This Wednesday the FilmFestival Cottbus and the East-West co-production market connecting cottbus (coco) celebrated the onset of the new year at the traditional East European Brunch, held to coincide with the Berlinale, within the framework of which two awards were conferred.
Events were kicked off with the conferment by Dr. Gertraude Müller-Ernstberger,director of the Munich based Agency for Film and Television Rights (GWFF), togetherwith FilmFestival Cottbus Programme Director Bernd Buder, of a scholarship to the valueof 4,500 EUR to Radka Babincová. The twenty-three-year-old Slovak, currently a studentof production at the Academy of Performing Arts (VŠMU) in Bratislava, can point toexperience in the fields of short film, content development and film distribution. “I'moverwhelmed by the conferment of this award. The scholarship will help me to fulfil mydream of studying at the University of California's (UCLA) School of Theatre, Film andTelevision after graduating in Bratislava”, said the happy scholarship holder, who wenton to thank the FilmFestival Cottbus and the GWFF for the award.Prior to this opening award ceremony Bernd Buder, following on from welcomingspeeches from Brandenburg State Secretary Martin Goholt (Plenipotentiary ofBrandenburg to the Federation and Commissioner for International Affairs) andMedienboard Berlin-Brandenburg managing director Kirsten Niehuus, gave thosepresent a brief preview of this year's 27th festival programme. Alongside the threecompetition categories, feature film, youth film and short film, which will againencompass the fascinating diversity of East European cinema, the festival will featureten additional programme sections aimed at audiences both young and old. TheFilmFestival Cottbus will furthermore again bridge the gap between international cinemaand regional filmmaking. “This year the FilmFestival Cottbus intends to place particularemphasis on history and politics”, explains Bernd Buder with reference to this year'sSpecials: “The 'Focus' will take a look at the Vietnamese diaspora in (Eastern) Germany,Poland and the Czech Republic, thus reflecting on a significant chapter from the historyof migration that covers diverse forms of migration such as flight from violent conflictand economically-motivated migration. Further Specials sections will be dedicated toBelarus, home to a little-known film industry that is currently witnessing the growth ofan independent scene, as well as the multicultural region of Upper Silesia, longcharacterised by a traditionally pronounced sense of regional identity. To mark theoccasion of the centenary of the October Revolution the film series 'Fraternal Kiss!Vision and Everyday Existence of the Socialist Age', which will be taken on a nationwidetour in the run-up to the festival, looks at how Eastern Europe's filmmakers havereflected on the contradictions between socialist utopia and everyday life, as well asideology and a longing for freedom, beginning with the onset of the Cold War. The needto scrutinise and reflect on system-induced deficiencies is especially acute at a timewhen facts are trampled underfoot and populist governments with an open disdain forthe rule of law are on the rise.”As has now become tradition, the East-West co-production market connecting cottbus,which takes place parallel to the FilmFestival Cottbus, also handed out an award: theSpecial Pitch Award went to Jan P. Matuszyński from Poland. Having featured with hisdebut film THE LAST FAMILY in the Feature Film Competition of last year's 26thFilmFestival Cottbus, he was awarded the Award for Best Debut Film, financed by theBTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and the Film University Babelsberg and worth a total of 3,000EUR. The accolade was accepted on Matuszyński's behalf by his producer Leszek Bodzak.The Special Pitch Award furthermore offers the winner the chance to attend coco 2017(9-10th November), where he and a producer are to present the director's latest project.connecting cottbus, one of the industry's longest established co-production markets, haslong established itself as a centre of expertise for those interested in exchangingexperience and knowledge on East-West feature film co-productions. This year coco isdue to present ten carefully curated film projects, all of which either originate in EasternEurope or bear relation to the region. In the words of coco director Rebekka Garrido: “anumber of coco films have gone on to be real success stories, with several featuring atthe Academy Awards. Amongst recent Oscar submissions, THE HIGH SUN, A GOOD WIFEand KILLS ON WHEELS really stood out from the crowd. We are all very much lookingforward to the 19th coco, to take place in November 2017.”The 27th FilmFestival Cottbus will take place between November 7th and 12th 2017. Lastyear, over the course of six festival days, a total of over 200 films from forty-fivecountries drew in excess of 20,000 visitors to screenings and the festival's supportingprogramme. The FilmFestival Cottbus is generously supported by the Federal State ofBrandenburg, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, the city of Cottbus, as well as theEuropean Union's Creative Europe – MEDIA-Programme, the German Federal ForeignOffice and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM).