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Uma Thurman, Casey Affleck Open Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Variety logo Variety 6/30/2017 Will Tizard
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Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival’s well-heeled audiences gasped at the opening gala Friday as the fest kicked off with a slasher film theme, before honoring guests Casey Affleck and Uma Thurman with president’s prizes.

Taking his Moser crystal orb from fest prexy Jiri Bartoska, Affleck thanked the audience for turning out in droves to the small West Bohemian spa town, explaining, as an arthouse filmmaker, “you resign yourself to doing things that probably most people will never see.”

Affleck, in the Czech Republic to screen his ethereal non-horror film “A Ghost Story” by David Lowery, said earlier he is sold on such boutique projects and will carry on working with the team that just wrapped “Old Man and the Gun” with Robert Redford and Elisabeth Moss and also produced “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” a Karlovy Vary fave in 2013.

Thurman followed, saying she’s “given 31 years of my life to monkey around and tell stories about people,” thanking audiences for making that possible.

Veteran composer James Newton Howard, who conducted the Czech National Symphony Orchestra performing music from his “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” following the ceremony, accepted a Crystal Globe for contribution to world cinema and was praised as a rare talent by gala host Marek Eben, himself a musician and comedian.

Eben, commenting on the night’s opening choreography, which featured a butcher in a Hannibal Lecter-style mask slowly sharpening his cleaver before the curtain rose to reveal 21 women suspended in plastic bags that soon filled with blood, found the scene strangely relevant to international politics.

Riffing on the apparent crime victims suspended above the stage, he said that you often find such evil the higher you go in society. At the very top, he added, “That’s where the real horror starts.”

With many Czechs increasingly embarrassed by President Milos Zeman’s frequent xenophobic rants and cozying up to Vladimir Putin, Eben noted the small country finally has much in common with America: “Now you know what it’s like.”

The fest, which screened Kumail Nanjiani comedy “The Big Sick” following the awards, runs through July 8.

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