KVIFF 2023: Strong presence of Czech upcoming directorial talent

30 May 2023

Czech Film

KVIFF 2023: Strong presence of Czech upcoming directorial talent

Czech Film

KVIFF 2023: Strong presence of Czech upcoming directorial talent


Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has revealed the selection of the three key sections of its 57th edition – Crystal Globe Competition, Proxima Competition, and Special Screenings – which include 8 Czech films and co-productions presented in world premieres. A promising sign for rising Czech directorial talent and the local industry as five out of the eight films are directed by debuting or second time Czech directors.

Mysterious drama We Have Never Been Modern by Matěj Chlupáček and allegoric coming-of-age road movie A Sensitive Person by Tomáš Klein will celebrate their world premieres in the main competition, while the bizarre summer adventure Brutal Heat by Albert Hospodářský will appear in Proxima Competition. Special Screenings give floor to Robert Hloz´s sci-fi thriller Restore Point, David Jařab´s filmic odyssey inspired by Joseph Conrad’s iconic novel The Heart of Darkness entitled Snake Gas, and the comedy with horror elements She Came at Night, by Tomáš Pavlíček and Jan Vejnar. The selection also includes 2 minority co-productions – Polish majority Imago by Olga Chajdas (Proxima), and Slovak majority All Men Become Brothers by Robert Kirchhoff (Special Screenings). Most of the films have been supported by the Czech Film Fund, both through selective support and the production incentive programme.

Crystal Globe Competition

Karlovy Vary’s main competition will present two Czech films - We Have Never Been Modern and A Sensitive Person.

The mystery drama We Have Never Been Modern is inspired by the true story of intersex people in the 1930s. Helena, the pregnant wife of the factory manager, came with her husband to build an utopian world in the middle of pure nature. She is about to give birth and her family is facing a rosy future in a modern city. But all her illusions will soon perish. All it takes is the dead body of a newborn hermaphrodite to be found in the middle of their factory. Helena needs to find out what happened here for the safety of her own child, but she runs into her own prejudices...

The film is the second feature directed by Matěj Chlupáček, who also produced the film together with Maja Hamplová (both Barletta), and Rastislav Šesták of DNA Production, the Slovak co-producer. The development and production of the film were  supported by the Czech Film Fund with EUR 596,000 and it has also received support from Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Creative Europe MEDIA. The international sales are handled by LevelK. Read more about Barletta in our recent CZECH FILM magazine.

A debut feature A Sensitive Person by Tomáš Klein, who we recently featured in the CZECH FILM magazine, tells the story of a boy and his father, both dressed as women, who run across a dystopian landscape where people are filled with frustration and fear. To maintain his childhood ideals and become a truly sensitive person, the boy has to stand up to this cruel world of adults, which also includes his own dad. 

The film is a co-production of Czech Republic and Slovakia, with Tomáš Michálek of MasterFilm, and Ivan Ostrochovský (Punkchart films) producing, and Jaroslav Sedláček of Czech Television co-producing. The Czech Film Fund backed the project´s development and production with EUR 424,000. Additional support was provided by Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Moravian-Silesian Region, and Pilsen Region.


Proxima Competition

The selection of this recently reshaped section includes one Czech feature length debut and a minority co-production with Poland and the Netherlands.

Brutal Heat
In a world threatened by a solar fragment flying toward Earth, an 18-year-old boy gets stranded on his way to a cabin in an unknown city. A series of bizarre adventures force him to confront his greatest fears – reconciling with the reality of a twisted world, himself, and his father. 

Albert Hospodářský returns to Karlovy Vary IFF with his feature debut Brutal Heat after presenting the project here in 2022 as part of the Works in Progress session of the Eastern Promisses industry programme. Brutal Heat is a co-production of Lukáš Kokeš and Ondřej Lukeš (nutprodukce) from Czech Republic and Ivan Ostrochovský and Katarína Tomková (Punkchart films) from Slovakia. Supported by the Czech Film Fund in the first film production scheme with EUR 160,000, the film was also backed by Slovak Audiovisual Fund, East Bohemia Region, City of Pardubice, and Film Foundation.

A Poland-Netherlands-Czech Republic co-production Imago is the second feature by Polish director Olga Chajdas. The film brings a portrait of Ela, a woman of change, in a country in change. Poland, during the political and social transformation from communism into Solidarity becomes the playground to Ela´s pursuit of love, freedom, and change through her art, her essence, and her mysticism. The story starts in October 1987 during a moon eclipse and ends with Poland’s free elections in 1989.

