COTTBUS: The Bulgaria/Qatar coproduction Sister / Sestra by Sveta Tsotsorkova won Best Film at the 29th edition of FilmFestival Cottbus, which concluded on 10 November 2019.
Women won prizes in only four of the 12 categories, which made the best actress award all the more notable, with the ensemble cast of the actresses in Aga’s House sharing the award. Slovakia took two prizes: Teodor Kuhn won best director for By a Sharp Knife and Marko Skop’s film Let There Be Light won the U18 Youth Film Competition. Bosnia & Herzegovina's film Full Moon won both the Ecumenical Jury award and the best actor prize.
Festival director Bernd Buder noted the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which coincides with the festival each year and cements Cottbus Film Festival’s place as the first festival to celebrate and sustain the richness of film in the territories which comprised the former Soviet Union. "The films of the 29th FilmFestival Cottbus fascinated industry guests and cinema-goers with their stylistic diversity and analytical sharpness. Thirty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Eastern European cinema reflects social, historical and personal experiences with the unusual perspectives it uses to tell its stories. It interferes with the current discussions on relevant topics in a refreshingly honest and emotionally touching way,” Buder said.
The festival has a long-standing synergy with its parallel industry event connecting cottbus. Each year’s festival winner is invited to pitch their next film at connecting cottbus. The festival in return selects several films which have participated in connecting cottbus. This year that amounted to four films, including Ines Tanovic’s Bosnian/Croatian/Romanian/Slovenian/Montenegrin film The Son, pitched here in 2015. At a panel presentation, Tanovic said she met her Romanian coproducer at connecting cottbus. Bartosz Konopka’s The Mute was selected as part of the Polskie Horyzonty section and the Turkish/German/Romanian coproduction, pitched in 2016, was screened in the Spectrum section.
The festival now has a solid standing within Germany, with strong financial and governmental support for the festival, a healthy bounty of prizes, which now total over 75,000 EUR, and sustained attendance at screenings, from a largely local audience.
Winners of the 29th edition of FilmFestival Cottbus:
Best Film: Sister (Bulgaria, Qatar) Directed by Svetla Tsotsorkova Produced by Omega Films Coproduced by Audiovideo Orpheus, the Doha Film Institute
Best Director: By a Sharp Knife / Ostrým nožom (Slovakia, Czech Republic) Directed by Teodor Kuhn Produced by nutprodukcia Coproduced by Madness Productions, RTVS and nutprodukce in cooperation with Home Media Production Supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Slovak Literary Fund and the Czech Cinematography Fund
Best Actress: the ensemble cast of the actresses in Aga's House / Shpia e Agës (Kosovo, Croatia, France, Albania) Directed by Lendita Zeqiraj Produced by N'ART FILMS Coproduced by WOOF FILMS, Sacrebleu Productions, SKA-NDAL, SY13 Supported by the Kosovo Cinematography Center, the Albanian Center of Cinematography, the City of Vrgorac, the MEDIA Programme, Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo
Best Actor: Alban Ukaj for Full Moon / Pun Mjesec (Bosnia & Herzegovina) Directed by Nermain Hamzagic Produced by SCCA/pro.ba Coproduced by BHRT Supported by Ministry of Culture and Sport of Kanton Sarajevo and the Film Fund of Bosnia & Herzegovina
Best Short Film: Franka (Belarus)Directed by Mitriy Semenov-Aleynikov
Special Prize: The Last Trip to the Sea / Ultimul Drum Spre Mare (Romania)Directed by Adi Voicu
Best U18 Youth Film: Let There Be Light (Slovakia, Czech Republic) Directed by Marko Skop Produced by Artileria ( Slovakia), Negativ (Czech Republic) Supported by Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Czech Film Fund, Slovak Radio and TV, Czech TV and Eurimages
DIALOG Prize: Deva (Hungary)Directed by Petra Szocs
Best Debut Film: The Diary of Diana Budisavlejevic / Dnevnik Diane Budisavljevic (Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia)Directed by Diane Budisavljevic
FIPRESCI Prize: The Sun about Me Never Sets (Russia)Directed by Liubov BorisovaProduced by Hulahop (Croatia)Coproduced by December (Slovenia), This and That (Serbia)Supported by the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Slovenian Film Centre, Film Center Serbia, Creative Europe MEDIA, Eurimages
Ecumenical Jury Prize: Full Moon / Pun Mjesec (Bosnia & Herzegovina) Directed by Nermain Hamzagic Produced by SCCA/pro.ba Coproduced by BHRT Supported by Ministry of Culture and Sport of Kanton Sarajevo and the Film Fund of Bosnia & Herzegovina
Audience Award: The Sun about Me Never Sets (Russia)Directed by Liubov Borisova