57th International Film Festival Karlovy Vary

30.06.2023 to 08.07.2023
Karlovy Vary

Stefan Komandarev's film "Blaga's Lessons" is the big winner at Karlovy Vary 2023, taking the Crystal Globe and the Ecumenical Jury Award, and its lead actress Eli Skorcheva being honoured as Best Actress. Tinatin Kajrishvili's "Citizen Saint" received an Commendation from the Ecumenical Jury. Another winner is "The Hypnosis" (Sweden, Norway, France 2023) by Ernst De Geer, which received the Fipresci Jury Award, the Europe Cinema Label Award and the Best Actor Award (Herbert Nordrum).

The 57th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opened on 30 June with the period drama "Firebrand" by Karim Aïnouz. The festival screened the film, which premiered at the 2023 Cannes Festival, as a tribute to actress Alicia Vikander, who was awarded the Festival President's Prize. Ewan McGregor, Robin Wright and Daniela Kolářová are honoured with this special award as well. At the opening, Russell Crowe was also awarded a Crystal Globe for lifetime achievement.

The Ecumenical Jury, which accompanies the festival since 1994, awarded its prize to one of the 11 films in the International Competition. As a second competition section, the Proxima Competition for cinematic discoveries was established in 2022, dedicated to newcomers and innovative works by established directors; it replaced the former "East of the West" competition. The extensive "Horizons" section shows outstanding films of the recent past. The retrospective "Out of the Past" included several works by Jean-Luc Godard, who died in September 2022, especially one of his most famous films, "Le mépris" (Contempt) from 1963.

Link: Festival website


Blaga's Lessons
Directed by:

As if that weren't enough, a 70-year-old widow literally throws her money over the balcony into the hands of scammers who pressured her over the phone. The woman now also lacks the urgently needed money to finance the tomb for her recently deceased husband and herself. She, who has fought hard all her life, does not lose sight of this goal and in the process becomes a perpetrator herself: in a criminal way, she inflicts what she has experienced on others. Until the very last minute of the film, we viewers believe that the protagonist is experiencing a cathartic moment and regrets her actions. But Blaga remains true to her strong beliefs and seems to have no choice but to act immorally. The fate of that woman reflects the plight of older people in post-communist or market-economy-capitalist Bulgaria, who often no longer know who they can rely on between their struggle for survival, corruption and exploitation. This is exacerbated by a religiously motivated fear for her husband's salvation. This film convinced the jury because it tells the relationship between individual responsibility and social norms with a poignancy that makes it difficult for us to feel sympathy for the protagonist, played outstandingly by Eli Skorcheva, and yet makes us want to ask if we would act like her.

Citizen Saint
Directed by:

A village in a barren Georgian mining region worships a heavily weathered saint. Suddenly it seems to have come alive. Miracles happen, the lame walk, lost miners appear to their relatives and every Bible-savvy viewer believes they have seen or heard all of this before. But this film is not simply a retelling of the New Testament. Rather, it raises an essential and quite self-critical question of Christian religion: Why do we worship the dead, immobile, interchangeable instead of the living? Do we want to live or survive? For this and for its exceptional visual, aesthetic and musical design, the Ecumenical Jury awards a Commendation to “Citizen Saint” by Tinatin Kajrishvili.

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