Actor Ethan Hawke to receive Festival President's Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Hawke will introduce Paul Schrader's new thriller ‘First Reformed’ at the annual festival, which starts on Aug. 20.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 05.08.2021 14:39 (updated on 05.08.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Actor Ethan Hawke is the first big name to be announced as a guest of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, to be held Aug. 20–28 in the West Bohemian spa city. Hawke is perhaps best known as an actor, but he has also written novels and screenplays, and directed both cinema and theater.

He will receive the Festival President's Award at the 55th edition of the festival. The award is given to actors, directors, and producers who have contributed in a fundamental way to the development of contemporary world cinema. The festival will open with the the world premiere of Zátopek, a biopic of the Czech runner, directed by David Ondříček.

Hawke will introduce Paul Schrader’s thriller First Reformed, in which he portrays a parish pastor in crisis of faith.

“We are thrilled to welcome to Karlovy Vary an artist we’ve been admiring for a long time. In 2018, KVIFF paid tribute to the Austin Film Society and it is exciting to extend our appreciation of this renowned organization's work by honoring an actor and director who is so closely connected to the Texas independent film scene,” festival artistic director Karel Och and executive director Krystof Mucha said.

As an actor, he made his breakthrough in Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society, playing Robin Williams’ shy student Todd. True fame came in 1995, when he starred in Richard Linklater's romantic drama Before Sunrise. That was followed by two sequels, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. He was nominated for Oscars for Best Adapted Screenplay for the latter two films.


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Those were not  Hawke’s only collaborations with Linklater. Others include Fast Food Nation, Waking Life, The Newton Boys, and Tape. Their most recent collaboration, Boyhood, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The film was shot intermittently over 12 years, chronicling the life of a child from age 6 to 18. He was nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for that film. He also had an Oscar nomination for Training Day in 2002.

Hawke recently released his first novel in 20 years, A Bright Ray of Darkness, published by Knopf in February 2021. The novel concerns a young man making his Broadway debut in Henry IV just as his marriage implodes. Hawke and author and illustrator Greg Ruth’s graphic novel Meadowlark: A Coming of Age Crime Story was published July 20. Hawke’s other written works include the novels The Hottest State and Ash Wednesday, the children’s book Rules for a Knight, and the graphic novel Indeh.

Last fall he made his television debut in Showtime’s limited series The Good Lord Bird based on the National Book Award-winning novel by bestselling author James McBride. Hawke, who executive produced and co-wrote the series, starred as 19th century abolitionist John Brown.

Behind the lens, Hawke made his directorial debut in 2001 with his drama Chelsea Walls. The film tells five stories set in a single day at the Chelsea Hotel. He made his documentary directorial debut with Seymour: An Introduction, which premiered at the 2014 Telluride Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival. The project follows the life of the legendary pianist and piano teacher Seymour Bernstein.

Most recently, Hawke co-wrote, produced and directed Blaze, which was inspired by the life of Blaze Foley, the songwriter in the Texas outlaw music movement. The film premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

The Karlovy Vary International film festival usually takes place in early July, but was pushed back due to the pandemic. The festival did not take place in 2020, though there was a small package of planned festival films that played in theaters under the banner Tady Vary.

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