Among the most interesting films this year, without question, is the special sneak preview of the film Secret of Moonacre, directed by the Hungarian director and one of the main members of the festival jury Gábor Csupo. Sixty-five short films have been entered in the animated film section.
This year's Days of European Cinematography have been dedicated to Spanish film productions and culture. Aside from the best of Spanish film productions for children and youth, there will be a presentation of two classic Spanish film directors - Luis Buňuel and Carlos Saura. Other parts of this section will include a photography exhibition of portraits of Spanish filmmakers and an animation workshop for children led by Spanish animators and lecturers.
The screening of select films will be enriched by meetings with the directors or even main actors from those films. Visitors to the festival can look forward to meeting, among others, English film and theatre star Tim Curry, famous for his role in the film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. A sneak preview of the feature film Secret of Moonacre will be presented in Zlín. Another guest of the festival will be director and son of the of the famous Spanish director Luis Buñuel - Juan Luis Buñuel. The festival will also welcome other important guests such as Gábor Csupó - famous Hungarian filmmaker, Anna Sophia Robb - a young American star, Alexey Bardukov - a young Russian actor, Imanol Uribe - a Spanish director, Vic Sarin - a well-known Canadian director, script-writer and cinematographer, Clara Lago - a young Spanish actress and many others.
This year two Czech films have managed to qualify for the competitive section of feature films for children. It is Hell With the Princess (Peklo s princeznou) by the director Miloslav Šmídmajer is an example of the continuing Czech fairytale genre with all of its strengths, including sparkling humour and quality acting performances. Another Czech film is Who's Afraid of the Wolf (Kdopak by se vlka bál), which director Mária Procházková impressed audiences with at this year's Berlinale in the Generation competition and which also won at this year's Plzen festival. Another exceptional film is one from French director Philipe Muyl, Magic (Magique!), which is a celebration of a child's imagination and an enchanting world. The film is also an interesting formal experiment with a series of songs. An Indian contribution to the festival Nanhe Jaisalmer: A Dream Come True, is an inspirational film that is a very entertaining story inspired by current Bollywood productions. The film was awarded at the children's festival in Chicago.
The competition for youth is surely enhanced by the Canadian film It's Not Me, I Swear! (C'est pas moi, je le jure!) by director Philippe Falardeau, which tells the unusually sparkling and often harsh story of ten-year-old Leon during the summer of 1968. The Days of Spanish Cinematography will be represented by the film Cowards (Cobardes) by directors José Corbacho and Juan Cruz dedicated to the current very important topic of school bullying.
For younger audiences there will be the successful Danish representative competitive film Max Embarrassing (Max Pinlig) by director Lotte Svendsen, which is in the form of a teen comedy dealing with a difficult period in the life of an adolescent boy named Max and his relationship to his mother that sometimes feels like a rather embarrassing affair. The Irish-German debut by director Marian Quinn 32A, on the other hand, is a sensitive look at the topic of girls entering womanhood.
An International Competition of Short Animated Films for Children
We've come up with some innovations for this section this year. The competition is now focused on animated films for children up to 12 years of age. During pre-selection there were nearly 200 films. 65 films from 20 countries of the world will be taking part in the competition. Most representative films have traditionally been from Russia. But our littlest of moviegoers can also watch productions from faraway countries like the United States, Canada and Taiwan. From the Czech Republic we've got representative projects by Czech Television, among them is Finland from the European Pexeso project.
We have also prepared a series of very interesting films for early evening screenings that have been determined suitable for young audiences. Aside from feature films, there are also two interesting animated feature-length films. One of them is the newest film from Gabor Csupo Immigrants (L.A. Dolce Vita) - a humorous look at the lives of immigrants who have left their native countries bringing with them various lifestyles and traditions that don't fit in with the proper pursuit of the American Dream. The other is the Spanish film Animal Crisis - the first feature-length flash animation. The story is a variation on Orwell's Animal Farm.
But of course we've also prepared some feature-length animated films for the little ones such as the animated Mexican film Agent Macaw: Shaken & Stirred - a comical animal variation on the most famous of secret agents, James Bond. And from distant Malaysia comes the adventure of three little boys who form the group Budak Lapok, which just also happens to be the name of the film.
COMPETITION OF EUROPEAN DEBUTS
For several years the competitive section of European Debuts has been presenting ten feature-length films from young directors from all over Europe to the Czech public. The intent of this section is to try to discover young talent and introduce their novel view of the world to the public. Their films are accentuated not only by their topics, but also by their film's form, which often tell of the hardships and furtiveness in the lives of their young protagonists within society. Last but not least, this section will feature films that have come to Zlín from other top festivals (Venice, Berlinale). We can name some of their titles here: the first film by director Marco Pontecorvo (an otherwise successful cameraman), Pa-ra-da (Italy-France-Romania 2008), is an non-idealized story about the difficult lives of children in Bucharest, Romania. A French entertainer comes there to brighten up the lives of children in a local children's home with his art (the film was presented in Venice in 2008). The first film by Esther Rots Can Go Through Skin (Kan door huid heen - Netherlands, 2008), on the other hand, is an intimate look into the soul of a young female protagonist who suffers a strong shock during an assault in her flat. The film was presented in the Forum section at this year's Berlinale and aroused a huge response. A third film we can tell you about is the French film Ain't Scared (Regarde-moi) by the young French director Audrey Estrougo dealing with a group of young people living on the outskirts of Paris in the ghetto, or "la Cité". And the Czech Republic will be represented by a film from Tomáš Řehořek called Changes.
A COMPETITION OF FEATURE FILMS FROM THE VISEGRAD COUNTRIES
The competitive section of films from the Visegrad countries is a traditional selection of interesting film titles from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. The individual film titles - though their topics vary - connect with the original effort to capture the specific reality of Central Europe and some of the films represent certain national film trends within their nation's cinematography. This category, with its adult themes, is judged by a student jury. Each country is represented by two films. We can tell you about some of them now. From the Czech Republic comes the film English Strawberries (Anglické jahody) by director Vladimír Drha, from Slovakia Music (Muzika) by director Juraj Nvota, from Poland a film by Magdalena Piekorz called Drowsiness (Senność) and Hungary will be represented by the film Virtually a Virgin (Majdnem szüz) by director Péter Bacsó.
Last year was the successful premier of the section Night Horizons. This year's dramaturgy again offers a motley medley of viewpoints of world cinematography with themes dealing with young people. It tries to select films that have not yet been shown at Czech or world festivals.
In this year's Night Horizons there will be an even more varied program with films from nearby countries (e.g. Sweden, Germany, USA) and from relatively exotic places (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Argentina and Kazachstan). The fourteen films will be shown in the evening and are aimed at a target audience of university students and adults. And though their dramaturgy doesn't veer from the topic of films for young people, they try to focus on films dealing with delicate topics and even topics that are downright provocative. Along with a few rather socially oriented films that look into the problems of violence and even two horrors, the dramaturgy is not limited to just problematic topics, but also includes films capturing softer meditative topics transcending the world of adults and pop culture.