55th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival or How my mom got a hug from Johnny Depp

Once upon a time at 55th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic. One sad moment trigged this unforgettable experience actually. Our longtime friend and founder of Disway - a social travel network for disabled, Jirka Maule, died not so long ago. He was a great guy, who ended up in a wheelchair because of motorcycle accident at the age of 18. He was lucky to have family with children and he lived to the fullest. He admired and was very supportive of our travels around the world.

We attended the funeral and still couldn´t believe that this wonderful and always optimistic man is no longer with us.

My mom was sure that we have to do something to assuage grief and feel better. But where to go at the almost end of summer holidays?

What about Karlovy Vary where we haven´t been yet? The film festival was about to start in few days, the accommodation may be a problem. So what let´s give it a try, we might be lucky.

When I realised there is Václav Havelka, frontman of Please The Trees band, in the KVIFF program, we decided. He´s my long time friend or rather brother from another mother.

He was supposed to play at the festival accompanied by ladies from Elpida choir. We like the atmosphere of summer festivals, why not to try the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. My friend Václav and the ladies rock!

The most important was to find some accessible accommodation. A booking web offered us perhaps the very last one they had in Karlovy Vary. The price was comparable with the accommodation at Uluru in Australia. As we hadn´t been anywhere for almost two years thanks to coronavirus, we said to each other, let´s go for it.

What a great choice it was, even though the hotel was located in a quite steep hill. My mom had kind of work out for a few days. Thanks mom, for your effort every day of our stay.

It was a perfectly located place. We had Thermal hotel, hotel Pupp and the Municipal theater in walking distance.

We hadn´t planned any movie on the day of our arrival. The city of Karlovy Vary is quite far from our town and we wanted to find out how everything works first.

I read that first thing we must have is a wristband attached, for the festival staff to know we are fully vaccinated. It helped us to move around more easily and let in to halls to watch the movies.

With the wristbands in place, we found the accreditation hall inside Thermal where Cinema without Barriers stall stands. People there are very helpful with tickets, transportation and everything else disabled might need. They will give you all necessary information.

It is possible to reserve the tickets personally or over the phone only one day ahead. If the film is very popular, don´t be surprised, you won´t be lucky to get them. How long it took for the biggest movie screening to be sold out? Two minutes. It can be surprising fact when you attend the festival for the first time.

Of course, the first thing we did after our arrival, was to have a picture on the red carpet. Disabled are allowed to enter it, because there´s a ramp to the building. You can ask the security guards to move the barrier.

Viewers get in through here to the Grand Hall where the movie screnings take place. We were lucky to see our favorite fella Johhny Depp for the first time here.

He presented Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan documentary as a producer. He came along with Victoria Mary Clarke, who is a wife of Shane starring in this documentary and also the director Julien Temple and last but not least Stephen Deuters. They all shared their stories they have with this legendary musician Shane.

The Irish documentary was raw and interesting. What pleased me was to catch a glimpse of Lisa O'Neill and our all time fav Glen Hansard in the movie.

What an amazing experience we had at Municipal theater the very next day. We were lucky to be at the screening of Minamata, which Johnny Depp presented. He played a leading role of a photojournalist William Eugene Smith, who captured the horrible cruelty of what people had to go through in Japanese city of Minamata. Ordinary people were poisoned by mercury that a local chemical company released.

It took a while to Johnny Depp to arrive, but he simply tried his best not to dissapoint his fans and signed as many pictures and papers as possible. He entered the theater at last.

Even here, the fans tried to catch his attention and get his autograph and Johnny granted them their wish.

He waved them good bye, slowly started to walk away when someone caught his attention. My mom holding a little bottle with her ginger remedy in her hand. He turned around and almost discreetly returned back. She said: „A little present for you“. Johhny Depp took the bottle from her.

And not only that! As a true gentleman he got down on his knee and gave her a big hug. Everyone in the theater was laughing and clapping. Good vibes indeed.

You can look at a video by Lenka Krobotová:

We´ve been playing it over and over ever since and can´t stop laughing. Johhny Depp is an excellent actor and I would like to thank him for making us laugh like this.

We came to Karlovy Vary Film Festival to cheer up and who would have thought that it will be Johnny Depp himself doing this little étude with my mom. Never in our wildest dreams did we think something like this would happen. Thank you, Johnny.

And last but not least.

It was getting dark. We are on our way to the hotel and pass by a restaurant. Four ladies had stood in front of it. My mom overheard dialect of Ostrava region and said: „What´s up ladies, are you waiting for Depp?“ They said: „Yeah, but shush for nobody to know. The stars are supposed to come here for dinner.“

We stay there for a while. The ladies wanted to have a picture with the one, who got a hug from Depp. In the meantime, a black car had stopped by the entrance of the restaurant. Yet another star of Karlovy Vary Film Festival stepped out of the car, an actor and writer Ethan Hawke.

We didn´t get to see his First Reformed movie, but my mom asked him: „Picture, please, with my daughter.“ And she turned my direction. He came to me and we even got to chat a little. He was really kind.

A fairy Victoria Mary Clarke was all smiles and kindness.

And the icing on the cake, Academy Award winning and really tall director Jan Svěrák.

We had seen so much and had met so many wonderful people at this festival. Unbelievable.

I think all those amazing people and unforgettable moments got in our way thanks to Jirka, our good friend.

Thank you, Jirka! Our guardian angel.