FESTIVALS: French/Belgian film wins Bratislava International Film Festival


    The International Bratislava Film Festival (www.iffbratislava.sk) under new programme director Matthieu Darras gave its grand prix to the French/Belgian film The Day God Went Away by director Philippe Van Leeuw.

    The jury presented the prize with the statement: For the way it takes the tragic, horrific events of the Rwandan massacre and transforms them into a powerful, primordial story of a woman suspended between life and death.

    The festival ran from November 27 through December 4 in Bratislava, with satellite festival screenings in Banska Bystrica and Kosice.

    The eight day film marathon was rounded off by a closing ceremony during which members of the juries awarded Grand Prix for best film and other statutary prizes. Matthieu Darras became the new artistic director of the IFF Bratislava, and in composition of the programme he was assisted by an international team of seven consultants. Enriching festival`s programme by two new competitional sections - Competition of Documentary Films and Competition of Short Films, each with their own juries, was a novelty. Also this year the festival visited Banská Bystrica and Košice, and it lasted not one but three days in these cities. The Competition of Short Films took place in Banská Bystrica, Košice hosted the Competition of Documentary Films. The programme of the 11th IFF Bratislava consisted of 175 full-length, medium-length and short films which almost 20.000 viewers came to see.

    The International Competition of the First and Second Feature Films was assessed by four international juries. The Main Jury, consisting of French director Laurent de Bartillat, Brazilian director Lina Chamie, English film critic Lee Marshall, Czecho-American writer, screenwriter and director Jan Novák, and director of the archive of Chinese independent films CIFA in the Centre of Contemporary Art Iberia in Beijing Zhang Yaxuan, awarded Grand Prix for Best Film to a Belgian-French movie by director Philippe Van Leeuw The Day God Went Away for „the way it takes the tragic, horrific events of the Rwandan massacre, and transforms them into a powerful, primordial story of a woman suspended between life and death.". Director of the winning film Philippe Van Leeuw received the award in person.

    The Prize for Best Director was awarded to Kamen Kalev for Eastern Plays. The jurors emphasized Kalev‘s „rendering of a tough and complex social situation in very naked emotional terms, via an original, contemporary film language." The film's co-producer Polina Oleg Levieva received the prize in behalf of the director.

    The Main Jury awarded prize for Best Actress to Ruth Nirere who played the main character in a co-production drama The Day God Went Away. They acknowledged her „movingly raw performance that magnetises our attention from the first to the last scene". Director Philippe Van Leeuw received the award in behalf of Ruth Nirere.

    Actor Harold Torres captivated the jury by his performance in Mexican-Spanish movie Northless, „a nuanced performance that expresses great depths with minimal means."

    In Best Actor category the jury also awarded Christo Christov an Ex aequo prize for his performance in Kamen Kalev‘s Eastern Plays. Jurors acknowledged how he lended humanity and tenderness to a character living on the edge". This prize was awarded posthumously and it was received by the films co-producer Polina Oleg Levieva.

    The Main Jury also awarded Special Mention this year, which went to Northless, a Mexican-Spanish film about Mexican immigrants trying to cross the border, for the skill and grace with which it weaves a delicate universal tragicomedy out of potentially clichéd border-crossing story."

    Ecumenical Jury of the IFF Bratislava, consisting of radio editor and reviewer Elena Jančišková, German theologist and pastor Dirk Van Jutrczenka, and Polish theologist Marek Lis, awarded Ecumenical Jury Award to Bulgarian-Swedish film Eastern Plays by director Kamen Kalev. It tells a story of two brothers from Sofia living in unbearable situation: family and social isolation, shallow relationships, alcoholism, hooliganism, violence and racism. Series of encounters with a young Turkish woman (love) and mysterious old man (faith) reveal the possibilities for a change. This life-confirming film doesn‘t propose simple solution but at the same time offers a message of hope. The award was received by the film‘s co-producer Polina Oleg Levieva.

    Ecumenical Jury also awarded Special Mention to Optical Illusions by director Cristián Jiménez. The film portrays, in a grotesque manner, several characters trapped in two representative modern institutions: a shopping mall and a private insurance company. The protagonists learn to reject their blind faith in the illusions that enslave them through false promises of happiness, thus discovering the importance of what we really are. The award was received by the film‘s producer Cyriac Auriol.

