FNE at Jameson Cinefest: Austria's Breathing Take Main Prize

By Cathy Meils

    MISKOLC, HUNGARY: The 8th Jameson CineFest (www.cinefest.hu) awarded tthe Austrian film Breathing (Atmen) directed by Karl Markovicx the Emeric Pressburger Prize, named for the Oscar-winning native son of the northeastern Hungarian city of Miskolc.

    The festival, which took place 17-25 September in the Urania and Beke Cinema, also gave award of the ecumenical jury as well as the Hungarian film critics award to the film, which was the directing debut of the Austrian actor and has been selected as Austria's Oscar competitor in the foreign language film category.

    Another Austrian directing debut, Michal by Markus Schleinzer (best known as the casting director for Michael Haneke) won the main jury's grand prize.

    Hungarian producer Emőke Vágási received the Film New Europe Visegrad Prix for best coproduction for Best Intentions, a Romanian-Hungarian coproduction directed by Adrian Sitaru.

    The festival was a magnet for Hungarian filmmakers, exhibitors, and distributors, who gathered in Miskolc for conferences and discussions on the effects of the funding crisis which has effectively shut down much of the film industry. Film production was almost entirely halted -- Vagosi's coproduction was one of the few exceptions, and it was made without state support -- but all other sectors of the industry were also affected. Distributors and exhibitors noted that the box office dropped 7% in the first six months of 2011 -- the equivalent of the percentage of box office that Hungarian films had accounted for in the past. And while producers and filmmakers were hesitantly optimistic about the newly announced call for grants, there was no state funded relief for art house distributors and exhibitors, educational programming, film festivals, and film publications.

    Miskolc's Jameson Cinefest assumed an even greater role among for the film industry as a result. Festival director Tibor Biro secured regional funding as well as a long term sponsorship for the festival through the Jameson distillery, which was on prominent display throughout the festival. The festival also heralded its connection with pioneering film industry figures from the region, including Pressburger, Paramount Pictures founder Adolf Cukor, and Fox Film founder William Fox. The festival management is building on its past with the 2010 launch of a regional film fund to bring film production to the region, while remembering the past -- one of the more touching events of the festival was the laying of a wreath at the birthplace of Pressburger with a speek by Pressburger biographer Ian Christie.

    A complete list of prize winners follows:

    Emeric Pressburger Prize: Breathing (d. Karl Markovicz, EPO Filmproduction, www.epofilm.com)

    Grand Prix: Michal (d. Markus Schleinzer, www.geyrhalterfilm.com)

    Best Short Film: Raju (d. Max Zahle,www.hamburgmediaschool.com)

    Best Documentary: Caught Between Two Worlds (d. Viktor Oszkar Nagy,www.campfilm.eu)

    Best Animation: A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensation (d. Martin Wallner & Stephan Leuchtenberg, www.dancing-squirrel.com)

    Ecumenical Award: Breathing

    Critics Award: Breathing

    Film New Europe Visegrad Prix: Best Intentions, producer Emoke Vigasi (d. Adrian Sitaru,www.corleonisfilms.hu,www.hifilm.ro, www.4prooffilm.ro)

    FICC Award: Cracks in the Shell (d. Christian Schwochow, www.teamworx.de)

    Best Visual Concept: Attack the Block (d. Joe Cornish)