Karlovy Vary 2024: Award Winners, Breakouts, Oscar Contenders

The 58th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (June 28 to July 6) boasted not one but two competitions, the Crystal Globe and Proxima, presided over by the festival president Jiří Bartoška, artistic director Karel Och, and executive director Kryštof Mucha. The festival is the main summer event in the country, which attracts many sponsors and patrons who want to attend, and faces none of the financial hardships of such festivals as Berlin, Toronto, and Sundance. 130 films are shown, with 140,000 tickets sold. There is no room for growth, given the limited venues, from the many screening rooms at the festival hub, the Hotel Thermal, where juror Christine Vachon mixed Negronis for her fellow jurors between screenings, to the colorful arthouse Kino Drahomira, named after a revered Czech woman director.

The Eastern European festival falls between Cannes and Venice, and programs many films in its Crystal Globe Competition that did not make the cut at Cannes, as well as films that weren’t yet finished. Winning a top prize at KVIFF also adds luster to a film’s release trajectory. And visiting celebrities such as Steven Soderbergh, who participated in the Kafka retrospective with his films “Kafka” and “Mr. Kneff,” and Nicole Holofcener, who showed three of her films, enjoy their time at the festival, from gala dinners at the Hotel Pupp and Hotel Promenada, to after hours hanging at the basement Becher’s Bar at the Pupp, which inspired Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

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This year’s prizes were not expected. The Grand Prix, The Crystal Globe, went to a visually rich documentary about little-known Scottish painter Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, “A Sudden Glimpse into Deeper Things.” The $25,000 cash prize will be shared by Scottish-Irish writer-director Mark Cousins and producers Adam Dawtry and Mary Bell; the film will go on to play the fall festival circuit. Cousins likes bringing his films to KVFF partly because the festival opens up any available seats to the public right before the screening starts, thus filling up the house. He figures 2000 people saw his film at the festival— a good start for positive word of mouth.

Lilja Ingolfsdottir’s debut feature, intense Norwegian relationship drama “Loveable” (Nordisk, October 2024) won the Special Jury Prize ($15,000), along with Best Actress for theater veteran Helga Guren’s naked performance as an insecure wife afraid of losing her husband. Much like last year’s “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Loveable” is based on the turbulent marriage of the writer-director and her husband (cinematographer Øystein Mamen) and played well at the festival to a rousing standing ovation.

Norway’s likely Oscar submission is Un Certain Regard title “Armand,” directed by the grandson of Ingmar Bergman, Halfdan Ullmann Tøndel. Produced by Thomas Robsahm (of the Oscar-nominated “The Worst Person in the World,” “Loveable” isn’t eligible for the 2025 International Feature Film Oscar if it opens in October; Nordisk will have to figure out its best awards strategy with a North American distributor. At KVIFF the film won a total of five prizes including the Europa Cinemas Label Jury Award, the FIPRESCI Jury Award, and the Ecumenical Jury Award.

Oscar prospects are good for the Cannes prize-winners shown here, from Payal Kapadia’s extraordinary Mumbai portrait of two women “All We Imagine as Light” (India, Janus Films), which won the Cannes Grand Prix, to Miguel Gomes’s strikingly imagined “Grand Tour” (Portugal, MUBI), which won Best Director. Word is, Sean Baker’s Palme d’Or winner “Anora” (Neon) may play exclusively at Telluride, which does not announce its slate in advance, after KVIFF invited the film. Iceland may submit Cannes Un Certain Regard opener “When the Light Breaks” (New Line Cinema), a heartfelt portrait of grief starring young actress Elín Hall. And Italy is more likely to go with Cannes and KVIFF’s colorful selection “Parthenope,” (A24), from Paolo Sorrentino, than Daniele Lucchetti’s morose relationship drama “Trust,” which debuted at Rotterdam.

While they didn’t win any major prizes, we will hear more from the debut filmmakers behind warm Czech family slice-of-life “March to May” (Proxima Special Mention, Martin Pavol Repka), Georgian father-son drama “Panopticon” (George Sikharulidze, who teaches film in Chicago), and Italy’s eco-drama “Chlorophyll” (Ivana Gloria).

Arguably, the most popular films at the festival were the shorts featuring past festival attendees including Helen Mirren, Jude Law, Johnny Depp, Milos Forman, and Casey Affleck. Shot in black and white by top Czech commercials director Ivan Zachariáš, this year’s main protagonist is Oscar-winning actor and producer Benicio del Toro (“Traffic”), recipient of the KVIFF President’s Award in 2022, who took time off from shooting Wes Anderson’s “The Phoenician Scheme” in Berlin to work with Zachariáš, who collaborated on the trailer with cinematographer Jan Velický and editor Filip Malásek.

CRYSTAL GLOBE COMPETITION

CRYSTAL GLOBE JURY
Christine Vachon, USA
Geoffrey Rush, Australia
Sjón, Iceland
Eliška Křenková, Czech Republic
Gábor Reisz, Hungary

GRAND PRIX – CRYSTAL GLOBE (25 000 USD)
The financial award is shared equally by the director and producer of the award-winning film.

“A Sudden Glimpse to Deeper Things”
Directed by: Mark Cousins
United Kingdom, 2024

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (15 000 USD)
The financial award is shared equally by the director and producer of the award-winning film.

“Loveable” / Elskling
Directed by: Lilja Ingolfsdottir
Norway, 2024

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD
Nelicia Low for the film “Pierce” / Cì xīn qiè gŭ
Singapore, Taiwan, Poland, 2024

BEST ACTRESS AWARD
Helga Guren for her role in the film “Loveable” / Elskling
Norway, 2024

BEST ACTOR AWARD – ex-aequo
Ton Kas and Guido Pollemans for their role in the film “Three Days of Fish” / Drie dagen vis
Netherlands, Belgium, 2024

SPECIAL JURY MENTION
“Xoftex”
Directed by: Noaz Deshe
Germany, France, 2024

“Our Lovely Pig Slaughter” / Mord
Directed by: Adam Martinec
Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, 2024

PRÁVO AUDIENCE AWARD
“Waves” / Vlny
Directed by: Jiří Mádl
Česká republika, Slovenská republika, 2024

PROXIMA COMPETITION

PROXIMA JURY
Bianca Balbuena, Philippines
Wouter Jansen, Netherlands
Adéla Komrzý, Czech Republic
Mohamed Kordofani, Sudan
Daniela Michel, Mexico

PROXIMA GRAND PRIX (15 000 USD)
The financial award is shared equally by the director and producer of the award-winning film.

“Stranger” / Ju wai ren
Directed by: Zhengfan Yang
USA, China, Netherlands, Norway, France, 2024

PROXIMA SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (10 000 USD)
The financial award is shared equally by the director and producer of the award-winning film.

“Night Has Come” / Vino la noche
Directed by: Paolo Tizón
Peru, Spain, Mexico, 2024

SPECIAL MENTION
“March to May” / Od marca do mája
Directed by: Martin Pavol Repka
Czech Republic, 2024

FESTIVAL PRESIDENT’S AWARD FOR CONTRIBUTION TO CZECH CINEMATOGRAPHY

Ivan Trojan, Czech Republic

FESTIVAL PRESIDENT’S AWARD

Viggo Mortensen, USA
Daniel Brühl, Germany / Spain
Clive Owen, United Kingdom

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