    The FIPRESCI Jury of the 11th IFF Bratislava consisted of Bulgarian critic and journalist Olga Markova, French film publicist Emilie Padellec, and Turkish film publicist Firat Yücel, who decided to award FIPRESCI Prize to Mexican-Spanish film Northless „for a delicate portrayal of living on the border between life and death, past and future, hope and despair, in a way that is both concrete and abstract, literal and symbolic."

    This year‘s IFF Bratislava also had its Student Jury. Miro Remo, Ján Púček and Peter Balko awarded its prize to Iraqi film Whisper With the Wind by director Shahram Alidi for „an extraordinary original portrayal, for belief in freedom, love and peace on the backdrop of cruel events in Iraq." Director Shahram Alidi received the prize personally.

    The films in Competition of Documentary Films were assessed by a three member jury, consisting of director Peter Kerekes, film publicist and director Andrea Slováková, and French director Bruno Ulmer, and the Award for the Best Documentary Film went to Petition. The jury was captivated by the way „the director using stories of individuals seeking rectification of wrongs reveals the emptiness of the Chinese Petition court, which traditionally was the last and the highest place for claiming justice for all ordinary Chinese people, but these days it is just an illusion. Director lives and breathes with his characters which shows in storytelling, when viewer gets to a total closeness of people being filmed, and also in overall visual style. The choice of characters represents individual tragic stories as well as society-wide, almost utopian appeal for a change of social order." The award was received by the member of the Main Jury Zhang Yaxuan.

    The Competition of Short Films found its winner in an Italian film Rita by directing duo Antonio Piazza and Fabio Grassadonia who received the award in person. The jury consisting of Felix Van Groeningen (Belgium), Alice Kharoubi (France) and Eva Michalíková (Slovakia) acknowledged „innovations of a film language and a contrast between beauty of an image and a horror of the story." They also awarded two special mentions - to French film A Man Overboard for psychologically convincing portrait of a man drowning in his own solitude," and Croatian film Party for „the remarkable portrayal of the destructive influence of war on young people's lives." The prize for A Man Overboard was received by producer Cyriac Auriol, and director Dalibor Matanić received the prize for Party in person.

    Juraj Herz, the director of substantial works of Czech and Slovak cinematography became a laureate of the IFF Bratislava Award for Artistic Excellence in World Cinematography. Previously, this exceptional festival prize was awarded to such personalities of the world cinematography like English actress Vanessa Redgrave, Czech actor Jan Tříska, Austrian director Ulrich Seidl, or Hungarian director István Szabó. Juraj Herz also presented his latest film T.M.A. at the festival.

    The 11th IFF Bratislava was visited by many interesting guests. Film fans were able to meet filmmakers from all over the world at the premises of Palace Cinemas Aupark and Mladosť Cinema. Besides this year's most prominent guests - French-Palestinian actress Hiam Abbass, Russian director, screenwriter and producer, director of Mosfilm Karen Shakhnazarov, and American director Jonathan Nossiter, several dozens of foreign filmmakers visited the festival and personally introduced their films - Austrian director Eni Brandner (Border), Austrian filmmakers Martin Hablesreiter and Sonja Stummerer (Food Design), Belgian director Philippe Van Leeuw (The Day God Went Away), Belgian director Felix Van Groeningen (The Misfortunates), Brazilian director Lina Chamie (Milky Way), Brazilian director Henrique Goldman (Jean Charles), Canadian director Richard Brouillette (Encirclement-Neo-Liberalism Ensnares Democracy), Croatian director Dalibor Matanić (Party), French producer Cyriac Auriol (Optical Ilusions), French directors Laure Flammarion (In the Corner. A Portrait of Gonzales), Guillaume Giovanetti (Six) and Fabien Gorgeart (A Man Overboard), producer Alice GueguenDOKU), and filmmakers (Ilan Klipper a Virgil Vernier (Police Station), directors Ewa Einhorn and Teresa Mornvik (Milkbar), Hungarian director Roland Vranik (Transmission), director Mehran Tamadon (Bassidji), Israeli directors Regev Contes (The Worst Company in the World) and Leon Prudovsky (Five Hours from Paris), Italian directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazza (Rita), Romanian director Andrei Dascalescu (Constantin and Elena), Mira Fornay (Foxes), actor Ivan Franěk, actress Saadet Isil Aksoy (Eastern Plays), and others. Also several film professionals and foreign journalists visited Bratislava - Theodore Schwinke (Screen International,Cineuropa.org), Peter Zawrel (Wiena Film Fund), Julieta Sichel-Zacharová (IFF Karlovy Vary), Nicolas Azalbert (Cahiers du cinema), Elise Domenach (Positif), Donal Foreman (Filmmakers Alliance Magazine), and others.

