The Award for Best Film Goes to Serbian Tragicomedy REQUIEM FOR MRS. J., German-Georgian Directorial Duo Nana & Simon Honoured with Two Prizes.
The 17th edition of goEast – Festival of Central and Eastern European Film came to a successful conclusion on Tuesday, May 2nd, with a festive awards ceremony at Wiesbaden’s Caligari FilmBühne. More than 12,000 guests attended the festival, hosted by Deutsches Filminstitut, providing for full cinemas and intensive lectures, discussions and talks. All in all 111 films from 29 countries were screened over the seven days of the festival, and awards worth a grand total of 50,000 euros were presented at the festival finale.
Festival director Gaby Babić emphasised: “I am very pleased to see that this year’s focus on strong female characters in cinema and female filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe is also reflected in the selected films.”
An Overview of the goEast Prize Winners
The Golden Lily for Best Film went to REQUIEM FOR MRS. J. (REKVIJEM ZA GOSPOĐU J., Serbia/Bulgaria/Macedonia/Russia/France, 2017). This tragicomedy tells the story of depressive Jelena, who is in the midst of final preparations to take her own life. The prize, worth 10,000 euros, was accepted personally at Tuesday evening’s event by director Bojan Vuletić, together with lead actress Mirjana Karanović. The jury explained their selection by commenting simply: “Thank you for not killing hope, Mrs. J.”
Georgian-German directorial duo Nana & Simon won the Award of the City of Wiesbaden for Best Director (endowed with a prize of 7,500 euros). Their film MY HAPPY FAMILY (CHEMI BEDNIERI OJAKHI, Germany/France/Georgia, 2017), in which 52-year-old Manana resolves to move out of the family apartment and embark on a life of her own, opened this year’s festival. Nana Ekvtimishvili und Simon Gross previously received the Award for Best Film at goEast 2013 for IN BLOOM. The jury explained its choice by commenting that the “film shows how difficult it is to open a window and let some fresh air in”. Georgian actress Tsisia Kumsishvili, who plays the role of the daughter Nino in the film, was on hand to accept the award on behalf of cast and crew.
The documentary film CITY OF THE SUN (MZIS QALAQI, Georgia/USA/Qatar/Holland, 2017, directed by Rati Oneli), a portrait of the mining settlement Chiatura in Western Georgia which has become a sort of modern ghost town, was honoured with the Award of the Federal Foreign Office for Cultural Diversity (4,000 euros) for “captur[ing] the resilience and beauty of a place and its people as they overcome a grey city, a grey year and a grey century”.
In addition, the jury also presented Honourable Mentions to the Latvian-Lithuanian war drama EXILED (PELNU SANATORIJA, 2016, directed by Dāvis Sīmanis) featuring Ulrich Matthes in the leading role, as well as Hana Jušić’s virtuoso feature film debut QUIT STARING AT MY PLATE (NE GLEDAJ MI U PIJAT, Croatia, 2016).
Nana & Simon’s MY HAPPY FAMILY was also honoured with the International Film Critics’ Award for Best Fiction Feature by an international jury representing FIPRESCI. The jury called the film “a magnificent work of cinema that depicts the life of a Georgian family in a universal and harmonious fashion”.
The International Film Critics’ Award for Best Documentary Film went to Ivan Ramljak’s ISLANDS OF FORGOTTEN CINEMAS (KINO OTOK, Croatia, 2016), which pulls at the heartstrings of cineastes and “with simple means and a minimalist style shows in wonderful manner how the cinema is part of the natural landscape”.
In the Experimental Film and Video Art Competition, made possible with the support of BHF-BANK Foundation, Frankfurt-based artist Aleksandar Radan won the Open Frame Award (worth 5,000 euros) for his IN BETWEEN IDENTITIES, in which the audience observes game characters in a virtual world in a manner bordering on voyeurism. The work is “a compelling, refreshingly immoral commentary on the self-searching performances of not only our own seemingly perfect digital mirror images”, according to the jury. An Honourable Mention went to EXILE EXOTIC (UK/Russia, 2015, directed by Sasha Litvintseva), a tale of the exotic beginnings of the filmmaker’s exile told from the edge of a pool.
The project GILGAMESH 4000 (Russia) by Nick Teplov received the goEast Development Award (worth 3,500 euros and made possible with the support of Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain) for the best pitch at the East-West Talent Lab. The jury commented on the selection thusly: “With captivating images captured on various continents, Nick Teplov creates a vibrant, multi-layered poem of a film. GILGAMESH 4000 has the potential to become a work equally capable of touching audiences and shaking them to the core.”
In addition, the jury gave an Honourable Mention to PARALLELS IN THE INFINITY from Hungarian artist Borbála Nagy, stating that the “project sheds light on a painful truth behind current political developments: the corrosion of civil society and democracy starts within the educational system”.