Chop Shop wins Arsenals lottery grand prize

By Cathy Meils in Riga
    Inviting representatives from each of the 16 "winning" international competition films on stage for the closing Arsenals ceremony on September 20, the festival concluded with its traditional lottery prize drawing, giving $20,000 to U.S. film Chop Shop, directed by Ramin Bahrani.

    Those competing in the newer Baltic Film Competition earned their awards the traditional way, with jury members Frederic Goyer, Prune Engler, and Lenka Tyrpakova handing out best feature to Autumn Ball directed by Veiko Ounpuu (Estonia), best documentary to Headwind Hall directed by Priit Valkna (Estonia), and best animated film to Little Bird's Diary directed by Edmunds Jansons (Latvia).

    The FIPRESCI jury, chaired by Michel Euvrard, awarded Andalusia directed by Alain Gomis (France) from the International film competition, and the Latvian omnibus film Vogelfrei (directed byJanis Kalejs, Janis Putnins, Anna Viduleja, Gatis Smits) from the Baltic competition.

    The award for best debut, a 1,500 Euro prize given by the Austrian Embassy, went to another Latvian film, Monotony, directed by Juris Poskus.

    The Class from director Ilmar Raag (Estonia), won both the Audience Award and one of four awards given out by the church-based Interfilm Jury. The other three winning Interfilm awards went to Little Bird's Diary, also from the Baltic competion, and Chop Shop, and Silent Light, diected by Carlos Reygadas (Mexico/France/Netherlands/Germany) from the international competition.

    A special award for "Collective Creativity" went to the Russian cast and crew of The Orchard, with director Sergey Ovcharov presenting the closing night film

    The 19th edition of the festival, under the direction of its new president Elvita Ruka, was notable for the strength of the Baltic competion this year, with local audiences also showing strong support for national films across the three Baltic states. Underscoring the point: prescient Cottbus festival director Roland Rust puts the spotlight on Baltic cinema at the 18th edition, running November 11-16.