Imago was made in co-production of Poland´s Apple Film Production,the Netherlands´ Topkapi Films and moloko film from Czech Republic. The film was backed by Polish Film Institute and The Netherlands Film Fund, as well as the Czech Film Fund which supported the minority co-production with EUR 112,000.


Special Screenings

Restore Point
Europe, 2041. The Free European Federation issues a new law that guarantees its citizens “one whole life to live”. Due to new technologies, everyone has a right of recovery in case of an unnatural death. In such a society, an “absolute” murder is nearly impossible. Detective Em Trochinowska has to solve a murder-mystery where the only witness is one of the resurrected victims. Together, they attempt to shed light on the case and find out if the second chance isn’t just another easily exploitable tool dealing with the consequences instead of the cause itself. 

The debut feature Restore Point by Robert Hloz is a fast pace sci-fi thriller with crime story elements, made in co-production of Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Serbia. Main producer is Jan Kallista (FILM KOLEKTIV), with Rastislav Šesták and Peter Bebjak of DNA Production (Slovakia), Stanisław Dziedzic of Film Produkcja (Poland) and Danilo Bećković Mali Budo (Serbia) co-producing. The Czech Film Fund supported the project in script, development, and production stages with EUR 352,000. Additional support was provided by Creative Europe MEDIA, Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Polish Film Institute, Film Center Serbia, and Prague Audiovisual Fund. The international sales are handled by XYZ.

Snake Gas
In David Jařab's film, the main protagonist Robert Klein leaves France to return to Prague and eventually find his stepbrother somewhere in the Balkans. He is driven by the intuition that he will find him in those places where Europe is losing its contours and falling back into its colonial past, limned by its xenophobic present. During the journey, he is forced to reflect on himself, his relationship to violence, sex, and the otherness of cultures, and to confront his ego and eventually even accept its dark side.

Snake Gas is produced by Viktor Schwarcz of Cineart TV Prague (Czech Republic), Silvia Panáková of ARINA (Slovakia) and Bogdan George Apetri of The East Company Productions (Romania) with Czech Television and HomeMedia Production co-producing. The Czech Film Fund supported the project with EUR 415,000.


She Came at Night
Aneta and Jirka are in their thirties. They live in an apartment that belonged to Jirka's ancestors. One night, the doorbell rings. Jirka´s mom Valerie is standing at the door. She needs a bed for the night. Maybe more than just one night. She stays longer and longer, slowly destroying all the calm moments around her. She Came at Night is a combination of black comedy and home invasion horror based on a situation familiar to almost all of us. 

Produced by Eva Pavlíčková, Pavel Vácha, Tomáš Pavlíček, Jan Vejnar of Bratři in co-production with Artcam Films, She Came at Night is a co-direction of Tomáš Pavlíček, who has presented both his previous films in Karlovy Vary (Totally Talking in 2014 and Bear with Us in 2018), and debuting Jan Vejnar.

All Men Become Brothers
Robert Kirchhoff´s documentary is a film on the phenomenon of Czechoslovak politician Alexander Dubček, one of the most prominent personalities of The Prague Spring of 1968, the author of the concept of “socialism with a human face”.

All Men Become Brothers was made in co-production of Slovakia and Czech Republic, with Robert Kirchhoff of atelier.doc and Jiří Konečný of endorfilm producing, and Radio and Television Slovakia, Slovak Film Institute, Plaftik, and Czech Television co-producing. In addition to the support from Creative Europe MEDIA, Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the documentary was also supported by the Czech Film Fund with EUR 104,800.


Future Frames

EFP FUTURE FRAMES – Generation NEXT of European Cinema presents ten outstanding young directors from Europe with their latest work. Among them is Czech graduation film Stuck Together by Anna Wowra from FAMU film school in Prague. The film tells a story of three inseparable friends from childhood, who have always dreamt of leaving their backwater town. Only one of them gets that chance when she is selected for the next round of model casting. Can they cope? The film reconstructs the last 24 hours of their lives together.

Apart from presenting and discussing their films with the very welcoming KVIFF audience, the young filmmakers will take part in a tailor made programme, containing training, networking and promotion activities to further and ease their way into the international film scene. The films are nominated by the European national film promotion institutes and the final selection is made by the programme team of Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. 