    Besides three competitional sections also non-competitional sections Panorama: Golden Panorama, Off the Mainstream, Panorama Special, Focus : This Is Brazil, A Matter of Taste and Profiles were parts of the festival‘s programme.

    The viewers also had the opportunity to see ten new Slovak films in Made in Slovakia section - Little Mad Robinson by Tina Diosi and Erotic Nation by Peter Begányi had their exclusive world premieres in Bratislava, but they were also able to see the internationally acknowledged Arsy Versy by Miro Remo, the controversional documentary Take it Jeasy! by Tereza Nvôtová, the portrait of a nestor of Slovak film journalism Pavol Branko Hero of our Time by Zuzana Piussi, the documentary Iľja by Ivan Ostrochovský about one of the most important Slovak composers Iľja Zeljenka, or the interesting film by Diana Fabiánová The Moon Inside You. The selection of new Slovak films was supplemented by student films Light BreezeThanks, fine (Mátyás Prikler), and Lives for sale (Kristína Hercegová). All their authors came to personally introduce their films. (Sahraa Karimi),

    The festival programme also included awarding prizes of the International Internet Film Festival Asylum. After screening of the collection of one-minute and five-minute films Asylum - Short Films, twelve prizes were awarded in three competitions. In British Embassy Climate Award - Don‘t Oxide! Quo vadis Winter... by Martin Tokár won the first prize, the second prize went to Nataša Čtveráková for The Right Click, Fu-tourists by Peter Višňovský finished third. In JVC PRO Awards Competition of one-minute films Slovak film Surface by Daniela Krajčová won the first prize, The Black Hole by British directing duo Phil Sansom a Olly Wiliams finished second, and Slovak film Don´t Block The Line by Henrich Mihaľov and Jaro Vaľko finished third. In JVC PRO Awards Competition of five-minute films German Our Wonderful Nature by Tomer Eshed won the first prize, Hungarian Just Like by András Szabó finished second, and Spanish I Wear No Underwear by Nico Casavecchio finished third. The People‘s Choice Award of the daily SME in one-minute films‘ section went to Kristian Németh for Bars, and in five-minute films‘ section It´s again them - People by Michal Pusztay won the first prize. This year‘s Special Prize of Asylum Festival went to Ivan Šucha for his poetically told story You´re bending, the special prize for editing went to Norway to Ingvild Soderlind for his Waiting, Chrotopher Hewitt and Rob Chiu from England won the prize for Best Sound in Things Fall Apart, and Ľubomír Výbošťok with Metamorphosis won the special prize for directing.

    For the fourth time during Bratislava festival a gala evening of the most read film magazine Kinema.sk took place, where 2009 Kinema Movie of the Year winners were announced, and during the official ceremony prizes in three categories were awarded. Quentin Tarantino‘s Inglorious Basterds became the Movie of the Year, The Ice Age 3 (Tatra film) became the most visited film of 2009, the prize for best subtitles/dubbing of the year went to Inglorious Basterds translated by Jaro Vančo, and the prize for best promotional campaign went to Bratislavafilm (Continental Film). The documentary Cooking History by Peter Kerekes was announced The Film of the Year, another prizes were awarded in categories Television Event of the Year (TV JOJ‘s series Odsúdené), Student Film of the Year (Arsy Versy by Miro Remo), Club Film of the Year (Between walls by Laurent Cantet), and also prize for the worst film of the year was awarded to three films - Final Destination 4, The Night of the Living Dead 3D, and Repo! The Genetic Opera.

