News Variations Returns to Karlovy Vary for the Third Year in a Row

Published: October 24, 2023| 01:25 PM

On 24 and 25 November, Karlovy Vary will host the third annual Variations mini-festival, organized by the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in conjunction with the Czech Philharmonic. Audiences can again look forward to an original program featuring exceptional pre-premieres of films and concerts by the country’s leading orchestra.

“I am convinced that Variations 2023 will again be a cultural event for residents of – and visitors to – Karlovy Vary and the surrounding region,” says Jiří Bartoška, president of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

“For this year’s edition, the Czech Philharmonic has put together a series of concerts that not only present the orchestra as a whole but also offer audiences the chance to get to know its musicians as members of various smaller ensembles,” adds David Mareček, director of the Czech Philharmonic.

“Three years ago, when we came up with the idea of combining two established Czech cultural institutions – the Karlovy Vary festival and the Czech Philharmonic – it was our ambition to create a cultural event that would bring life to the autumn season and bring to Karlovy Vary another attractive program for viewers and listeners in addition to the film festival,” adds KVIFF’s executive director Kryštof Mucha. “We are glad that each edition of Variations has been met with increasing public interest.”

Film program

For this year’s Variations, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival’s programming department has decided to treat audiences to several exclusive pre-premieres.

“Outstanding films by great filmmakers are not only capable of providing an unforgettable emotional experience but can also inspire insightful reflections on important issues in life,” says the festival’s artistic director Karel Och. “Such films undoubtedly include the latest undertakings by two of the most respected directors working today, Jonathan Glazer and Woody Allen.”

Allen’s latest film, Coup de Chance, had its world premiere at this year’s Venice Film Festival. A romantic thriller, the legendary director’s fiftieth outing tells the story of a married couple whose quiet life is interrupted when the wife runs into an old friend. Critics have called Coup de Chance, which is being talked about as perhaps the last film in the director’s career, one of his best in recent years. According to Allen, this charming romantic drama set in contemporary Paris and filmed in French is “about the important role that chance and luck play in our lives.” Variations is showing the film on 25 November at 11am and 7pm at Kino Čas.

Director Jonathan Glazer’s exceptionally original drama The Zone of Interest, an adaptation of the award-winning novel by Martin Amis, took home the Grand Prix from this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film looks at the idyllic family life of Rudolf Höss, commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp. It is set in a luxury villa with a large and carefully arranged garden surrounded by a high wall, but – unlike many other films exploring the banality of evil – we never peer beyond this wall. The phrase “zone of interest,” which Martin Amis chose for the title of his 2014 book, was used by the SS to describe the area immediately surrounding the camp at Auschwitz. Like the book, the film understands this concept as a mirror that reveals the true face of evil. “I wanted to capture the contrast between somebody pouring a cup of coffee in their kitchen and somebody being murdered on the other side of the wall – the co-existence of those two extremes,” says Jonathan Glazer.

You can catch the film on 25 November at 3pm at Kino Čas.

Concert program

This year’s Variations offers an expanded music program. For several concerts, we invite audiences to visit iconic venues in Karlovy Vary such as the former Municipal Savings Bank, the Thermal Springs Colonnade, the Municipal Theatre, and the newly renovated Imperial Baths..

The Friday evening concert, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven at the Imperial Baths, features Haydn’s adaptation of the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, an excellent selection of arias from the operas of Mozart, and one of the greatest works of classical music of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. These masterpieces of classical music are presented under the direction of conductor Tomáš Netopil, with solo performances by Kateřina Kněžínková (soprano) and Petr Nekoranec (tenor). Tickets may be purchased in advance. The concert starts on 24 November at 7pm.

Due to the positive response to our past free concerts for the public, this year's Variations presents three such performances. On Friday, 11 November at 5pm in the former savings bank on Divadelní náměstí, a wind octet composed of members of the Czech Philharmonic and the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra performs works by W. A. Mozart and Carl Reinecke.

On Saturday, 25 November at 2pm at the Thermal Springs Colonnade, a chamber orchestra composed of members of the Czech Philharmonic and the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, featuring one of the Czech Republic’s leading violin virtuosos and the ensemble’s artistic director, Josef Špaček, on solo violin.

The public will also have the chance to visit the newly opened Imperial Baths for a performance by the ČaroTaj ensemble. On 25 November at 5pm in the Zander Hall, the group will present a selection of folk songs from the Moravian-Slovak border region, presented with original instrumental accompaniment and in arrangements that honor the natural charm of folk music and the beauty of its melodies, harmonies, and lyrics.

Detailed information about the program and about ticket sales may be found at


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