Dozens of film fans braved the inclement weather to attend the opening ceremony of the 25th Art Film Fest. An hour before it began, they were already waiting for the guests’ red-carpet arrival at the entrance of the Kunsthalle Uránia. Among the first to appear were festival president Milan Lasica and programme director Peter Nágel, who proceeded to welcome the arriving guests.
Historic first President’s Award
The evening’s musical accompaniment came in the form of composer Ľubica Čekovská’s film scores, as a pianist played melodies from Slovak pictures like Cruel Joys and Hostage, as well as international cult classics. The guests were also treated to a non-traditional, romantic rendition of the local folksong “Na košickej turni dva holúbky šedza” (Two Doves Sit on the Tower of Košice). For the first time in Art Film Fest’s 25-year history, Milan Lasica presented the Festival President’s Award, to two laureates, no less, the first of which – Mária Kráľovičová – was taken by surprise. One of Slovakia’s most prominent performers, having recently celebrated her 90th birthday, Kráľovičová was introduced by actor Ľubomír Paulovič, accompanied by a selection of scenes from her films and rounded out by a poem written in her honour. Visibly moved, Marína reminisced onstage about the beginnings of her film career: “When Paľo Bielik gave me my first film role 70 years ago – in Wolves’ Lairs – it was such a small part that if you blinked, you’d miss it.” During the standing ovation that followed, Peter Nágel officially presented the actress with her award. “Film is the seventh great power, and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to be here with you today. May this festival live at least as long as I do!” joked Kráľovičová.
The second President’s Award was introduced by actress Kamila Magálová. “This man is an actor of European calibre,” she affirmed. The recipient is her favourite onscreen husband – Czech actor and Karlovy Vary Film Festival president Jiří Bartoška. “Speeches are the death of all good events, so I will be brief. This is an award from filmmakers, and that makes it a great honour,” said the winner, emphasizing that it was an honour not only for him, but for the entire Karlovy Vary festival team.
A symbolic clapperboard opens Art Film Fest’s 25th edition
The evening also featured a preview reel of pictures from the International Competition of Feature Films. As the ceremony came to a close, Milan Lasica and Ľubica Čekovská introduced their favourite films to be screened in the President’s Choice section this week, such as Casablanca and Modern Times. The festival was then officially launched with a symbolic clapperboard and Milan Lasica’s words: “May the festival begin!”
After the opening ceremony, guests first enjoyed a prelude film from photographer Michal Šebeňa on Serbian director Emir Kusturica, followed by a screening of Kusturica’s latest picture: On the Milky Road.