Written by: FFT Webmaster | June 3rd, 2010
Film Premieres, Special Events, Hommages and Parties
After several days of torrential rain showers, the sun is finally shining in Zlin as the Zlin Film Festival hits the halfway mark of its 50th anniversary celebrations. Despite the unusually cool weather, the atmosphere has been warm at this popular and important film event, the oldest devoted to films for the children and youth market (although adults are more than welcome).
The Festival has use of two terrific venues for showcasing the films it has brought here from arroun the world. The Velke Kino, literally the “big cinema”, is that and much more. The 2500+ seat theater is the largest in the Czech Republic and one of the few remaining movie palaces on the continent. The theater has been the venue for the Festival’s opening day activities, including screenings of the Festival opener, the American rock n roll drama THE PERFECT AGE OF ROCK N ROLL, the popular Czech family film LONG LIVE THE NIGHTS!, as well as the home of the special sidebar devoted to 70mm films, where such classics as LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, WEST SIDE STORY, THE UNTOUCHABLES and BATMAN have screened in their widescreen glory.
The second venue is the Golden Apple Cinemas complex, a six screen multiplex located in a fancy new shopping mall, which has superior theaters with modern state of the art projection, sound and theater seating. Projections here have been flawless and from the crush of the crowds, quite popular. In all, over 1500 film professionals, including film festival representatives, distributors and producers have assembled in Zlin from around the world.
The Festival statistics are certainly impressive. In total, the Festival is presenting 621 audiovisual works (split between feature films and shorts) from 43 countries. With the special emphasis this year on contemporary and classic films from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, more than 140 films are from these two countries, making for an encyclopedic showcase of the highlights of the past 50 years. In the Rainbow Marble International Advertising Festival sidebar, which presents the best in cinema and television advertising, nearly 250 advertisements from 68 countries will be shown. The student film competition, one of the most popular sidebar events, 16 films from 11 countries are being presented, including films from students enrolled in the famous Film School Zlín.
Aside from the hundreds of filmmakers who have come here to show their films and be present at lively question-and-answer sessions, the Festival has hosted several important guest stars. Chief among them was the distinguished English actor, Sir Christopher Lee, who eloquently presented two films here, the Tim Burton fantasy CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and a classic Hammer Film from the 1960s, RASPUTIN. Lee also presented a superb and enlightening Master Class on Screen Acting, drawing on his vast experience making almost 300 films in a career that spans more than six decades.
A fresh face was the delightful British actress Jodie Whittaker, who was represented here with two films: THE KID and ST TRINIANS 2 & THE LEGEND OF FRITTON’S GOLD, a contemporary update of the popular Ealing Studios prep school comedies of the 1960s. Ms. Whittaker was a sparkling presence at the press conferences and talks she gave, bringing an interesting dimension of current stardom in the film and theater worlds.
Also coming to Zlin for the first time was Scott Rosenbaum, the writer/director of the Festival’s opener THE PERFECT AGE OF ROCK N ROLL, an award-winning musical drama with a stellar ensemble cast ol including such veterans as Peter Fonda, Kelly Lynch, Ruby Dee and Billy Dee Williams and such Young Hollywood talents as Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Lukas Haas and Taryn Manning. The film, which includes a dynamic score and on-screen performances by both Zegers and Ritter, along with several blues legends, was a popular choice for the Opening Night festivities, which continued with a fireworks display and after party at the Hotel Moskva, the central hq for Festival visitors.
Aside from all the films being presented, there are several special events, including art exhibitions of the films of famed Czech animator Karel Zeman, the illustrated artwork of Petr Sis, a photo chronicle of the Film Harvest event of 1941 (which created the template for the Festival) as well as the mini-salon of the always popular artistic film clapperboards, which are auctioned on the Festival’s final day to raise money for student film scholarships. Festival guests were treated to a fantastic tour on Wednesday night of a 17th century chateau in a nearby rural village, along with an amazing spread of food delicacies and local alcohol treats, along with musical and theatrical entertainments.
As the Festival enters its final stretch, there will be several important homages, including the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Zdeněk Svěrák, the celebrated actor/screenwriter best known for his work in the Oscar winning film KOLYA; a celebration of the 80th birthday of Václav Vorlíček and the premiere of a new documentary on the life and career of seminal Czech director Vojtěch Jasný. The Festival is also offering the Czech premieres of the worldwide blockbusters PRINCE OF PERSIA starring Jake Gyllenhaal and SHREK FOREVER AFTER, the final chapter in the hugely popular animated series. Festivities climax with the Gala Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening, followed by a sensational after-party at the famed Film Studios Zlin.