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PICTURE PERFECT: THE KARLOVY VARY INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Since 1946 the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival has been attracting world-class guests and their movies. Casey Affleck is set to receive the President’s Award at this year’s event, which takes place June 30-July 8…and I’ll be there to see it as I make my first visit to this picturesque 14th century spa town. (Do you remember the 2006 movie Last Holiday with Queen Latifah? It was shot there and it looks like no other place on earth.)

One thing I know for sure: there won’t be an idle moment. Every year Karlovy Vary showcases an imposing 180 new feature films, many of which are making their world, international, or European debuts. Casey Affleck is presenting his latest collaboration with writer-director David Lowery, A Ghost Story. Lowery will be in attendance with producers Toby Halbrooks and James M. Johnston.

Among the other notables being honored this year are British filmmaker Ken Loach, his longtime screenwriter Paul Laverty and renowned composer James Newton Howard. Howard will conduct the Czech National Symphony Orchestra on opening night as they play music from his score for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He will share the podium with the great composer-conductor Carl Davis. There will be tributes to Czech cinematographer Jiří Brdečka and a digitally restored print of the Oscar-winning Czech classic The Shop on Main Street by Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos.

Another highlight will be the unspooling of ten films by Japanese master Kenji Mizoguchi, selected by British film critic Tony Rayns. “At a time when film buffs are often forced to watch classic movies on screens that measure diagonally about the length of your forearm, KVIFF will provide big-screen viewing of mainly 35mm prints for another chapter in our series devoted to filmmakers who had an immense influence on the development of film culture,” said festival artistic director Karel Och. Amen to that.

More than 100,000 people attend this sprawling event, which is open to the public. To quote from a press release, “Also known as Carlsbad, the town of Karlovy Vary is located 100km from Prague in Western Bohemia—at the crossroads between Eastern and Western Europe. Its world-famous spa was founded in the 14th century and attracted European royalty, artists and composers who availed themselves of the healing thermal mineral waters.”

My wife Alice, daughter Jessie and I are excited about this adventure, our first visit to the Czech Republic and this famous festival. If you’re curious to learn more about it, click HERE

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at leonardmaltin.com. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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