In the Horizons section, in which films from other world festivals are presented, two Czech co-productions c will be presented. The winner of the Big Screen Competition at this year's IFF Rotterdam, Abbas Amini's Endless Borders, is about a passionate Iranian teacher, Ahmad, who uses education as a means to fight ignorance and prejudice. However, after meeting the Hazara tribe, who are under imminent threat from the Taliban, he realises the lack of love and education in his life. This German-Czech-Iranian co-production is produced by Kaveh Farnah of Europe Media Nest on the Czech side. 

The second co-production in this section is To the North by Romanian director Mihai Mincan, co-produced by Mikuláš Novotný of Czech Background Films. The film premiered last year in the Orrizonti section at the Venice IFF, tells the true story of a religious Filipino sailor, Joel, who discovers a Romanian refugee hidden among the containers during his shift on board a ship. Joel decides to hide him so that the refugee will not be thrown overboard. But soon a dangerous game of cat and mouse begins. The Czech Film Fund supported both films in a grant scheme for minority co-productions.  


After a successful launch at the Festival de Cannes and Annecy Animated Film Festival, the Czech animated short film Electra will be presented to the domestic audience at Karlovy Vary IFF. The festival's programmers have chosen for it the Imagina section, which gives space to films of experimental nature. The director Daria Kashcheeva delves into the human mind and memory in her nearly 27-minute long film. The titular character Electra rethinks her 10th birthday, mixing memories with imagination and hidden dreams. Isolated in her fantasy world full of made-up busty dolls, plastic men’s body parts, juicy strawberries and dentist tools, she builds up her own relationships with her body and sexuality. Diving deeper and deeper into her childhood memories, she experiences again rebellion against her mother and mixed feelings for her father. 

The film was produced by Martin Vandas and Zuzana Křivková of MAUR film, in co-production with FAMU in Prague, Slovakia and France. The Czech Film Fund supported the film in both the development and production calls.

Out of the Past

In the section bringing to attention old time film classics, three Czech films will be presented this year. A black-and-white film by documentary filmmaker and cinematographer Ivan Vojnar, entitled The Way through the Bleak Woods, tells the story of a man who, at the beginning of last century, retreats to a secluded place to try to live in harmony with nature. The dramatically loose flow of the minimalistic plot is rounded out by the spiritual music of Irena Havlová and Vojtěch Havel and songs by accordionist Václav Koubek, who also portrays the main character.

Next in the section is Eduard Grečner's poetic 1967 film The Return of Dragon, about a reclusive potter, Martin, who is accused of acts he did not commit. And finally, the documentary Inža - sound master Ivo Špalj, made by Adéla Špaljová, tells a story of the legendary Czech sound engineer who elevated his craft to an art.

Pragueshorts at KVIFF

Karlovy Vary IFF will again give space to Czech short films that have been screened at the Pragueshorts festival. This year, a total of 9 animated and live-action films will be presented, most of them have achieved success abroad. The children's films Suzie in the Garden by Lucie Sunková and Dede is Dead by Philippe Kastner were both screened at the Berlinale, and in this section they will be complemented by three more films for children, namely Sand Pie by Kateřina Karhánková, which combines animation with live action, and two animated films Mom is Always Right by Marie Urbánková and Don’t Blow It Up by Alžběta Mačáková Mišejková.

Fiction films are represented by the winner of the Czech Competition at Pragueshorts Vinland by Martin Kuba, Rites by Damián Vondrášek, which received a Special Mention at the festival, and Island of Freedom by Petr Januschka, which was recognized as a Best Short Film at the Czech Film Critics' Awards.

Related films

A Sensitive Person

A boy and his father, both dressed up as women, run across a dystopian landscape where people are filled with frustration and fear. To maintain his childhood ideals and become a truly sensitive person, the boy has to stand up to…


Tomáš Klein





Brutal Heat

In a world threatened by a solar fragment flying to Earth, an 18-year-old boy gets stranded on his way to a cabin in an unknown city. A series of bizarre adventures force him to confront his greatest fears - reconciling with the…





Restore Point

It’s 2041 and the gaps in social and economic inequality have left the world on the brink. A breakthrough in science has given humanity the ability to bring victims of a violent crime back to life by backing up their brain every…


Robert Hloz





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