Jury member of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival: Great Privilege and Fun

Mr. Gerster, this is not the first time we meet in Karlsbad. You presented your debut film here ten years ago, and three years ago you achieved great success with your feature film “Lara”. But now you are here in a completely different role. Wherein?




Feature film

“Yes, I am a juror of this year’s main competition. It is a great honor and a great pleasure. I was invited by Karel Och (artistic director of the festival, editor’s note). He wrote me a message a few months ago that he was still looking for reasons to bring me to Karlovy Vary this year. I said you have to give me an award for my life’s work because I haven’t finished my new movie right now. Of course it was fun. But then there was an invitation to join the jury. I was very happy about it and I couldn’t resist because Karlovy Vary is very important to me. “

“I was very pleased to be invited to join the jury and I couldn’t resist because Karlovy Vary is very important to me.”

How do you like this job as a jury member? When we spoke to each other three years ago, you said you were nervous and that you were nervous about your first movie. How do you feel now?

“Of course, this is something completely different. Now I’m not standing in front of the stage and presenting a movie, I’m sitting somewhere in the middle of the room watching a lot of interesting and exciting movies. The role distribution is completely different, so I’m not as nervous as usual when presenting a movie. You can’t even talk about work in the jury. It is a great privilege and a great pleasure: we watch movies and talk about them. All the jury members are absolutely amazing and great, and it’s a lot of fun. Now we have watched ten of the twelve films, today there are two more and tomorrow we will talk about them. ‘




Director Jan Ole Gerster |  Photo: Markéta Kachlíková, Radio Praga International

What does the jury’s work actually look like? Do you watch a movie once or many times? Will there be a debate later? How is the process going?

“We have two movies every day, always at the same time. Starts at 5:00 PM Videos run for 90 to 120 minutes, rarely longer. Then a short break and the next movie is watched at 20:00. We only watch movies once, always in the Great Hall. We have a small room downstairs in Hotel Thermal where we get drinks and food between movies so we are very spoiled. And then there’s always a conversation about movies. The exchange was a bit more restrained at first, now it is more intense – also with regard to the decision that has to be taken tomorrow. ‘

You are the only film director on the jury. In addition, mostly non-filmmakers, such as festival directors and producers, are represented there. Do the perspectives also differ?

“After all, we are all looking for the same thing when we watch a movie. We are looking for a strong voice, a strong narrative, an experience that only happens in the cinema. “

“No. I think in the end we are all looking for the same thing when we watch a movie. We are looking for a strong voice, a strong narrative, we are looking for an experience that only happens in the cinema. I think we all have the same aspirations for the winning film. Some of the jurors have the same aspirations. I also have a lot in common with modern cinema because of my work, of course I try to watch everything I can, but there are two colleagues on the jury who travel from festival to festival all year round, so they are always up to date and have seen everything. And Roman Gutek from Poland is a rarity cinema enthusiast. He has devoted his life to cinema and is a really great and interesting jury colleague. Like Molly (Molly Malene Stensgaard, editor’s note), she is the editor of Lars von Trier. Therefore, it is a great privilege to be able to discuss about movies with all these colleagues. “




Karel Oh |  Photo: Slavomír Kubeš, ČTK

Prior to the festival, art director Karel Och said he was curious to see what the movies would look like after two years of the pandemic. He then found that there were no fewer films but for example there were more low budget films and films with fewer people involved. You are now watching videos that were made during the corona pandemic. Can you feel it? Can you recognize these circumstances?

“You see it every now and then – but surprisingly rarely. There are already movies that say that we have actually been going through a bad pandemic for two years. But this is not the dominant topic. Sometimes you actually see what you mentioned that conditions have necessarily changed. The entire film industry around the world was idle, and some helped each other by making low-budget films. It was just a response to that blockade that we all went through. You can feel it here and there, but as I said, it is not the dominant topic.




Photo: Markéta Kachlíková, Radio Praga International

I don’t think you can talk about the dominant topic …

“No, not really.”

Czech films are also represented in the competition. Do you also have the opportunity or interest in watching Czech movies? About contemporary or older movies?

“For me, Czech cinema is first and foremost the cinema of the Czech new wave.”

“Actually, I have a bit of a hard time with modern movies. Of course, every time I am in Karlovy Vary, I ask who is the new star director in the Czech Republic and I also try to see their films. But for me, Czech cinema is first and foremost the Czech new wave. I try to watch one of the renovations here every year, there is always a restored version of a Czech classic. It’s just crazy what a national movie treasure is. I also find it very impressive, touching and intelligent that the festival always connects its history with the history of world cinema. Not only because I think the festival is such a hit with the audience. It simply understood how to excite people with cinema, that it also has to do with one’s own identity, that it can be transferred to other nationalities. This sharpened the eyes of the audience. It’s always touching and reassuring how people line up outside the movie theaters every day from nine in the morning and watch the movies. It’s a really great photo that reappears every day. “




The film

You presented your film “Lara” here in the summer of 2019 and won three awards. A special jury award, the Ecumenical Jury Award, and Corinna Harfouch received the award for Best Actress. Did these Karlovy Vary Awards help the film gain international fame?

“It’s always touching and reassuring to see people line up outside theaters every day from nine in the morning.”

“Well, Karlovy Vary is an important festival and attracts the attention of other festivals. Moreover, we received good reviews in the international press from the very beginning. It is not without significance that the film starts well, that it is seen, that it is noticed. And if he still gets awards, that’s no better. From this point of view, it was a very good start for us. My first film didn’t have an award, it was a different section, but it was also the start of a really amazing journey. In the case of “Lara” it was fantastic that we could take these two awards with us. Incidentally, it was Corinna’s second award in Karlovy Vary. “




Photo: Markéta Kachlíková, Radio Praga International

In 2012, you were here with your debut film “Oh boy”, in 2019 with “Lara”. When are you coming to Karlovy Vary with the new film? Can you expect it?

“So the plan is that we shoot in February, March 2023. I usually cut a little longer, and I like to spend my time in the editing room with the movie. So I’m trying to count now … That would be 2024. Unless the movie cuts itself and we’re ready to send it to Karel in May, we can even talk about next year. But for that to happen, things would have to turn out very well. As soon as the movie is cut, Mr. Oh will receive my mail. “

“As soon as my new film is edited, Mr. Oh will receive my mail.”

What should the film be about? The script is now ready …

“Exactly, the script is ready. We are in the process of financing and auditing the film. It is about a man who lost himself a bit in his life. It begins as a classic drama about someone who has lost touch with the world around them. However, the movie changes genres a bit and becomes a modern film noir, which also has a few puzzles to solve. So a wild mix of drama, film noir and black comedy. “




Photo: Markéta Kachlíková, Radio Praga International

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