Blaga's Lessons (2023)

‘Blaga’s Lessons’ takes top prize Crystal Globe at 2023 Karlovy Vary film festival

The Bulgarian-German film Blaga’s Lessons, directed by Stephan Komandarev, has been awarded the prize of the main competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. This year’s awards were handed out at a gala awards ceremony at Hotel Thermal’s grand hall on Saturday evening.

Blaga’s Lessons tells the story of a retired teacher who falls victim to a phone scam. In order to reclaim the money she lost, Blaga starts working for the phone scammers, sacrificing all of her principles in the process.

Director Komandarev was presented with the KVIFF Crystal Globe by festival president Jiří Bartoška for his poignant social drama. The top prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival comes with a $25,000 (about 550 crowns) financial award, which is shared equally between the director and the film’s producers.

Among other awarded films at the festival, the German-Iranian drama Empty Nets received the Special Jury Award, earning $15,000 (around 325,000 crowns). Behrouz Karamizadeh‘s feature debut is a realistic drama that delves into the battle for the right to love in contemporary Iran.

Babak Jalali won Best Director Award for his work on the American film Fremont. The film tells the story of an Afghan immigrant working in a Chinese fortune cookie factory in California. Fremont has also been picked up by Aerofilms for distribution in Czech cinemas following the festival.

Eli Skorcheva‘s remarkable portrayal of the titular character in Blaga’s Lessons earned her the Best Actress Award at this year’s festival, while Herbert Nordrum took home the Best Actor Award for his role in the Swedish-Norwegian-French film Hypnosis.

The grand jury at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival was comprised of Tunisian film producer Dora Bouchoucha, American actress Patricia Clarkson, Sundance film festival programmer John Nein, Slovenian director Olmo Omerzu, and Irish actor Barry Ward.

They also bestowed a Special Mention on Cyril Aris‘ German-Lebanese documentary Dancing on the Edge of A Volcano, which exposes the challenges faced by filmmakers shooting in post-explosion Beirut.

The Audience Award at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival went to French actor and filmmaker Vincent Perez‘s historical drama The Edge of the Blade.

In the Proxima competition at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which highlights the work of emerging filmmakers, the South Korean film Birth secured the Grand Prix main prize. Birth tells the story of a young writer’s unexpected pregnancy.

Guras, an Indian-Nepalese journey that delves into the differences in mourning between children and adults, received the Special Jury Award in the Proxima Competition. Albert Hospodarsky‘s Czech disaster film Brutal Heat received a special mention from the Proxima jury.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at

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