The Blue Angel for the Best Feature Film of the 30th Art Film IFF was awarded to the emotional Sudanese drama Goodbye, Julia

The thirtieth anniversary of the Art Film IFF culminated with the announcement of the winning films and the presentation of six prestigious Blue Angel awards. In addition to the traditional two competitions – the International Competition of Feature Films and the International Competition of Short Films – this year the organisers have added a new third competition section called the International Competition of Central and Eastern European Films.

On this occasion, three international juries consisting of film professionals and theoreticians were set up, whose honourable and challenging task was to select the winning films, those with exceptional artistic or craft workmanship and the most outstanding and far-reaching message. The judges also awarded the best acting and directing.

In the International Competition of Feature Films, the winning title was decided by Ukrainian visual artist and filmmaker Anna Kryvenko, Kurdish-Swiss director and screenwriter Mano Khalil and Slovak director Marek Kuboš. The Blue Angel for Best Feature Film was awarded to the Sudanese drama Goodbye, Julia about the friendship between two females with different religious beliefs. The jury justified the victory of Mohamed Kordofani‘s debut as follows: “Through a family tragedy, Goodbye, Julia highlights important contemporary events, delving into historical overlays and political conflicts. It conveys a humanist message, focusing on the topic of forgiveness – an essential part of human existence – and pays tribute to tolerance, coexistence and mutual respect.” The producers of the film, Amjad Abu Alala and Mohammed Alomda, were awarded a cash prize of €2,000 along with the Blue Angel Award.

The jury awarded the Blue Angel for Best Director to director Magnus von Horn for his haunting drama The Girl with the Needle inspired by the horrific events in Denmark in the period shortly after end of WWI. “The director has delivered a darkly disturbing drama that works on all levels, whether it’s the excellent cinematography that captures the horrific images in black and white, the drama of the story that is full of twists and surprises, or the performances that create the atmosphere of a true crime story.” 

It was the performance of the Danish actress Trine Dyrholm in The Girl with the Needle that captivated the three-member jury so much that they awarded her the Blue Angel for Best Actress. “The actress’ masterful performance convinced us of her transformation from a candy store owner and innocent Samaritan who secretly helps women in need with adoption to a heartless killer.”

The Blue Angel for the Best Male Actor went to Danish actor Sebastian Bull for his role in Gustav Möller‘s prison drama Sons. “Sebastian Bull convincingly takes on the role of a violent prisoner. Although he played a supporting role, he was able to evoke strong emotions in the audience and portrayed aggression and violence, but also childlike innocence, vulnerability and fragility.”

The jury also awarded three special mentions. The first was earned by actor Clément Faveau for his role in the comedy drama Holy Cow!. Recognition must also go to the female acting duo of the winning film Goodbye, JuliaEiman Yousif and Siran Riak, whose performances emphasised the importance of good interpersonal relationships. The jury awarded the Japanese film Rei by debut director Toshihiko Tanaka for its “delicate cinematic language that managed to express the deepest feelings of the human soul.”

The jury of the new International Competition of Central and Eastern European Films at Art Film this year consisted of three experts from the field of film theory and theatre studies, namely Birgit Beumers from Germany, Anna Ladinigfrom Austria and Sylvia Huszár from Hungary. The jury awarded the Blue Angel for the best film from Central and Eastern Europe to the feature debut of Polish director Klaudiusz Chrostowski, Ultima Thule, which “masterfully tells the story of overcoming loss at an appropriate pace.” The jury adds that: “Through interaction with the harsh landscape and friendships that are more than just human, the film becomes an exceptional contribution in the competition.” The jury awarded a special recognition to the animated film Pelikan Blue, directed by László Csáki.

Producers Beata Rzeźniczek, Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska and producers Klaudiusz Chrostowski and Jakub Gierszał of the winning film in the newly established International Competition of Central and Eastern European Films, together with the Blue Angel Award, also received €1,500 from CANON SLOVAKIA, which is a partner of the financial prize.

