With the awards ceremony and screening of The Band's Visit, debut feature by Israeli director Eran Kolirin, the 19th Ljubljana International Film Festival concluded on Sunday.
The Kingfisher Award is presented to the best film from the Perspectives section by Mobitel. This year's winner, Hunger by British director Steve McQueen, was announced by president of the international jury, Petra Seliškar. "The film impressed us with its formal ambition and inventiveness, as well as the use of intense commitment and conviction of its extraordinary central performances. We also admired its willingness to tackle controversial and topical political subject matter. Without compromising the bleakness of the situation, the film still managed to offer some sense of hope through its sensitive portrayal of an unbroken spirit of resistance." The prestigious award was bestowed by executive director of Mobitel, Klavdij Godnic, to actor Stuart Graham, who pointed out that Steve McQueen was one of the brightest lights in the future of film and that Hunger is merely the first step, but a step in the right direction.
The viewers also selected their favourite film. The Dragon Audience Award was given to Katyn by Polish director Andrzej Wajda. The award was presented by Breda Brezovar Papez, corporate director of Tobacna Ljubljana (Festival donor), and received by producer Kamil Przelecki who explained: "It's an honour for me to receive this award on behalf of the director. Unfortunately Mr Wajda cannot be with us tonight, as he is working. He's 83 and still works. He's one of those auteurs who do not make films for the journalists or the juries but the audiences. And that's why this award carries a special worth."
This year the Best Short Film Award was introduced and bestowed to 8-minute Land and Bread, "an eternal story of birth, suffering and death, told rigorously in a minimalist style of rare splendour" by Mexican director Carlos Armella. It was presented by member of the international jury, Manca Dorrer, and Toni Zupancic, representative of the Apple VAD. Special mention went to Vučko by Slovenian director Matevz Luzar "for its ability to show through telling details the sad but funny adventures of a lonesome pensioner's days". On behalf of the three-member international jury, the FIPRESCI Prize was presented by Maja Bogojević to Ballast by American director Lance Hamer "for its innovative use of narrative techniques, for the emotional charge it conveys through minimalist directing approach, and for the collective energy generated by its non-professional, but formidable, cast." Hosted by Aleksandra Balmazovic and entertained by singer Neisha, the evening began with the first ITAK Filmfest Award Names by Mitja Mlakar, Mojca Pernat and Miha Subic (Caveman Pictures production house). The award was bestowed by Mobitel d.d. representative for best film shot with a mobile phone. The award was given to 2-minute Karmen Stamulak and film director Matevz Luzar, who expressed his hope that the young filmmakers might pursue a promising career. The ceremony was brought to an end with the screening of Kolirin's The Band's Visit when we all said farewell to teenage LIFFe, already looking forward to next year's film feasts.