9 Films from 4 Continents are Competing for the Blue Angel

Since 2005, awards in the international competition of feature films of Art Film Fest have been named Blue Angel after the iconic film starring Marlene Dietrich. Since then, 18 films from 16 countries have received the main award (there have been two ex aequo winners in two years), most recently in 2021 with the Swedish film Pleasure directed by Ninje Thynberg.

In the case of art films, it is almost standard that they are co-productions of several countries, and so the 9 films that made it to the final selection represent a total of 13 countries, with France having statistically the strongest representation (4). According to the statutes, the competition is open to the first, second or third feature-length film by a female or male director produced after 1 January 2022.

“First of all, I focused on the quality of the overall work of art, the manner in which the story was built and the surprising screenplay, the strong acting performances and the original imprint of the director. The films of the directors that we award in our main competition had to meet these primary criteria,” says Martin Palúch, the section organiser and the art director of Art Film Fest, and he adds: “Of course, the choice was also influenced by the themes of the films, the urgency with which the directors reveal them in their own specific way. But the countries of origin were also decisive so that the final selection of films would be appealing also according to geographical representation. We have titles from overseas – USA and Australia, but also from Ireland, France, Croatia and Qatar. In most cases, these are multinational co-productions.”

Films in the feature film competition at Art Film Fest 2023

  • SAFE PLACE (Sigurno mjesto – Croatia), directed by: Juraj Lerotić
  • RUNNER (USA, France, Germany), directed by: Marian Mathias
  • BLAZE (Australia), directed by: Del Kathryn Barton
  • LOVE ACCORDING TO DALVA (Belgium, France), directed by: Emmanuelle Nicot
  • DOMINGO AND THE MIST (Domingo y la niebla – Costa Rica, Qatar), directed by: Ariel Escalante Meza
  • I HAVE ELECTRIC DREAMS (Tengo sueños eléctricos – Belgium, France, Costa Rica), directed by: Valentina Maurel
  • MEDITERRANEAN FEVER (Palestine, Germany, France, Cyprus, Qatar), directed by: Maha Haj
  • THE QUIET GIRL (An Cailín Ciúin – Ireland), directed by: Colm Bairéad
  • WHITE PLASTIC SKY (Műanyag égbolt – Hungary, Slovakia), directed by: Tibor Bánóczki, Sarolta Szabó

Martin Palúch commented on the possible trends which were also reflected in his selection: “A trend that caught my eye and is obvious at first glance is the abundance of quality debuts by female directors. The thematic focus is often on female themes, which are portrayed by actresses in their teenage years. As these are really hot topics related to adolescence, but also to sexual violence and intimacy, I was surprised by the mature and convincing performances of the young actresses. Of course I see it from my point of view and I do not dare to say that this is a global trend, but it is also reflected in our final selection, where there are five films created by female directors, one by a male-female director duo and only three by male directors.”

The results and the four statutory awards called Blue Angel (best film, best director, best male and female actor) will be decided by a five-member international jury consisting of:

Ágnes Kocsis

Hungarian director whose three short films have been screened at numerous festivals. The film Vírus (A Virus) shared the third prize at the Cannes IFF in the Cinéfondation section. Her first feature film Fresh Air (Friss levegő) was screened at the same year’s Cannes IFF as a part of the Critics’ Week and in 2006 it was nominated for the European Discovery of the Year Award at the European Film Academy Awards. Her second feature film Adrienn Pál (Pál Adrienn) received the FIPRESCI Award in the Un Certain Regard section at the 63rd Cannes IFF. In 2011, she won the national Béla Balázs award for her film work.

Kaan Müjdeci

Turkish screenwriter, producer and director. His first feature film Sivas competed in 2014 at the 71st Venice IFF and won the Special Jury Prize. In 2015, Sivas was officially nominated by Turkey in the Best Foreign Film category at the 88th Academy Awards. His second feature Iguana Tokyo was selected for the Cinéfondation L’Atelier program of the 69th Cannes IFF and the Gap Financing Market program of the 76th Venice IFF. In 2022, the film won the Golden Orange Award for Best Art Director at the Golden Orange Film Festival in Antalya.

Ivan Ostrochovský

Slovak director, screenwriter and producer. His feature-length debut was the documentary Velvet Terrorists (2013), which he co-directed with Pavel Pekarčík and Petr Kerekes. The film premiered at the Berlinale and won numerous awards. His feature debut Goat (Koza) (2015) also premiered at the Berlinale, received a number of awards, was shortlisted for the European Film Awards and was a Slovak national Oscar nominee. Servants (Služobníci) (2020) was presented at the Berlinale in the Encounters competition section and received many awards at international film festivals. He contributed to the film Censor (Cenzorka) (2021) as the author of the theme and screenplay together with the co-screenwriter and the director Peter Kerekes. At the Venice IFF they both won the award for the screenplay in the Horizons section and subsequently a nomination for the European Film Award.