The professional jury of the International Competition of Short Films consisted of Slovak theatre and television actress and producer Lucia Hurajová, Czech filmmaker Martin Kuba and Polish cultural promoter and festival organiser Krzysztof Sienkiewicz. The Blue Angel for Best Short Film was awarded to Incident, directed by Bill Morrison, which is a reenactment of the 2018 Chicago police shooting. “The film cleverly uses modern surveillance technology to reconstruct the tragedy from all human perspectives. The fragments of the incident of illegal shooting by the police put together a larger picture of society, fear and prejudice, which is the driving force behind the recurrence of such tragedies,” the jury explained its decision to award the prize. In addition to the Blue Angel, the creator of the winning film was also awarded a financial prize of €500.

The jury also mentioned three short films to which they awarded special mention, namely An Orange from Jaffa, because the film “reveals the boundaries between us and how small human gestures can help us cross those boundaries,” Cross My Heart and Hope to Die, because it is “an intriguingly constructed mystery surrounding the relationship between two outcasts of modern society,” and finally, Nun or Never! for its “imaginative tale of a nun’s awakening passion. It playfully depicts the beauty and diversity of the inner worlds beneath our uniform clothes.”

Visitors to Art Film had the opportunity to vote for the JOJ Cinema Audience Award for a feature-length film throughout the festival. The highest number of audience votes and the award in the end went to Katalina Moldovai‘s Without Air.

The 30th edition of the International Film Festival Art Film will take place thanks to the support of:

Organiser: ART FILM FEST s.r.o.;

Co-organizers: City of Košice, K13 – Košice cultural centers, ART FILM FEST, n.o., LGM, s.r.o., FORLIVE;

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

Senior advertising partner: Slovenská elektrizačná prenosová sústava, a.s.;

Main partners: Národná lotériová spoločnosť TIPOS, Východoslovenská energetika, EUK-Force, SPP, CODES Brand House;

Automotive partner: PORSCHE; Official hotel: Hotel Yasmin;

Main media partners: TV JOJ, Pravda, Eurotelevízia;

Advertising partners: construction company Adefex, Jadrová a vyraďovacia spoločnosť, a.s.,  Best Press, U. S. Steel Košice, Betpres, Transpetrol, SLOVAKIA TRAVEL, ANTIK Telecom, Cinema Úsmev, CORE LABS, Lucka spring water;

Technological partners: NOV, ZEBRA, DELTA OnLine, ARICOMA, BigON;

Official contractors: DKC Veritas, Eastern Slovak Museum in Košice, Krušovice BOHÉM, BARZZUZ, DOMOS SLOVAKIA, Restaurant Contessa, Café Slávia; Official wine: Kubbo Select and Ostrožovič;

Media partners: JOJ PLAY, JOJ 24, Film Europe, Rádio KOŠICE,, Forbes, Korzár, Slovenka, SITA, TASR, See & Go, BigMedia, Košice City Guide,, Visit Košice,,, MOJAkultúra;

Partners: Východoslovenská vodárenská spoločnosť, Nadácia CEF, Slovnaft, AUPARK Košice, Carmeuse Slovakia, JOJ Cinema, Hydrotour travel agency, Taper, YumEarth, KAIFER advokátska kancelária s.r.o., Deva, WITKOWITZ SLOVAKIA, Košice Airport, ECO Technologies, CPK Slovakia, Casa Trade – Casablanca cafe, DC MEDICAL, KPK Reklama, Kvitok, HAIR Factory Košice, Kvety Garomi, Air Taxi, Tesco Stores SR, a.s.; Local Nomad Tours, Red Fox Golf Club, TATRATEA, Slovenský filmový ústav (Slovak Film Institute);

Financial awards partners: CANON, Filmarina;

Catering partners: Ohnisko – Fire Dining & Brew Bar, Pub u kohúta, El Nacional, Maiko Sushi, Café de Paris, Tabačka Kulturfabrik; BISTRO Blanc, Andiamo GROUP, BENZE; Red Velvet Cake Bar; Tahiti, Café Veritas