Spies, heists, and Ukraine take the spotlight at this year's Febiofest

Ukrainian director and former political prisoner Oleh Sentsov will receive the Kristián Award, but cannot attend as he is fighting in the war.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 21.04.2022 11:10:00 (updated on 21.04.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

The 29th edition of the Febiofest International Film Festival starts April 28 and runs to May 4 with most screenings in Cinema City Slovanský dům. Additional screenings and masterclasses will take place at Kino Pilotů, Ponrepo, Edison Filmhub, lH55, Café Vzlet, Kampus Hybernská, and Empire Hall. Ticket sales start at noon on April 21.

The festival will present over 90 contemporary films plus some retrospectives. The festival will open with the comedy “The Duke,” the last film by Roger Michell, whose hits include “Notting Hill” and “My Cousin Rachel.” “The Duke,” starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, takes a comic look at a 1961 art theft.

The festival closes with “From Africa With Love,” a French spy comedy with Jean Dujardin as Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, also known as agent OSS 117. It is the 11th film to feature the character, and the third with Dujardin in the lead role.

The main competition will present distinguished debut or sophomore films from new directors. There is also a comedy competition and a competitive Amnesty International section. Each competition has seven films.

Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent in 'The Duke.' Photo: Pathe Entertainment.
Helen Mirren and Jim Broadbent in 'The Duke.' Photo: Pathe Entertainment.

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The Kristián Award, equivalent to a lifetime achievement award, will go to Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov. He will not attend the event in person as he is fighting in Ukraine against Russia. His new film “Nosorih” (Rhino) will be presented in its Czech premiere, as well as two more of his films.

"He has sent us a photo of himself with a weapon," Febiofest honorary chairman Fero Fenic said at a press conference.

Sentsov, who also earned the Sakharov Prize awarded by the European Parliament, spent five years in Russian prisons. In 2015, Febiofest supported a campaign to get Sentsov released from prison.

He was arrested in Crimea in 2014 and sentenced to 20 years for alleged planning of terrorist attacks in Crimea. Russia also punished him for joining a Ukrainian nationalist organization that is banned in Russia.

Sentsov claimed he was just supporting the Euromaidan movement, which was behind the toppling of then-president Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian regime. Senstov was released as part of an exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and Russia in September 2019.

When he accepted the Sakharov Prize in 2019, he called on the EU not to trust Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The other recipient of the Kristián Award will be actor Karel Roden, who has appeared not only in Czech films but also in ones made in Hollywood and elsewhere. His new film “Nightline,” directed by Robert Sedláček, will be shown. It takes place during a radio show, where new details about an old murder case come to light.

Febiofest make headlines recently by rescinding a Kristián Award that it had previously given to Serbian director Emir Kusturica in 2017 due to his support for Putin.

The festival will include a new special section of films called “Ukraine: The Center of Europe” and the proceeds from the tickets in this section will go to humanitarian organizations and help to support Ukrainian artists.

The new non-competition section has two parts. The first will showcase films from the new generation of Ukrainian filmmakers, who have been influenced by the situation in their homeland. Valentyn Vasyanovych's film “Atlantis” presents a dystopic vision of Ukrainian society in 2025. The other section will focus on film classics.

Tickets can be purchased at individual venues or online on the Febiofest website. Up-to-date information can be found on their Facebook page.  

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