Beata Parkanová
Czech director who originally studied screenwriting and dramaturgy at FAMU in Prague. She directed her first feature film Moments (Chvilky) in 2018. The film premiered at East of the West competition at the Karlovy Vary IFF. Jenovéfa Boková won the Czech Lion and the Czech Film Critics Award for her performance in the lead role in this film. In 2022, she made her second feature film, The Word (Slovo), which won the Best Director Award and the Best Male Actor Award at the Karlovy Vary IFF. In addition to filmmaking, she also writes books (especially for children) and song lyrics.

Adam Sikora

Polish cameraman, director, screenwriter, photographer and painter. He teaches camera and photography at the Krzysztof Kieślowski Film School at the University of Silesia. As a camera operator, he collaborated with Lech Majewski on the films Soldier (Wojaczek, 1999), Angelus (2001), The Mill and the Cross (Młyn i kříž, 2011), with Jerzy Skolimowski on the films Four Nights with Anna (Cztery noce z Anną, 2008) and Essential Killing (2010) and with Piotr Dumał on the film Forest (Las, 2009). He won the Golden Key at the Art Film Fest for Wojaczek, the Eagle Polish Film Award for Four Nights with Anna, the Golden Lion at the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia for Essential Killing and a nomination for the European Film Award, and the Czech Lion for camera in David Ondříček’s film In the Shadow.

Previous winners of the Blue Angel Award in the Best Film category:

  • 2021 PLEASURE (Sweden, directed by: Ninja Thyberg)
  • 2019 MONOS (Colombia, directed by: Alejandro Landes)
  • 2018 THE GUILTY (Den Skyldige, Denmark, directed by: Gustav Möller)
  • 2017 GLORY (Slava, Bulgaria, directed by: Kristina Grozeva & Peter Valchanov)
  • 2016 JUNCTION 48 (Israel, directed by: Udi Aloni)
  • 2015 IXCANUL (Guatemala, directed by: Jayro Bustamante)
  • 2014 THE WAY OUT (Czech Republic, directed by: Petr Václav)
  • 2013 HARMONY LESSONS (Uroki garmonii, Kazakhstan, directed by: Emir Bajgazin)
  • 2012 TWILIGHT PORTRAIT (Portret v sumerkach, Russia, directed by: Angelina Nikolova)
  • 2011 SILENT SOULS (Ovsianki, Russia, directed by: Alexey Fedorchenko)
  • 2010 HOW I SURVIVED THIS SUMMER (Kak ja proviol etim letom, Russia, directed by: Alexei Popogrebsky)
  • 2009 HUNGER (Great Britain, directed by: Steve McQueen)
  • 2008 ex aequo
    • SUMMER BOOK (Tatil kitabi, Turkey, directed by: Seyfi Teoman)
    • WOLFSBERGEN (Netherlands, directed by: Nanouc Leopold)
  • 2007  ex aequo
    • FISH DREAMS (Sonho de Peixe, Brazil, directed by: Kirill Michanovsky)
    • THE TRAP (Klopka, Serbia, directed by: Srdan Golubovic)
  • 2006 SHANGHAI DREAMS (Qing hong, China, directed by: Wang Xiaosguai)
  • 2005 SUBURBS (Predmestje, Slovenia, directed by: Vinko Mödendorfer)

Organisation: ART FILM FEST s.r.o.;
Co-organizers: City of Košice, K13 – Košice Cultural Centres, ART FILM FEST, n.o., LGM, s.r.o.;

The festival was financially supported by: Audiovisual Fund and SPP Foundation;
The festival is co-financed by the Košice self-governing region from the Terra Incognita program;

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Main media partners: TV JOJ, zregionu.sk, Pravda, Eurotelevision;
Media partners: Rozhlas a televízia Slovenska, Kinosála, JOJ 24, Film Europe, TV spolok LOToS, Rádio KOŠICE, Korzár, Slovenka, Forbes, SITA, TASR, BigMedia, HomeMedia Production, Film.sk, Košice City Guide, aktuality.sk, csfd.cz, Visit Košice, Košice v Skratke;
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Festival restaurants and bars: JAZZ Club Café Restaurant, Hostinec Brewery, Papa Café, Camelot Restaurant, Veritas Café