 30 minutes.
  • Horizons – pre-premieres 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.

Festivals guests[edit]

Crystal Globe Winners – Grand Prix[edit]

Main article: Crystal Globe

External links[edit]