Art Film Fest Recognises Winners

The festival’s main prize, the Blue Angel Award for best film, granted in conjunction with a monetary prize of 15 000 euros, was taken by the film Hunger from director Steve McQueen, who won the Caméra d’Or for best debut at last year’s Cannes.
The film is generally considered one of the best works of last year. It takes place in 1981, the year when the Northern Ireland conflict escalated into a deadly struggle. The suggestive drama is set in the Maze, a prison near Belfast, where four men meet – the prison guard Raymond Lohan, working in one of the infamous cell blocks, young and timid prisoner Davey Gillen, his friend and protector Gerry Campbell and Bobby Sands, boss of the cell block. Together they announce a protest, demanding recognition as political prisoners, and thus refuse to wear prison uniforms or maintain their personal hygiene. The renowned British visual artist and debuting director depicts the final six weeks in the life of a political prisoner. His picture offers a precise and engrossing portrait of political violence.
“It is a very psychologically demanding film and professionally wrought. It meets its intellectual demands and gripped with its plot and suggestive storytelling. It displayed an ability to indivisibly combine an utterly artistic experience with general appeal. The film’s casting was precisely thought-out, with excellent and praise-worthy performances,” concurred the 17th Annual Art Film Fest International Competition of Feature Films’ international jury, which included Czech actor and director Jan Kačer, actress, singer and world-traveller Dorota Nvotová, Hungarian actress and director Eniko Eszenyi, German curator, dramaturge and film festival director Heiko Fischer and American critic and publicist Jay Weissberg.
The picture Hunger garnered yet another award at Art Film Fest: the Blue Angel award for best actor, accompanied by a monetary prize of 2 500 euros, was given to Hunger’s star, actor Michael Fassbender from Great Britain.
“For mastery, professionalism and a stirring, authentic experience of creative acting,” commented the jury.
The Blue Angel Award for best director, in conjunction with a monetary prize of 5 000 euros, was bestowed upon director Warwick Thornton’s Samson & Delilah. The Australian film was also awarded with the Caméra d’Or for best debut at this year’s Cannes.
This story of Samson, a brash fifteen-year-old boy, and Delilah, a modest fourteen-year-old girl, takes place in an isolated Aboriginal community in the Central Australian desert. Day after day, nothing changes, everything stays the same and nothing interests anybody. When a tragedy strikes, both teenagers are forced to set out on a journey into the unknown. The boy and girl soon discover that life outside their community is cruel. Despite the hunger and unfairness they experience, they find love in one another.
“For its innovation and suggestiveness, masterful handling of difficult themes, lack of pretence and deep message,” explained the five-member jury.
The Blue Angel Award for best actress, accompanied by a monetary prize of 2 500 euros, was taken by actress Nesipkul Omarbekova, who played the leading role in the film Native Dancer.
“For the role of Aidai-apa, also with regard to the film’s other qualities as a search for a way to one’s roots, nature and family,” said the jury.
A special jury mention was received by the Korean picture Treeless Mountain from director So Yong Kim, about little girls whose childhood innocence is taken by adult lies, and who movingly attempt to find their place in the world, which isn’t exactly ideal for children.
“This is a lucid, polished film, with excellent cinematography, sound and brilliant child actresses sensitively directed.”
The Award of the Mayor of the Town of Trenčianske Teplice went to the film The Visitor, directed by Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää and the Mayor of the Town of Trenčín Award was given to the film Machan, directed by Uberto Pasolini.
The Malaysian film Everyday Everyday by Chui Mui Tan leaves Art Film Fest bearing the honour of Best Short Film and the On the Road Award.
The main character Sook Chen has decided to change her life. She has quit her job to try something new, writing for example, somewhere else, as far from Malaysia as possible, perhaps in Peru. The film asks: Is writing a good escape plan from the labyrinth within oneself?
“Every day we have the opportunity to see simple stories, but it’s not every day that we can see a film with such a simple story and at the same time such depth, full of humour and emotion and delicately portraying human nature, relationships and love,” explained the three-member International Jury of Short Films, which included Polish film historian and theorist Jadwiga Glowa, Romanian screenwriter and director Adrian Sitaru and Slovak animator, director and producer Ivana Zajacová.