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FESTIVALS Czech Republic

Finding your place in Karlovy Vary

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Three Competition films from Europe’s northern parts premiered at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) during its opening weekend. All three look at individuals trying to figure out their place in life and how they should relate to their surroundings.

Karger, made by Ö Filmproduktion in co-production with MDR Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk and the MEDIA Programme, is the directorial debut of Elke Hauck. It is part of the no-nonsense school of recent, small German films such as Valeska Grisebach’s Longing [+see also:
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, with which it shares its use of non-professional actors and authentic locales, and Windows on Monday, with which is shares cinematographer Patrick Orth and his documentary-like style and its sense of existential crisis in the face of ordinary life. It follows the title character (Jens Klemig) who looks on in bafflement as his life comes apart.

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The protagonist of another debut film in competition also finds life as he knows it up for discussion but, unlike Karger, wheelchair-bound Geirr (Fridtjov Såheim) in Bård Breien’s The Art of Negative Thinking [+see also:
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is forced to do something about it – even if this means being part of a pathetic self-help group mainly made up of handicapped people. Their unorthodox methods – not exactly authorised by their counsellor – allow Breien’s dark Nordic comedy to fully flower. The Maipo production is sold by Nordisk and was made with backing from the Norwegian Film Fund.

Baltasar Kormákur’s boxoffice hit Jar City [+see also:
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had its international premiere at the KVIFF. The police procedural combines the traditional Icelandic preoccupation with family relationships with modern technology such as DNA mapping. Based on a novel by Arnaldur Indridason, the film is acted and filmed with such extraordinary precision it allows its universal themes of fatherhood and belonging to easily surface. Produced by Blueeyes, Bavaria Film and Nordisk Film, it received backing from the Icelandic Film Centre and is sold by Trust Film Sales.

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