The nineteenth annual Art Film Fest, held from June 17 to 25 in Trenčianske Teplice and Trenčín, ended successfully with a red-carpet closing awards ceremony.
The festival’s grand prize, the Blue Angel for Best Film, was awarded to "Silent Souls" (Ovsianki) from Russian director Alexei Fedorchenko. Helmed by Juraj Jakubisko, the International Jury selected the winning picture for its "unique, poetic vision and powerful directorial resolve".
The film depicts a man’s final farewell to his deceased wife in the traditional manner of the Merya people, an ostensibly defunct ethnic group from west-central Russia.
The Blue Angel for Best Director went to Polish director Jan Komasa for his "Suicide Room" (Sala samobójcow). The five-member international jury summed up the picture as "[a] violent film steeped in the loneliness of a young generation lost in modern technology, on the backdrop of a society coming to terms with the problems of the post-communist era."
The protagonist of "Suicide Room" is a boy with loads of friends, the hottest girl in school and rich parents. But when a single moment changes everything, he begins withdrawing into isolation, spending all his time in his computer’s virtual world. There he meets a girl who introduces him to the “suicide room”, a place from which there is no escape.
Zuzana Liová’s "The House" (Dom), the first Slovak opening film in Art Film Fest’s history, earned not just one, but both Blue Angels for Best Performance. Judit Bárdos took the prize for Best Actress for her "natural and convincing performance, anchoring the film as a whole and winning our hearts in the process."
The Blue Angel for Best Actor was awarded to Czech performer Miroslav Krobot, the jury citing his "subtle, restrained performance, which speaks to the viewer with a minimum of words."
"The House" also won the Film Europe Award "for extraordinary, internationally awarded work by a young Slovak filmmaker." This new prize is a collaboration between Art Film Fest, the media company Film Europe and the national television channel Kino CS.
A Special Mention was given to the Austrian film "Michael", which director Markus Schleinzer personally introduced in Trenčianske Teplice. Included in Cannes’ main competition, the picture is a chilling account of a little boy’s last months of captivity at the hands of a pedophile. Acclaimed by Art Film Fest’s jury as "a courageous and powerful debut, the shocking picture also won Trenčianske Teplice’s Mayor Award "for its bravery and distinctive approach to a complicated topic, portrayed in a visually understated, yet cinematically distinctive manner, which forces the viewer to come to their own conclusions."
Chinese director Li Hongqia’s "Winter Vacation" (Han Jia), a parody of typically meditative Asian festival pictures, earned a further Special Mention "for its visual accuracy, artistic stylization, minimalism and black humour."
The International Competition of Feature Films pitted fifteen award-winning films against each other. The winners were decided by a jury chaired by legendary Slovak filmmaker Juraj Jakubisko, including Samuel Maoz, winner of last year’s Blue Angel for Best Director; Oscar-winning Mexican production designer Eugenio Caballero; Alissa Simon, American film curator from the Palm Springs IFF and Croatian cinematographer Živko Zalar.
Art Film Fest’s Blue Angel for Best Short Film went to the fourteen-minute "Tussilago" from Swedish director Jonas Odell. The jury cited the picture’s "refreshing approach to filmmaking, reassessing conventions of genre and substantially reshaping the boundaries between animated, documentary and fiction cinema." The film tells the story of a girl who gets mixed up in 1970s terrorist activities.
The forty-four pictures from around the globe in the International Competition of Short Films were judged by a three-member jury consisting of educator Mária Ferenčuhová; Jukka-Pekka Laakso, president of Finland’s Tampere Film Festival and Italian filmmaker Gaia Meucci.
The 19th Art Film Fest International Film Festival 2011 in Trenčianske Teplice and Trenčín is made possible by the financial support of the Audiovisual Fund.
Organizers: ART FILM, n.o., FORZA, a.s.
Co-organizers: The Town of Trenčianske Teplice, Trenčianske Teplice Spas
General Sponsors: Omnia Holding SE, AquaCity Poprad
Main Sponsors: Tatra banka, Slovnaft, VUJE, OHL ŽS
Official Transport Provider: Lancia
Logistics Sponsor: DHL
Free student Cinepasses provided by: Prvá stavebná sporiteľňa (First Housing-Construction Savings Bank)
Sponsors: TIPOS, Ernst & Young, AVI studio, Penzión Baske, Cinemax, Santovka
Official Suppliers: Pilsner Urquell, HUBERT J.E., the festival Pax Spa Hotel,
A Briliant, Philips, Esterle&Esterle, MF team, LampART, Lenovo, Stredná odborná škola polygrafická (Vocational School of Printing)
Main Media Sponsors: Slovenská televízia, televízia JOJ, Rádio FM, Pravda, zoznam.sk
Main Media Sponsors: Central Europe Television, Kino CS, Muzika CS, Doku CS, Rádio Europa 2, Rádio Hit FM, .týždeň, Eurotelevízia, Pardon, OK!, Kinečko, Kam do mesta, Focus, Boomerang Media, SITA, moviemania.sk, BlueSky, Televízia Trenčianske Teplice, Film New Europe, euroAWK, Willmark
Sponsors: The City of Trenčín, the Trenčín Self-governing Region, the Embassy of Israel in Slovakia, the European Commission Representation in Slovakia, the Embassy of the USA in Bratislava, , the Office of the Embassy of Sweden in Bratislava, Sodec Quebec, the Slovak Film Institute, Cinecitta, the Italian Cultural Institute in Bratislava, Omnia, RONA, Celtima SK, jazykovepobyty.sk, Hotel Flóra, versity