Astra Film Festival Awards 2019

The Awards of Astra Film Festival 2019 go to France, Belgium, Israel, Estonia and Romania! The winners of the 26th edition of Astra Film - Sibiu International Film Festival 2019 were announced on Saturday, 19 October, during the AFF 2019 Awards held at Filarmonica de Stat Sibiu. The juries of the 4 competition sections had to choose from a final selection of 46 films.

The award for ”Best Film in the International Competition” went to ”Immortal” by Ksenia Okhapkina because it reveals, from a very particular perspective, ways in which the state apparatus can shape the minds of new generations using the imperialist discourse propagated by a toxic political agenda. The jury of the International competition, Olivia Cooper-Hadjian, Martin Horyna and Claudiu Turcuș, motivated their choice: “This film is a declaration against the dangerous dynamics of nationalism that is spreading all over the world.”

”I See Reed People” by Bojina Panayatova was chosen by the jury to win the award for “Best film in the Central & Eastern European Competition”, for the complexity of the mission that the director undertook, namely to understand the nature of her family’s ties with the former communist regime in Bulgaria. The jury in the Central & Eastern European competition, Peter Dale, Zhang Yang and Mirela Nagâț, motivated their choice: “A captivating film that poses serious and profound questions on the nature of life after the fall of totalitarian regimes.”

The 11 films in the Romanian competition are very different in their approach: part of them deal with important subject matters by means of strong storytelling while others use more images than words to convey their story. This is why the jury of the competition, Michael Stewart and Miquel Martí Freixas, decided to give two awards. The award for “Best Directing in the Romania Competition” went to directors Anne Schiltz and Charlotte Gregoire for their film “Pastures New”, due to the profoundly ethical relationship that the authors have carried out with the protagonists, resulting in a film in which careful observation combines with emotion.

The award for ”Best film in the Romania Competition” went to the documentary ”Teach” by Alex Brendea for the desire to reveal the personality of a human being in all its complexity and for the decision of the director to give the audience the freedom to judge for itself. The film was developed during the Romanian Docs in Progress programme at Astra Film Festival 2016 and its international premiere was at Astra Film Festival 2019. “I have been coming to Astra Film Festival for a long time and I learned a lot of things here”, said director Alex Brendea.

”My Father’s Son” by Hillel Chaim Rate, a very sensible and cinematographic portrait of the connection between father and son, received the Award for “Best Film in the DocSchool Competition”. The jury,  Aleksandar Govedarica and Liviu Tipuriță, motivated their choice: “We appreciated the way in which the director weaves mundane gestures with moments of spirituality in the story that becomes the protagonist’s search for a purpose in his own life”. The award for “Best Directing in the DocSchool Competition” went to Hadas Hechter for the film ”The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate”. The motivation of the jury was that “we appreciated the courage, sensibility and balance with which the author confronts a dark secret from her family’s past”.

Within DocTank, the programme dedicated to industry professionals that encourages the production of documentaries in Romania and Europe, 3 out of a total of 10 projects were awarded. The Astra Film Lab Development Award offered by HBO Europe was given to a very promising project: “Our Men” by Mirona Radu. The Astra Film Lab Post-production Award offered by CineLab went to a project with a clear and coherent narrative: ”Heavy Roots” by Jacopo Marzi. The Astra Film Lab Most Promising Project offered by Pitch the Doc went to a project that goes off the beaten path and the usual schematics: “Telciu” by Vlad Petri.

”We are glad to have experienced together the Astra(l) hours of non-fiction film in Sibiu. We had the privilege of having new experiences, of discovering new worlds, of becoming richer and, perhaps, of changing ourselves during these past few days”, said Dumitru Budrala, founding director of Astra Film Sibiu.

Astra Film Festival Sibiu is held under the High Patronage of the Romanian Presidency.

Astra Film Festival 2019 is coordinated by Astra Film, CNM Astra and the Astra Film Foundation, with the support of the Sibiu County Council, the Ministry of Culture and National Identity and the National Center of Cinematography. The event is co-financed by the Sibiu Local Council through the City Hall of Sibiu.