28/5 — 1/6 & 9 — 15/9/2021
61st International Film Festival
for Children and Youth
6. 9. 2020

Day 3 – Sunday 6 September - Guardian angel of the day award

I have this notebook at home for collecting promising projects and production rumours. Somewhere in the middle of that book, on the bottom of a right page, is a note that says: HUNGRY BEAR TALES – follow up closely! This morning, five years after I took that note, I find myself in the cinema surrounded by a bunch of very young visitors watching the Hungry Bears compilation programme. It’s such a pleasure when plans finally become reality, and even exceed my high expectations.

Zlin festival weekends are for family audiences, and they show up en masse. Some school screenings this week have been cancelled, but the people are not forsaking their festival. Families continue to take their kids to the cinema, as they have done for 60 years, underlining the importance of this event for them.

Which was proven in yet another event. Today the exhibition opens with photos from the festival history, put together with great care by Jaroslava Hynstova, and for which she wrote a series of wonderful stories and anecdotes that capture the history of the festival in all its facets. I enjoyed them every time they were posted on the festival website, as they appealed to several generations of festival goers. The pictures testify to the enormous impact of this festival on the entire region. From today on, I see people strolling along the panels, carefully reading the accompanying texts.

The moment I checked into the Hotel Moskva I already knew: sooner or later I will lose that key. Yesterday it already happened; the lady behind the reception gave me a reproaching look. "Try to be more careful, we don’t have another spare one." Today the waitress in the Tam Tam restaurant comes to me: “I recognize you! You forgot your key here yesterday. I just had it delivered to the hotel.” She deserves my "guardian angel of the day" award.

Some things still leave a void in the current festival edition. Children may only enter the kids village on the market square with written permission from their parents. Accidental passers-by, attracted by the festivities, are not allowed in. The square looks rather empty. And there are only two red carpet ceremonies. The festival avoids attracting the masses. Events like the red carpet and the fireworks are allowed to take place, but cannot be promoted. 

That is why there is no dancing after the screening of INTO THE BEAT (read the interview here), although everyone seems to be really into it. I once heard someone claim that he could tell from the steps of the visitors what kind of film they had just seen - someone who just saw a western walks out of the cinema very differently than a Schwarzenegger adept.  The German film, which has its international festival premiere here in Zlin, drags the audience into an exciting dance party. The story neatly follows the copybook, but it keeps your heart beating to the rhythm of the film. Behind the colourful facade is a lot of pain and loneliness, as dancing mainly becomes a way to mask your grief. I discover the whole new experience of crying behind a facemask. I can actually recommend it, it is quite practical.

On the hotel terrace, consternation is huge. It was just announced that Jiri Menzel has died at the age of 82. The director, who has contributed so much to Czech heritage, was a regular guest in Zlin. Many of the people here have once worked with him. From the international youth film community, we express our condolences to Czech film fans. From tomorrow on, a beautiful photo of Menzel will be shown on screen prior to many festival screenings. Tonight he is saluted with slivovitz. Despite the great sorrow, people hang around on the terrace until the early hours of the morning. How do I know? Because someone told me, of course.