The female-directed films to watch at Karlovy Vary, the biggest film festival in Central Europe

GiF Prague founder Julie Zackova shares what she's looking forward to at this year's KVIFF

Julie Zackova
June 20, 2018

Founded in 1946, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is one of the oldest film festivals in Europe and one of the key film events for Central and Eastern European film industry, as it turns its focus on highlighting films from these regions. It's paired in the Afestivals group together with giants like Cannes, Berlinale and Venice and although Karlovy Vary doesn't have an industry market, it's become one of the crucial meeting places for international filmmakers.

This year, the festival is taking place between from 29th of June to 7th July, with the picturesque spa town of Karlovy Vary serving as its main playground. Girls in Film Prague’s Julie Zackova will be representing us there, moderating a panel on women in cinema, which is organised by the Czech Film Fund and will be held on Sunday July 1st at Industry Pool area.

Ahead of the festival, Julie shares her tips on some of the female-directed film highlights that were selected this year.

And Breathe Normally / Andið eðlilega/ dir. Ísold Uggadóttir

The Sundance Directing award winner by a debuting Icelandic director is something that I have been looking forward to for some time now. Rough Icelandic landscape, intriguing camerawork by Polish cinematographer Ita Zbroniec-Zaj and two main leads finding themselves in unforeseen circumstances together create a mix that definitely stirs my interest!

Fugue / Fuga / dir. Agnieszka Smoczynska

Agnieszka Smoczynska’s debut The Lure definitely was a wild cinematic ride: two vampiric mermaids found themselves in an 80’s Poland’s nightclub in a colorful horror musical. So I can't wait what her seemingly also dark but definitely less whimsical sophomore feature Fugue will bring. One thing is for sure - Agnieszka’s sense for visuals and atmosphere will definitely not disappoint. The film was co-produced by Czech producer Karla Stojakova at Axman Production and was screened at this year’s Semaine de la Critique in Cannes.

Miriam Lies / Miriam Miente / dir. Natalia Cabral, Oriol Estrada

One of the selected films in the main competition, “Miriam Lies” promises a lyrical coming-of-age drama centering on a young girl struggling to reveal to her parents that a boyfriend she met online is black. The director duo met during their studies at a film school and have since been working together on numerous projects. Their previous documentary film “Tu y Yo” competed at various festivals, including Nyon’s Visions du Reel.

Rafiki / dir. Wanuri Kahiu

The first Kenyan film that ever competed at Cannes film festival is a love story between two women. It was banned in Kenya on grounds of homosexuality being illegal in the country. This is an important film, targeted at portraying modern day Africa and meant to disrupt the stereotypes often employed in mainstream films that are set there. “We spent a lot of time talking about devastation, war, disease.. it’s high time we started talking about love,” comments Wanuri Kahiu in an online interview for MPasho

History of Love / Zgodovina ljubezni / dir. Sonja Prosenc

Slovenian director Sonja Prosenc returns to Karlovy Vary with her second film after her debut feature Drevo (The Tree) competed at the festival in 2014. This time in the main competition, the KVIFF programmers promise “a distinctively poetic [story] that attacks the viewer’s senses” and tells a story of a 17-year-old Iva who is coming to terms with the death of her mother.

Touch Me Not / dir. Adina Pintille

The winner of this year’s Golden Bear at Berlinale was co-produced by the Czech production company Pink production. Adina Pintille’s first narrative feature film tackles the borders of intimacy, whilst also blurring the lines between genres, as it seems to oscillate between documentary and fiction. A debut concentrating on the perception of human bodies divides audiences and is definitely something to keep an eye on.

Happy as Lazzaro / Lazzaro Felice / dir. Alice Rohrwacher

I am very excited about the new Alice Rohwacher film, especially since her previous Le Meraviglie (The Wonders) was such a stunning feat. This year’s best screenplay winner from Cannes is one of the highlights of our screening list, as we are hoping for another out-of-this world cinema experience, which looks to answer the question if friendship can travel through time.

Crystal Swan / Khrustal / dir. Darya Zhuk

Shot in a square format, Darya Zhuk's Crystal Swan promises to be a playful debut. The film tells a story of a young girl Evelina living in post-Soviet Minsk who decides to travel to the USA and in order to obtain visa, she needs to prove to officials that she has a permanent job. Opening the East of the West competition, Darya Zhuk’s film promises humour, as well as an intriguing central character portrayed by an aspiring actress Alina Nasibullina. In an interview for Close-Up Culture, Darya expressed her desire for future films to “[give] women an empowered and original voice on screen.”

Czech female directors are represented by Beata Parkanová and her debut Chvilky (Moments), Klara Tasovska, working in duo with Lukas Kokes and screening their latest documentary feature Nic jako dřív (Nothing Like Before) and Jana Andert, competing in the documentary section with her film V Mosulu (In Mosul).