When we finish tonight’s pages we’ll be halfway through the week, and none too soon.
My editor and I took our relationship to a disturbing new level today. I don’t want to go into too much detail here, but one of us had a really creepy stray eyebrow that needed grooming and instead of dealing with it by himself, like a sensible adult, requested that the other one trim it with a pair of scissors swiped from the photographers’ desk. Is it possible we’ve been in this room too long?
I actually got outside today, so here are a few photographs from around town.
First, we have the view of the River Tepla. Tepla means “warm,” which this river is. Karlovy Vary is a spa town after all. The spas themselves can actually reach 163 F, which is one of the reasons people who drink the water for the spa cure are encouraged to use cups with sippy straws built in.
Here’s one of the colonnades, where the spa faithful dip their sippy cups under a burbling pipe where hot spa water rushes out. It’s been a few years since I’ve tried it, but I recall this one having a slightly spicy flavor. Really, I wouldn’t recommend any of them, unless you’ve got a thing for sulfur. But they are supposed to cure what ails you.
And now, back to the festival. Here’s the official mascot/award: The Crystal Globe. Actual globe is much smaller, but about the same weight.
Below are the ever-present backpackers. Unlike most film festivals, KVIFF has an extremely young audience, and many of these young adults come to town and camp out in a little tent village nearby, or stay in hostels. You can get a festival pass for a ridiculously cheap price, which entitles you to four tickets a day. Plus, if you really want to see a film and can’t get a ticket, you can queue up outside the cinema beforehand and hope that somebody doesn’t show. So you see a lot of pale, bleary-eyed youngsters out and about.
Here’s the early-morning line outside the box office. People start queueing up early because shows sell out.
My fitness regime always takes a hit at the festival, largely because I’m following the health regimen of a veal calf. I’m in a 6×18-foot office, which I share with four people, and it’s difficult for any one of us to move without hitting another, so we keep movement to a minimum. It’s hard to emphasize how closewe all are here, but let me just say that if I need a pen, I could grab one off anybody’s desk (except one) without even leaving my chair.
When I do emerge for food, I generally try to stay close to the hotel so I can get back quickly if I’m needed, which means that I’m generally eating Czech classics like fried cheese or fried potatoes or meat and dumplings–or pivo. I should note that the hotel this year has made major strides in the field of steamed vegetables (as in, they actually have some this year) which has been very exciting. There is still, however, the occasional culinary surprise. I’m just gonna throw this out there: Has anybody else every seen pork wrapped around a carrot? Is that a thing?
Somebody told me they’d ordered a literal ton of food for the opening party, although I have no idea how to verify that, so I’ll just repeat it here as a rumor and say that it wouldn’t surprise me. There were rooms upon rooms upon rooms full of food and drinks and people in their glad rags. And then of course there’s always a handful of journalists trying to look as though they haven’t just finished a 13-hour work day and raced home to wipe at their faces with cotton swabs and shimmy into the nicest outfit they own. (McKim, if you’re reading this, the Czechs loved your bridesmaid dress.)
In a good year, one of the stars will have a few too many and commit some minor peccadillo for our daily gossip column, but this year’s crop were distressingly well-behaved. No scandals, no flare-ups. After an hour or so, I got tired of scouting for indiscretions, so I walked home with some of the Czech writers.
One of the disorienting things about this festival is that it’s possible to spend days at a time without setting foot in any building that’s not a hotel. I sleep in one hotel and work in another, and many of my interviews and screenings are conducted in other hotels scattered around town.
The hotel I work in is not quite as pretty as the Pupp (for the record, it’s pronounced in a way that would be hilarious to a three-year-old). It’s got that Commie-tastic aesthetic you so often see in buildings that were constructed by Soviet architects, and the color scheme of the floor I work on seems to be blood-of-the-working-man-red, black-as-the-heart-of-a-capitalist, and turquoise. Because, you know, sometimes one wants a bit of color. Of course, any attempt at renovation would completely destroy its charm. We joke about the decor, but I think we’d all be terribly disappointed to see it disappear. The dark paneling, the 1960’s-era light fixtures, the Warholesque chairs–deep down inside, I think we’re all fonder of it than we want to admit.
This is in no way related to the film festival, but I’m linking to it anyway: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/26/AR2009062602538.html
OK, so I watched two more movies this morning and I can definitely say that the best film I’ve seen yet is this one. I’m set to interview the director when he gets here and I can’t wait.
It’s a parody of/homage to the blaxploitation flicks of the 1970s and it’s got it all: the picked out afros, the clumsy exposition, the stilted dialog, and the hero–who’s strong enough to take down a warehouse full of pimps and dealers, but tender enough to apologize when his conscience tells him that pimpslapping a ho into a china cabinet was crossing the line.
Better yet, it’s been picked up for distribution, so in just a few months, you yourself can watch guys like Captain Kangaroo Pimp and Mo Bitches get theirs from the hero who knows how to “use kung fu when he wanna/ have sex when he please.”