Sunday, July 1, 2007

I heart Carls(wicked)bad.

Happy July!!

On Friday morning we departed for the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival It was SO much fun.

We got to nap on the trip there:

and were pleasantly surprised when we pulled up to the charming Hotel Ontario, We were even more excited when we got into our rooms-- real beds! Air conditioning! Hair dryers! Air conditioning! Televisions! Clean sheets! Air conditioning!!!!!!!!!!! And adorable little Do Not Disturb signs!!

And of course, the views from our room were quite lovely.

Karlovy Vary, before becoming a hub for film festivals, has been a spa town for what seems like forever (even Karl Marx bathed there! Though I am finding this hard to believe-thanks to my fall semester horrid research paper-as the dude was so uber-broke that one of his kids died from starvation). But, I digress. Karlovy Vary is known best for its healing mineral water. There were dozens of hot springs throughout the town, and you can go up to any of them and drink the water.

They even sell little porcelain drinking cups for the water (probably a scam, but hey, I bought it!). Some of the water provided goes up to 72 degrees Celcius-- pretty freaking hot, which I didn't pay attention to until after I had already sipped some. The taste? Well, I have to be honest. I guess I'm pretty naive, but I was thinking it would taste like either chocolate or wine. The truth is that it tasted like blood, which I am assuming is from all of the iron and other minerals in there. Delish! But seriously, it's supposed to be fantastically good and healing for the stomach. You can read more about it here:

We walked around town for a bit before heading to the Festival. It's really a beautiful little town, and would be great for a relaxing weekend trip for anyone who lives in that area (or for any insane jetsetters).

On to the screenings!! We had unlimited access (sorta, kinda) to shows there. So long as nothing was already packed, we could get in to the screenings for free.

Sometimes waiting in line was kinda sucky, but we played games to pass the time, such as "Hide in the Plant."

In total, I saw 9 films while we were there. I'd say I enjoyed about 5. THE AERIAL/LA ANTENA was incredible. It was a silent film, in black and white, and it had Spanish subtitles animated in the film. I can't even attempt to say how amazing it was-- it was like Burton meets Heart of the World meets Death to the Tinman. In addition, there were English subtitles as well as Czech subtitles-- pretty awesome to see so many languages at once. You can read more here:

The craziest film I saw was MISTER LONELY. A Michael Jackson impersonator befriends a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and folIows her to an insland of other celebrity impersonators. I knew this would be insane once I saw Werner Herzog was in it. He plays a priest who has his pilot's license. I'm not giving anything else away, but as the Czechs would say, it was very "cesky film."

I got to see three docs while I was there. One was a nice little treat from NY. MY KID COULD PAINT THAT recounts the hype around a 4 year-old Pollock-esque painter, Marla Olmstead, from Binghamton. It started out as a participatory doc that brought up questions of modern art, but then spiraled into questions about ethics and authorship, as a slanderous 60 Minutes expose suggests the little girl's father might actually be doing the paintings himself. The film steadily turns into a reflexive documentary, as the filmmaker, Amir Bar-Lev, begins to question his trust for the family, and questions his own "truth" and validity in filmmaking.

Leonardo DiCaprio's mom showed up to present her son's latest doc, an "Inconvenient Truth" for the younger folk, I suppose. THE 11th HOUR was pretty good, definitely informative (Stephen Hawking!!), and I hope it does make an impact. Of course, coming out of that one, I was still pretty miserable (we're all doomed!!), although it is very optimistic in the end. On a side note, our hotel was completely green-- there is no electricity in the room unless you insert your key card. So, you can never leave the lights on when you head out. Brilliant!

Today I got to see a wonderful gem from modern Czech doc filmmakers. REMININCENCES/ROZPOMINANI is an observatory documentary about the current emotional and philosophical state of the Czechs. It really freaked me out, because the first line was "Are you happy?" as we see a miserable waitress answer, "No!." It's pretty much the Czech version of CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER, as well as the Czech version of my masters project. I definitely got some great ideas, as well as tips for what not to do in my film (interview people in hospitals who have just had major amputations. Not nice.).

I also got to see Renee Zellwger present her film MISS POTTER, a biopic on Beatrix Potter. Renee, who had lost her luggage the night before, still looked fabulous, though I am happy to say that I am tanner than she is, which isn't saying much. The film was over the top cheese, but she did a good job, and it was interesting to learn more about the creator of Peter Rabbit (one of my childhood favorites!).

Prices at the festival weren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be. Leah and I lived off of 30k corn, 5k popcorn, and 6k wafers all weekend.

I finished the trip with a small walk through the resort area, and came upon Sts. Paul and Peter Church, one of the prettiest churches I've ever seen:

In the end, there were SO many more films we all wanted to see (the festival goes on for 10 days), but sadly we had to wrap it up today. Shooting begins tomorrow, and even though Leah and I don't shoot until Wednesday, we still have to crew and act in other classmates' films. It's gonna be a lonnnnnnnng week, but hopefully we'll all learn a lot and not try to strangle each other!

I am sad to be away from the States on the 4th. We'll be shooting all day and then have class at night, so hopefully I won't think too much about roasting on a beach, eating hotdogs, and drinking Coronas (or being at South Street Seaport in the VIP section last year!!). Luckily, there was a fireworks show at the Festival, so that helped.

I know I should probably want to be an ex-pat by now, but I really do love... the Northeast :)

Happy 4th in case I don't post until then! Be safe, and wear sunscreen!!

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