    The plentiful film programme was also enriched by attractive accompanying events. The festival was rounded off by Slippers Night with Zlatý Bažant during which three successful films were screened - The Matter of Size, The Tales of the Golden Age and Soul Kitchen, the second film menu consisted of successful distribution films according to Kinema.sk portal - Waltz with Bashir by Ari Folman, Vicky Cristina Barcelona by Woody Allen, and Inglorious Bastards by Quentin Tarantino. Fun and discussions till morning took place every night in Bratislava‘s Nu Spirit Club at Open Society Afterparties. The festival neither forgot about its smallest viewers, and Luc Besson‘s new film Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard was screened as a part of the Festival for Kids in its Slovak premiere. In Košice the accompanying events were connected to presenting of the documentary Little Mad Robinson - a concert of interprets whom Jožo Urban wrote lyrics for took place, Janko Lehotský, Peter Lipa Band and others performed, and the project City of Košice - European Capital of Culture 2013 was the partner of the festival. In Banská Bystrica films of the students of the Academy of Art were presented.

    The sequel to last year's very successful workshop Strategic Film Marketing II organized by Strategic Film Marketing, IFF Bratislava, MEDIA Desk Czech Republic, MEDIA Desk Hungary and MEDIA Desk Slovakia, was also a part of the festival. It took place on November 26-27, 2009, at the Film and Television Department of the University of Fine Arts. The topic of this exclusive workshop was film marketing, and it was lectured by John Durie, the founder and director of Strategic Film Marketing. Various subjects were discussed during the two days - festivals and markets, teasers and graphic design, key concepts of film distribution, placing films outside traditional categories, date and way of releasing films to cinemas, the relation between distributor and cinema, placing films to multiplexes, digital distribution, cinema advertising, or web and on-line marketing.

    A panel discussion Slovak Film in the World that took place on December 4 in Palace Cinemas Aupark with attendance of many international and domestic guests became a place for interesting debates. It was organized by Slovak Film Institution in collaboration with the IFF Bratislava, Slovak Film and Television Academy, and MEDIA Desk Slovakia. The discussion was encouraged by the success of Slovak films at prestigious international film festivals which provoked several questions. Is this year‘s success only a coincidence, or it is a result of systematic support of films, their presentation and film diplomacy, whether it is a wave or a tendency, how Slovak film as a whole benefits from these particular success, what to do to make this trend last longer, and what is a share of particular filmmakers, their sales agents, or National Cinematographical Centre SFI. The director of the IFF Bratislava Matthieu Darras, director and producer Peter Kerekes, director of Film Europe - sales Marta Lamperová, Cathy Meils (Film New Europe), Theodore Schwinke (Screen International,Cineuropa.org), Alexandra Strelková (National Cinematographical Centre SFI), Will Tizard (Variety), and director of Hungarian Film Centre Magyar Filmunió, president of European Film Promotion Éva Vezér tried to find aswers.

    The International Film Festival Bratislava and Bratislava - Capital of Slovak Republic started a new tradition this year, through which we want to honour significant Slovak film and theatre artists, creators and film professionals. Every year a memorial tile will be laid to create a movie Walk of Fame leading from DPOH City Theatre through Laurinská Street towards historical centre. The first laureate starting this tradition is a significant personality of Slovak film and theatre acting Ladislav Chudík.

    The 11th International Film Festival Bratislava took place on November 27 - December 4, 2009, in Bratislava‘s Palace Cinemas Aupark multiplex, Mladosť Cinema, and DPOH City Theatre; November 28-30, in Europa Cinemas in Banská Bystrica, and December 1-3, in Cinemax multiplex in Košice.

    More information continuously at www.iffbratislava.sk

    The 11th International Film Festival Bratislava, November 27 - December 4, 2009


    Festival Days:

    Europa Cinemas, BANSKÁ BYSTRICA November 28 - 30, 2009

    Cinemax, KOŠICE December 1 - 3, 2009

    Main Organizers of the Festival:

    Civic Association Ars Nova

    Partners Production

    Promotion Agency

    General Partner

    UniCredit Bank

    Main partners



    Zlatý Bažant





    Palace Cinemas

    Mladosť Cinema

    Bratislava Culture and Information Centre

    DPOH City Theatre

    Translata - Translations and Interpretation

    CINEMAX Košice

    Europa Cinemas Banská Bystrica

    Hotel IBIS Bratislava Centrum