Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Poster. Source: Karlovy Vary Film Festival
24 Years of Iranian Cinema at Karlovy Vary
by Kaveh Daneshmand, Mehdi Pilehvarian
With a history that goes back to 1946, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is one of the oldest film festivals in the world. For many years now, the festival has been considered one of the most important and well-awaited annual celebrations of arthouse cinema along the festival circuit. Every edition of the festival has brought a long list of great works from across the universe to the beautiful spa town of Karlovy Vary in the heart of Europe.
With an evident focus on central and Eastern European cinematography, it is no secret that the festival has been hugely famous for its true discovery of some of the greatest talents of cinema. The artistic team behind the festival, driven forward under the strong and intelligent leadership of Karel Och, has proven extremely well that the festival has an unending appetite for exquisite cinema.
Until 2019 and for the last 24 years, the festival has included some of the greatest works of art from Iran in its program. Some of the most internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmakers such as Ali Mosaffa or Abdolreza Kahani have been celebrated and recognized by Karlovy Vary with their works having gained a lot of attention within the festival program.
(1) BIST (TWENTY) by Abdolreza Kanahi (2) The Last Step by Ali Mosaffa. Source: IMDb.com
With a sharp focus on young filmmakers, the festival has recognized the early works of some of the renowned names of Iranian cinema such as Mani Haghighi (Men at Work), Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart), Ali Mosaffa (Portrait of a Lady Far Away), Samira Makhmalbaf (The Apple), Rafi Pitts (Sanam) and Parviz Shahbazi (Traveller from the South) whose later works were hailed internationally and proved that the festival has a true power and understanding of discovering outstanding talents.
Moreover, a long list of Iranian artists have been celebrated and awarded in different editions of the festival over the last two decades. The list includes some of the most hailed figures of Iranian cinematography such as Leila Hatami (Best Actress for The Last Step), Abdolreza Kahani (Special Jury Prize for Twenty), Hamid Farrokhnezhad (Best Actor for The Bride of Fire) and Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Special Jury Prize for Once Upon a Time, Cinema).
The Last Step (2012). Source: KVIFF & CiCinema.com
In addition, some of the critically acclaimed names of Iranian cinematography have served as jury members in various editions of Karlovy Vary Film Festival in the past. Abbas Kiarostami led the jury festival in 2000 for its 35th edition and artists such as Jafar Panahi, Niki Karimi and Leila Hatami were members of the festival jury in the past editions.
The 54th edition of the festival which takes place from the 1st to 9th of July in 2019, will be the first time in many years that the official program does not include any Iranian titles. After almost a quarter of a century, Iranian filmmakers and artists will miss the great opportunity to screen their films to some of the most enthusiastic festival audiences and film professionals who gather in Czech Republic to celebrate the art of independent cinema.
Kalovy Vary Film Festival Poster 2019 Source: KVIFF
For 53 editions, Karlovy Vary has strived to bring brave and bold works of cinematography to its visitors; works that have pushed the film language and the art of storytelling in significant ways. It is FCC’s sincere hope to see a quick return of Iranian cinema to this outstanding feast of films in the upcoming editions of the festival.
May the force be with Iranian artists.