FNE at KVIFF 2019: Prize Winners: Bugaria’s The Father Wins Grand Prix

Written by
The Father by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov The Father by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov

KARLOVY VARY: The Bulgarian film The Father / Bashtata (Bulgaria, Greece) directed by Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov took home the Crystal Globe and a cash prize of 25, 000 USD at the 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, held from 28 June to 6 July in the Czech spa town of Karlovy Vary.

Films from the region picked up a large share of the top prizes with films from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, the Ukraine, Russia in the official competitions, while non-statutory awards went to coproductions from Kosovo, Croatia, Estonia and Albania.

The FIPRESCI International Critics Prize went to The August Virgin / La virgen de agosto (Spain) directed by Jonás Trueba, while the daily ratings of the films in the Main Competition and East of the West competitions as well as the Czech film programme organised by FNE and FIPRESCI were hotly followed. To see how the FNE Critics rated the films click HERE.

FNE spoke exclusively to the directing team of Kristian Gozeva and Petar Valchanov about their winning film The Father, which is based on a true incident where someone got a phone call from the deceased after a funeral, that they heard about and developed the idea into a script for a fiction film. “We were impressed by the idea of how easily people wanted to believe the cause of the call was supernatural instead of the real explanation, which as it turned out was just a technical thing with the phone company.”

Grozeva and Valchanov are a husband and wife team that have become an international success story for Bulgaria. Grozeva is a former journalist and Valchanov comes from an artistic background as a painter and film school graduate. They have had international hits with their two previous films The Lesson and Glory, and they are now in preparation for their third film in what will become a trilogy, Triumph, which is set to start shooting in 2020. Grozeva said that the ideas for their films often come from small items in the news that catch her attention. 

They said that despite the success of their earlier films at international festivals they struggle like most art-house films to find an audience at home. “Glory for example had 30 000 admissions in France and only 10 000 in Bulgaria,” Said Grozeva. She hopes that the new film law currently being discussed in Bulgaria will mean that public funding be used to benefit a larger number of smaller budget films.

Full list of KVIFF Prize Winners:

Main Competition

Grand Prix – Crystal Globe:
The Father / Bashtata (Bulgaria, Greece)
Directed by Kristina Grozeva, Petar Valchanov
Produced by Abraxas Film
Coproduced by Graal Films
Supported by the Bulgarian National Film Center

Special Jury Prize:
Lara (Germany)
Directed by Jan-Ole Gerster

Best Director:
Tim Mielants for Patrick (Belgium)

Best Actress:
Corinna Harfouch for Lara (Germany)
Directed by Jan-Ole Gerster

Best Actor:
Milan Ondrík for Let There Be Light / Nech je svetlo (Slovakia, Czech Republic)
Directed by Marko Škop
Produced by by Artileria (Slovakia), Negativ (Czech Republic)
Supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, the Czech Film Fund, the Slovak Radio and TV, the Czech TV and Eurimages

Special Jury Mention:
The August Virgin / La virgen de agosto (Spain)
Directed by Jonás Trueba Spain

Special Jury Mention:
Promising new talent Antonia Giesen for her role in The Man of the Future / El hombre del futuro (Chile, Argentina)
Directed by Felipe Ríos

East of the West Competition:

East of the West Grand Prix (shared by director and producer):
The Bull / Byk (Russia)
Directed by Boris Akopov

East of the West Special Jury Prize (shared by director and producer):
My Thoughts Are Silent / Moi dumki tikhi (Ukraine)
Directed by Antonio Lukich

Documentary Films – Competition:

Grand Prix for Best Documentary (the award goes to the director):
Immortal / Surematu (Estonia, Latvia)
Directed by Ksenia Okhapkina
Produced by OU Vesilind
Coproduced by VFS Films
Supported by the Estonian Film Institute, the National Film Centre of Latvia

Documentary Special Jury Prize:
Confucian Dream / Kongzi meng (China)
Directed by Mijie Li

Právo Audience Award:
Jiří Suchý – Tackling Life with Ease / Jiří Suchý – Lehce s životem se prát (Czech Republic, Slovakia)
Directed by Olga Sommerová
Produced by Cineart TV Prague
Coproduced by the Czech Television, Arina Sk, Zámek Liteň
Supported by the Czech Film Fund, the Slovak Audiovisual Centre

Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema:
Julianne Moore (USA)

Crystal Globe for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to World Cinema:
Patricia Clarkson (USA)

Festival President’s Award for Contribution to Czech Cinematography:
Vladimír Smutný (Czech Republic)

Non-statutory Awards:

Award of International Film Critics (Awarded by FIPRESCI):
The August Virgin / La virgen de agosto (Spain)
Directed by Jonás Trueba

The Ecumenical Jury Award:
Lara (Germany)
Directed by Jan-Ole Gerster

Ecumenical Jury Commendation:
Let There Be Light (Slovak Republic, Czech Republic)
Directed by Marko Škop

Fedeora Award (Federation of Film Critics of Europe and the Mediterranean for the best film from East of the West – Competition section):
Passed by Censor / Görülmüştür (Turkey, Germany, France)
Directed by Serhat Karaaslan

Fedeora Jury Special Mention
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

Europa Cinemas Label Award (for the best European film in the Official Selection – Competition and in the East of the West – Competition):
Scandinavian Silence / Skandinaavia vaikus (Estonia, France, Belgium)
Directed by Martti Helde
Produced by Three Brothers
Coproduced by ARP Selection, Media International


Works in Progress:
Pigeon’s Milk / Moloko Ptitsy (Russia, Moldova)
Directed by Eugen Maryan
Produced by Roman Borisevich, Alexander Kushaev, Anna Shalashina

Docs in Progress:
The Silhouettes / Saayeha (Iran, Philippines)
Directed by Afsaneh Salari

Eurimages Lab Project Award:
Bottled Songs (Germany, France, USA, Finland)
Directed by Kevin B. Lee, Chloé Galibert-Laîné

KVIFF & Midpoint Development Award:
Some Birds / Valami Madarak (Hungary)
Directed by Dániel Hevér