Awards Decided at 18th Art Film Fest

The feature-length films were judged by a jury consisting of Hong Kong director Ann Hui, French film critic Shahla Nahid, Kosovan actor and producer Arben Zharku, Austrian director and actress Johanna Tomek and Czech screenwriter Marek Epstein.   Art Film Fest’s grand prize, the Blue Angel for Best Film, and its accompanying monetary prize of 15,000 euros went to the Russian film How I Ended This Summer from director Alexei Popogrebsky. The film has already received the Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Achievement for its camerawork at the 2010 Berlinale, and both of its co-stars won the Silver Bear for Best Actor. The picture stands out with its suggestive portrayal of the intense drama between two men in one of the world’s most isolated places, the Chukotka Peninsula. The judge considers this film “as a true work of art which could claim prizes in every main category: script, directing, camera, sound design and acting. […] What starts as a quite simple affair turns out to be a complex story, raising questions about the condition of humanity as well as about our manipulation of nature. But this film also hints at how animosity, prejudice and even hate can change into respect, responsibility and taking care of the vulnerable existence of the next generation.”  The Blue Angel for Best Director and its accompanying monetary prize of 5000 euros was awarded to Samuel Maoz, director of the film Lebanon. Based on his first-hand experiences, he chillingly depicts the reality of war with no trace of heroics, focusing on few soldiers in a tank, trapped behind enemy lines. According to the Jury, this is "a film which gives a new face to war and symbolizes the narrow-mindedness of those who believe that the use of force is the only way to bring peace.”  The film has already won several prizes, including the Golden Lion at the Venice FF. The Blue Angel for Best Female Performance and its accompanying monetary prize of 2500 euros was granted to Jennifer Lawrence, the young American actress from director Debra Granik’s film Winter’s Bone. The Jury was captivated by her authenticity and, considering her age, her extraordinarily mature portrayal of the seventeen-year-old Ree Dolly.” Her character cares for her sickly mother and younger siblings while searching for her missing father, who put up their house for bail money. The picture won the Grand Jury Prize and a screenwriting award at this year’s Sundance, as well as receiving the C.I.C.A.E. Award in the Forum section of this year’s Berlinale.         The Blue Angel for Best Male Performance and its accompanying monetary prize of 2500 euros was presented to Romanian actor George Pistereanu, who appeared in director Florin Serban’s film If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle. The Jury appraised his performance aptly: “We believe him and we sympathize with him.” The picture, representing the Romanian cinematic New Wave, is unique in the authenticity of its cinematic expression and actors’ performances. Based on a stage play, the film captures a young correction facility inmate who cannot come to terms with a decision his mother makes, and is determined to do whatever it takes to change it. It won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlinale as well. Art Film Fest’s jury also bestowed two Special Mention awards. The first recipient is the young Swedish actor Sebastian Hiort af Ornäs, who festival audiences could see in the film Sebbe from director Babak Najafi. The picture suggestively depicts the complicated relationship between an adolescent boy and his mother, who drowns the loss of her husband in alcohol. Despite being the young star’s first film role, he manages to convincingly portray the complicated psychological state of a young outsider. “…the very young Sebastian Hiort af Ornäs, with his convincing, sensitive and deep performance, manages to show the vulnerable nature of love between a mother and her son as well as the mechanisms of violence among children and youth in many societies," stated the Jury. The recipient of the second Special Mention was Nader Takmil Homayoun, director of the film Tehran, in which he reveals a hidden side of the Iranian metropolis, where trafficking of drugs and children, prostitutes and extortion are routine. The jury decided to confer the Special Mention for” depicting a society facing the decline of its values and morals. …through shocking images of the huge city of Tehran, [the director] tries to draw attention to society’s gangrenous wounds in order to make their healing possible.” The victorious title in the competition section of short films was director Paul Wright’s nineteen-minute film Believe, winning the On the Road award and its accompanying monetary prize of 5000 euros. The competition was judged by a jury consisting of Canadian director Denis Chouinard, film festival programme advisor Delphine Lyner and festival curator / producer Hiroyuki Tanimoto. The winning short film captures a man’s severe mental breakdown, incurred by the painful loss of a loved one. The award was bestowed for the film’s “audacious narrative and the outstanding quality of its visual metaphors, showing the inner conflict of a man unable to cope with the loss of his wife…” The Short Film Jury’s Special Mention went to two films.  The first went to Danish director Fenar Ahmad’s Megaheavy, which follows a young introverted girl’s search for the right boy or girl for her. The jury praised the film’s “realistic and unpretentious storytelling…” The second Special Mention was awarded to the Canadian picture Naissances from director Anne Emond, depicting a chance meeting between a furniture restorer and a young woman, which could be more significant than it first seems. The jury cited its “human and contemporary portrait of two lost souls hanging on to each other and trying to make reality more bearable.” Non-statutory awards will also be announced at Art Film Fest’s closing ceremony. The first-ever FILM EUROPE Award will be granted to Slovak filmmaker for extraordinary creative work receiving international acclaim. The award, granted jointly by Art Film Fest, Film Europe Media Company and the national television channel Kino CS, will go to Mátyás Prikler for his film Thanks, Fine. With its intimate portrait of a family, the picture captures the disintegration of interpersonal relationships on the backdrop of the current economic crisis. The film was officially selected for the Cinéfondation competition section at Cannes. The Trenčianske Teplice Mayor’s Award will be granted to the Romanian-Swedish film If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle, whose star has already been awarded for Best Male Performance. The Trenčín Mayor’s Award will go to director Javier Fuentes-León’s Undertow, a co-production between Peru, Columbia, France and Germany.  The film depicts an atypical love triangle between a happily married man, his wife, and painter, in which the two lovers are the men. It also received the Audience Awards at Sundance and the Miami FF. Photographs can be found at in the Press section.  The Art Film Fest International Film Festival Trenčianske Teplice/Trenčín is made possible through the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund and the European Union Programme MEDIA.    Organizers: ART FILM, n. o., Forza, a. s. Co-organizers: the Town of Trenčianske Teplice, the City of Trenčín, the Trenčianske Teplice Health Spa General Sponsors: Dôvera Medical Insurance, AquaCity Poprad Main Sponsors: Tatra banka, Slovnaft, Veolia Voda – Central Slovakian Waterworks, OHL ŽS, Alison Slovakia Official Transport Provider: Lancia Logistics Sponsor: DHL; Free student cinepasses provided by: Prvá stavebná sporitelna (First Housing-Construction Savings Bank) Sponsor of the Slovak Season section: Zlatý Bažant; Sponsors: AVI Studio, Baske Guest House, Park Hotel na Baračke Official Suppliers: HUBERT J.E., Kláštorná, GS design, Philips, A Briliant Media Sponsors: Slovak Television, Markíza Television, FilmBox, CSTV, Central Europe Television, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, Pravda, .týždeň, Markíza, Pardon, Cinemax, Kam do mesta,, Boomerang Media, SITA, euroAWK,