Czech President Petr Pavel surprised guests at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Wednesday afternoon. Pavel and First Lady Eva Pavlová attended a screening of the new Czech sci-fi film Restore Point (Bod obnovy), which had its world premiere at the festival on Monday.
Pavel and his wife arrived on the red carpet in front of festival headquarters Hotel Thermal shortly after noon on Wednesday. Pavel’s advisor Tomáš Lebeda joined the first couple for the screening at Thermal’s small hall.
Afterwards, Pavel met with members of the KVIFF team including Executive Director Kryštof Mucha, Production Manager Petr Lintimer, and Artistic Director Karel Och. Later, the Czech president had a one-on-one with Karlovy Vary International Film Festival President Jiří Bartoška.
With today’s visit, Pavel becomes the first Czech president in a decade to attend the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Former president Miloš Zeman had previously declined an invitation to attend the festival in 2013, and avoided it throughout his two terms. Zeman later called KVIFF festival guests “snobs.”
Former presidents Václav Havel and Václav Klaus, meanwhile, were regular attendees who made a point to visit the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival annually during their terms. Pavel continues their tradition of supporting the Czech Republic’s largest film festival, and one of the world’s oldest.
Despite the high-profile lineup of Hollywood stars at this year’s festival, the visit from the Czech President was previously unannounced and surprised many in attendance at Hotel Thermal.
According to his spokesperson Markéta Řeháková, Pavel would only be attending the festival on Wednesday, and specifically to draw attention to both the festival itself and Czech creators.
“The program is private, the goal is to highlight the importance of the festival and the work of young Czech creators,” Řeháková noted.
The Czech President joins an impressive lineup of special guests at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival that also includes Russell Crowe, Ewan McGregor, Alicia Vikander, and Robin Wright, who also arrived in Karlovy Vary on Wednesday and will be awarded during the closing ceremony on Saturday.