Film Noir in a Czech Castle! Noir Film Fest Returns to Křivoklát
Now it its fifth year, the unique Noir Film Festival in Křivoklát is a little different from the average Czech film festival in a couple ways.
First, as the name implies, it’s all about film noir, with a focus on 1940s & ‘50s Hollywood pulp detective stories, but also the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Humphrey Bogart, foreign noir (including some classic 60s Czechoslovak noir), and smattering of modern neo-noir.
Second, it takes place in a majestic location: the famed Křivoklát Castle, which has stood since the 12th century. The films are not screened in the market town of Křivoklát, which surrounds the Castle, but actually inside the Castle’s storied halls and courtyards, and even in places normally inaccessible to tourists.
It’s a film fest like no other, and an experience well worth having. Especially if you haven’t previously been to Křivoklát, which is just an hour from Prague by car.
This year’s Noir Film Festival presents a range of films through sections like Trains in Film Noir, which includes classics like Richard Fleischer’s The Narrow Margin and Fritz Lang’s Human Desire, and Noir South of El Paso, such as Anthony Mann’s Border Incident.
Other sections are dedicated to iconic actor Humphrey Bogart (High Sierra, Conflict, Key Largo, and In a Lonely Place will be screened) and director Alfred Hitchcock, a returning favorite among the festival program; Hitch classics Shadow of a Doubt (oft quoted as the director’s personal favorite), Notorious, and The Wrong Man will hit Křivoklát’s halls this year.
Sections with, perhaps, some lesser-known films include highlights from Mexican Film Noir (The Other One, The Kneeling Goddess) and Czechoslovak Film Noir (Ninety Degrees in the Shade, A Game Without Rules).
Special screenings include a tribute to actress Lizbeth Scott (Too Late for Tears), actor Robert Mitchum (Out of the Past), Paul Thomas Anderson’s criminally underseen Pynchon adaptation Inherent Vice, and the new Slovak film The Cleaner (Čistič).
For the dedicated, the Fest will also host two marathon screenings of recent HBO shows: Steven Zallian’s excellent The Night Of, and the local (and highly acclaimed) production Pustina (Wasteland) from Alice Nellis and Ivan Zachariáš.
One side note: the 12th century Castle has not been optimized for modern cinema, and some screenings may feel compromised; a presentation of Hitchcock’s Spellbound last year - scheduled for the courtyard but moved inside due to the threat of rain - was hindered by sound problems as the audio reverberated throughout the Castle walls.
Still, the experience of seeing these classic films in such an iconic location is something to savor despite some small inconveniences.
This year’s Noir Film Festival will run from August 17 - 20. Individual tickets to screenings can be purchased on-site during the event, and typically run from about 90 - 120 crowns per film. A festival-long Noir Pass, which grants up to 15 tickets throughout the festival, can be had for 950 crowns. More info on the Noir Film Festival official website.
If you’re planning to go to the Noir Film Fest this year or in the future, or are just visiting the beautiful Křivoklát Castle for a weekend, I can heartily recommend lodging at the Orlí hnízdo Bed and Breakfast, located a scenic two-kilometer forest hike away from the Castle grounds.
Run by a Frenchman and his family who provide a delicious breakfast for guests (and an excellent selection of wines for the evening), it’s been a pleasure to stay there during previous festivals.
Lead photo via Wikimedia / Truespin