The Best Karlovy Vary Opening Ceremony Choreographies 5

When asked to picture a black-tie opening ceremony for a big film festival, you will likely think of immaculately dressed people clapping and enjoying glasses of wine or champagne before or after the show. You will also likely imagine a comedic monologue and laughter filling the event venue.

What you might not picture is flames, ice skaters on stage or dancers flying through the air. But those are exactly the kind of wild action scenes that the opening ceremony of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) in the Czech Republic has become known for.

What has been called Central Europe’s biggest cinema party of the summer pulls out all the stops to ensure that the audience in the crowded oval-shaped cinema hall of the Hotel Thermal, which can accommodate up to around 1,150 guests, is on the edge of their seats and ready to burst into thunderous applause and cheers.

Attendees of the opening event on Friday, June 28 are already wondering what the creative team of Michal and Šimon Caban has in store for them to kick off this year’s 58th edition of the festival. But in the meantime, check out THR‘s rundown of some of the wildest and most surprising stunts featured on the Karlovy Vary opening night in recent years.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2016 opening ceremony

Courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

Swimmers and a Horse on Stage
In 2016, the KVIFF opening ceremony had a lot of action-packed elements in its featured choreography. For example, dancers were jumping over a ball and chairs projected onto a wall and ducking underneath said ball, among other things.

At one point, performers ended up having changed into bathing outfits before seemingly jumping into a pool to swim away.

And then, a jockey on a horse appeared on stage. You can see some of the action from that year at the start of the video below:

2016 KVIFF opening ceremony highlights

Wailing, Horror and a Bloody Orgy
The following year, 2017, was time for on-stage horror at the KVIFF opening ceremony in a show that must have made the blood of at least some audience members freeze.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opening ceremony 2017

Courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

An actor portraying a butcher was seen sharpening a knife, while horror film-inspired scenes were shown on a screen. At the same time, performers suspended in transparent foils above the main stage were shaking and moving around amid wails as the Karlovy Vary symphony orchestra provided a sinister soundtrack. In the end, the foils were covered in (fake) blood.

The verdict at the time: a bloody good time. Check out scenes of the show in the video below.

2016 KVIFF opening ceremony highlights

Anniversaries and Nostalgia
2018 was a busy year for Czechs, and the KVIFF opening ceremony reflected that. That year wasn’t just the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918 after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It also marked 50 years since the uprising in the Prague Spring of 1968 and its suppression by the invading troops of the Warsaw Pact countries.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opening ceremony 2018

Courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

Plus, the local industry was still dealing with the recent death of Czechoslovak New Wave filmmaking icon Miloš Forman. So, no surprise then that nostalgia, historic images, the red, blue and white of the country’s flag, and a big 100 were all part of the acrobatic opening ceremony action.

Check out the video below:

2018 KVIFF opening ceremony highlights

High-flying Action Turns Things Upside Down
In 2019, male and female performers dressed in suits were suspended high above the stage to open the KVIFF festivities with energy and a big bang.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opening ceremony 2019

Courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

They ran across columns and stairs projected onto a screen – and they even had to run hanging upside-down. At the end, the columns seemingly came crashing down. What took much longer to die down was the audience’s excitement and applause.

Check out the 2019 highlight video, set to “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” showing some of the action below:

2019 KVIFF opening ceremony highlights

Virtual or Real? A DJ Gets the Party Started
Following the COVID-19 pandemic, KVIFF returned in 2022. And its opening ceremony centered on the question “virtual or real?”

That involved a DJ on a black-and-white themed stage getting the audience clapping and grooving, as well as getting street dancers to show off their best moves. “Virtual or real? What are you waiting for?” the DJ and singers then intoned. If that wasn’t enough action for anyone yet, flames erupted on stage to heat up the atmosphere some more.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opening ceremony 2022

Courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

So, yes, what are you waiting for? A video of 2022 highlights can be seen below:

Ice Skaters Glide Into Action On Stage

There was quite a bit of oohing and aahing at the Hotel Thermal in 2023 when the Karlovy Vary film festival opening ceremony started with a curtain being raised and women becoming visible. To the surprise and delight of the audience, they were ice skaters.

Indeed, after the use of fire in 2022, last year’s medium of choice for the producers of the KVIFF opening act was ice. As the performers ice-skated to dance music, they were supported by cheers from the crowd.

Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opening ceremony 2023

Courtesy of Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary

Check out the video below:

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