FESTIVALS: A Simple Life Wins Black Nights

By FNE Staff

    {mosimage}The Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF,www.poff.ee), which ran from 18 to 30 November 2011, ended with a screening of The Tree of Life, with actress Fiona Shaw in attendance. Among the awards handed out,The winner of the Grand Prix of the Eurasia jury, with a scholarship of 10,000 EUR , was A Simple Life / Tao Jie (Dir. Ann Hui, China / Hong Kong).

    The film is a moving tale of an elderly woman learning about the meaning of family after suffering a stroke. Tender and elegant, it was a popular choice amongst both the jury and audiences. Other awards went to Lynne Ramsay as Best Director for We Need To Talk About Kevin (Dir. Lynne Ramsay, UK), Sven Nordin as Best Actor for Sons of Norway / Sønner av Norge (Dir. Jens Lien, Norway), Deanie Ip as Best Actress for A Simple Life / Tao Jie (Director Ann Hui, China / Hong Kong) whilst the Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance in Cinematic Language went to Cocca & Shinya Tsukamoto for Kotoko (Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan).

    The Tridens Baltic Feature Film Jury split the award for Best Film - with a prize of 5000 EUR - between two films. The first was 33 Animals of Santa Claus / 33 Zveri Ziemassvetku Vecitim (Dir. Laila Pakalnina, Latvia), a subtly humorous documentary about a woman named Santa Claus who shares her apartment with 33 animals, and Barzakh (Dir. Mantas Kvedaravicius, Finland / Lithuania) a complex story of a man who goes missing from a Chechen village. The Heave(i)n Estonian Film Award was presented to The Graveyard Keeper's Daughter / Surnuaiavahi tütar (Dir: Katrin Laur, Estonia), whilst Mart Tarnel received Best Cinematography for The Idiot / Idioot (Dir. Rainer Sarnet, Estonia).

    The North American Indie Jury bestowed their award on Starbuck (Dir. Ken Scott, Canada), a quirky and funny film about a prodigious sperm donor who soon finds that he has hundreds of children who all want to meet with him. Other awards included the FIPRESCI Award for Best Baltic Film which went to Barzakh (Dir. Mantas Kvedaravicius, Finland / Lithuania), the FICC Jury Award which went to A Simple Life / Tao Jie (Director Ann Hui, China / Hong Kong) and the NETPAC Jury Award which went to Mourning (Dir. Morteza Farshbaf, Iran). The festivals audience award went to Superclasico (Dir.Ole Christian Madsen, Denmark).

    The festival also conferred four of its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards to those who have made a unmistakable mark on the history of cinema. The recipients were Rein Raamat, the legendary Estonian animator who turned 80 this year, Rein Maran, one of the most respected and influential filmmakers in the country and Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov whose film Faust also screened during the festival. Also, the festival welcomed the ‘godfather' of Icelandic Cinema and Academy Award Nominee Fridrik Thor Fridriksson to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award.

    The awards ceremony was capped with a screening of The Tree of Life (Dir. Terence Malick, US) which was accompanied by an appearance by actress / director Fiona Shaw who stars in the movie. The renowned and respected star of stage and screen expressed her delight about being able to come to Tallinn whilst revealing more about - the often considered reclusive - Malick and his working methods.

    The director of the Black Nights Film Festival Tiina Lokk said:

    "The 15th Anniversary has been such an amazing event and I am looking forward to getting the final audiences figures through. In the meantime I am delighted that our hard-working juries enjoyed such a diverse selection of films and that we managed to end the festival with a film with the calibre of The Tree of Life. I particularly want to thank Fiona Shaw who was so gracious in coming to talk about the film. I also want to thank all the filmmakers, sponsors and audiences who made everything such a success. We're looking forward to seeing everyone again next year!"