CEE Films Shine at Art Film Fest

By Cathy Meils

    TRENCIANSKE TEPLICE, SLOVAKIA: There were more winners at Art Film Fest (www.artfilmfest.sk) than just those accepting prizes at the closing ceremony on 25 June 2011 in the mountainside spa resort town. The festival itself emerged with a winning formula, setting the stage for a strong 20th anniversary celebration in 2012.

    Symbolic of what's right with the festival was obvious with the first award of the evening, a prize for Slovak filmmakers who have done the most to promote Slovak film abroad, sponsored by the media company Film Europe (www.filmeurope.eu) and given by Film Europe CEO Ivan Hronec. The award went to the young director of The House/Dom Zuzana Liova, as Hronec noted, "We must recognize our young filmmakers or they will fly away."

    It wasn't only the young Slovaks who were the recipients of recognition. Earlier that day, Slovak character actress Zuzana Kronerova was lauded with the festival's Actor's Mission award in front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 people. Other notable Slovaks adding to the festival's excitement included jury president and director Juraj Jakubisko, awards presenter an actress Emilia Vasaryova, and Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova.

    The festival added an industry component that was a perfect match for its size and energy. MIDPOINT (midpoint-center.eu), a training programme for new CEE film school graduates who are beginning their professional careers, was held mid-week, and a presentation by the Slovak Film Institute (www.sfu.sk) of Slovak films in development and in production took place at the end of the week. The two events attracted a good mix of local and foreign professionals, while the festival's programme of films captured a mix of tourists that included young film fans and local residents. The overall atmosphere was mildly reminiscent of the Karlovy Vary film festival 20 years earlier, before it became the regional powerhouse. Art Film looks very much like a festival to watch.

    Festival director Peter Nagel and his programming team partner Martin Ciel were praised for a selection of films, which included smart choices from the recent Cannes festival along with a competition heavy on Central European films. Russian entry Silent Souls (dir. Alexei Fedorchenko) won the best film prize, and young Polish director Jan Komasa was present to accept the best director prize for his film Suicide Room, a winner at the recent Gdynia Polish Film Festival following its debut at the Berlinale.

    A list of festival winners follows:

    Best Film: Silent Souls (Ovsianki), d. Alexei Fedorchenko, Russia

    Best Director: Jan Komasa, Suicide Room (Sala samobojcow), Polan, Producer: Studio Filmowe KADR (www.sfkadr.com) Supported by the Polish Film Institute (www.pisf.pl). International Sales LevelK (www.levelk.dk

    Best Actor: Miroslav Krobot, The House (Dom), Slovakia, Producer Fog ‘n' Desire Films (www.fogndesirefilms.com)

    Best Actress: Judit Bardos, The House (Dom), Slovakia

    Special Mentions: Winter Vacation (Han Jia), d. Li Hongqi, China; Michael, d. Markus Schleinzer, Austria

    Best Short Film: Tussilago, d. Jonas Odell, Sweden

    Award of the City of Trencianske Teplice: Michael, d. Markus Schleinzer, Austria

    Film Europe Award: Zuzana Liova, d. The House (Dom), Slovakia