Hugo Rosák • Head of industry, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
“Quality is our ultimate goal”
by Martin Kudláč
- KARLOVY VARY 2018: Hugo Rosák, head of industry at Karlovy Vary, talks about the latest changes in the gathering’s industry structure, its expanded territorial scope and its future ambitions
Cineuropa met up with Hugo Rosák, who is responsible for the industry section of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. This year, the industry programme was affected not only by the decision to extend its geographic reach, but also by the inclusion of projects from other countries alongside domestic ones. Rosák also talked to Cineuropa about empowering experimental arthouse projects and future ambitions tied to the powerhouse that is SVoD.
Cineuropa: The structure of the industry programme has had an overhaul. Why did you decide to make such a change for this edition?
Hugo Rosák: We have very limited time available during the industry days. Most of the film professionals arrive on Sunday and stay until Wednesday morning. That forces us to squeeze as much as possible into two-and-a-half days while avoiding cannibalising our core market presentations. This year was a good year to make additional changes because we have been trying to play with programme innovation for the past two years, and we are trying to find the right balance in terms of not overwhelming our guests and yet still offering a programme that makes it worthwhile for them to come to Karlovy Vary.
Domestic projects in development previously had Pitch & Feedback all to themselves, but they’ve been joined by others this year. Why?
Karlovy Vary is a festival that speaks for the region, and it is personally important for me to maintain a good range of projects that we curate from all over Eastern Europe. When we saw an opportunity to present producers with works in development from the entire region, which have taken part in the MIDPOINT Feature Launch programme and thus have a seal of quality, we realised that the purely Czech and Slovak focus needed to be replaced. I am not a fan of halting something if it works, which Pitch & Feedback did, but in this case, we really had to make a decision. Now we are trying to find ways of helping Czech and Slovakian projects with international potential in a more specific way. But that’s something we will manage to do next year. For now, we are just happy that Czech projects have made it into the new selection of works in development.
The biggest change was the expansion of the territorial scope to include the countries of the Middle East. What can you tell us about this move?
We scouted around and considered a lot of projects that applied, and the fact that we have opened up to this new territory has proven to be a positive step. There is a lot of potential in this territory and a lot of talent. Proof of this can be seen in the fact that a Lebanese project won in Works in Progress [see the news]. This will make it possible for us to enhance the level of quality – and quality is our ultimate goal.
The Eurimages Lab Project Award has been handed out for the third time. Can you tell us a little about this initiative?
The Karlovy Vary IFF was selected by Eurimages as one of the four festivals that offer the winner a cash award of €50,000. Their aim is to reward those filmmakers who don’t tick any of the boxes that need to be ticked when applying for funds. National film funds give out their taxpayers’ money and are reluctant to support daring or experimental films. But such movies, especially because they are breaking with traditional formats, deserve attention and support as well. And they probably deserve more backing at the production stage because otherwise, they are unlikely to make it to the finishing line. So this initiative was approved by the Eurimages board, and it is intended to maintain the diversity of arthouse film, rather than allowing it to be judged by the box office.
Given the fluid environment of today’s film industry, are you preparing any more changes for the upcoming editions?
Most certainly, but we still need to plan carefully. We were hoping to further discuss the impact of big SVoD players such as Netflix on the industry. The discussions that take place at Cannes or Berlin are somewhat different compared to Central and Eastern Europe, where filmmakers would be grateful if such buyers actually noticed them. That could be life-changing. And so we as a festival representing this region have a slightly different perspective and would like to bring it to the table as well. See you next year at Karlovy Vary!
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