SIBIU 2007 CULTURAL CAPITAL OF EUROPE AWARD
Koriam’s Law by Garry Kildea
We consider this film to be a triumph of analytical filmmaking. It re-analyses the famous Pacific Island tradition of “Cargo Cults”, whereby an aboriginal people seeks to improve their lives by pleasing the spirits of their dead ancestors. Faced by the challenged of colonialism and modernity they have constructed an ingenious fusion of Christian, bureaucratic and capitalist ideas to put their ancestral spirits, and their own anxieties, at ease and into harmony. It is superbly photographed and edited. It gives a powerful voice to one wise old village elder and his new religion, called Koriam’s Law.
At the heart of the film it is a long discussion between the anthropologist and the main character, who explain the extraordinary logic behind a complex set of religion beliefs.
This is one of the rare films to explore, in detail, what an anthropologist needs to do to understand the mind and soul of another culture. For two hours we are spellbound as we enter deeper and deeper into the way of thinking and advanced cosmology that defies the notion that they are a (“so called”) primitive people.
ASTRA FILM AWARD
offered by Ratiu Foundation
Balkan Champion by Reka Kincses
This film appears at the first sight to concern a local matter, a journalistic investigation into a small piece of Balkan turmoil. But it grows into an intense and complex drama in which intimate and public matters are inextricably intertwined and lane bare before our eyes. Balcan Champion reveals a documentary film director utterly engaged with her subjects, willing to follow through to the very end the consequences her actions – she truly follows her subjects to the end of things which means that a certain point she has to turn on and expose herself. This film is courageous and also funny, very funny.
In a series of ever more honest and intense confrontations the filmmaker restitutes a personal family drama as part of a larger community drama. The end result is a highly credible of a political context and its roots in ethnic tensions.
LUXEMBOURG AWARD in International Competition
offered by The Ministry of Culture, Education and Research Luxembourg
Just Married by Aylet Bechar
The jury of the 8th Astra Film Fest have decided to give a Luxemburg Award in the International competition to the film Just Married (Acrei Hachatuna, Tineri casatoriti) directed by Ayelet Bechar from Istrael. Film presents the case of two recently married couples of Palestinian origin coming from Palestine and Israel who cannot live in Israel because of legal regulations that prevent family reunification. The director managed to follow their complicated and intimate lives in a highly ethical way. We watch a story of extremely truthful individual who face the anonymity and bureaucracy of the state apparatus and the absurd legal system. Seemingly powerless they struggle to find their way to stay together, although at the expense of being forced migrants or law-breakers. It is emotionally moving, socially engaged and politically brave in its criticism. At the same time it presents personal lives of newly married people sharing their love, immersed in a family life, and a network of kin and friends. We find the production extremely persuasive and convincing, and at the same time perfectly filmed and edited.
BEST EUROPEAN FILM AWARD
offered by the Delegation of the European Commision
Here We Are by Jaroslav Vojtek
This film follows a family of Slovak origin deported to the Kazakh steppes after World War II as they try to resettle in their grandmother’s land. These are not migrants in search of a spectacular dream, merely a family trying to go home. Then result is a universal story of the loss of roots, and the longing for a place in which to belong. Through the main character’s travels we discover the romancing work of memory. This is an extremely beautiful film which never tries to be pretty. There is neither a single arty shot nor any attempt to use the technologies of film to pump up the viewers’ emotions. There is only effortless intimacy between Dimitri and camera.
BEST EAST EUROPEAN FILM AWARD
offered by Duna TV
One Day in People’s Poland by Maciej Drygas
Two realities of daily life in the socialist bloc are brought together to great effect in this Polish production. An artificial world of happy citizens going about their daily lives, lifted from the banal, innocuous documentaries of the period is juxtaposed with the dark reality of threat and constant surveillance. The result is simultaneously comical and chilling as texts taken from secret police files breathe menace and absurd comedy into sanitized images of state socialist film. This film makes a highly original and creative use of archive, revealing meanings in the film material and the texts of the secret police reports unintended by their original creators.
DEVENTER AWARD for Central & Eastern European Competition
offered by Foundation Deventer-Roemenie and Filmhuis de Keizer the Netherlands
Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgystan by Petr Lom
Petr Lom, the filmmaker of Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, was until two weeks before shooting a professional political philosopher who had never picked up a movie camera in his life. The power of observation, the ability of the film-maker to adapt his camera work to each situation, his skill at registering the small, revealing details of his dramas, without even telling us what to think made this powerful, upsetting and challenging film stand out in a strong field of competing films. Whereas many western filmmakers would have surrendered to the temptation to let there outrage shows, Lom plunges as into the immediacy of his characters predicaments. This is the mark of a truly committed documentary film-maker.
ASTRA FILM FEST AWARD for the best Romanian film
offered by British Council Romania
Village of Socks by Ileana Stanculescu
The jury was impressed by the analytical and cinematic qualities of this film, which examines how a small hand industry can help keep village culture alive and empower the local women.With informal interviews, observation of everyday social interactions and gentle humor the filmmaker knits together a perceptive portrait of life in what has historically been a multiethnic village. The film is an enjoyable work of documentary cinema as well as a valuable study of gender and small – scale economics. It raises questions of trust and distrust between communities as Romania enters the European Union.
offered by Romanian Cultural Institute
Leaving Transylvania by Dieter Auner; A Few Things About Queen Marie by Sorin Ilieşiu
BEST STUDENT FILM AWARD
offered by Romanian Television
Into the field by Alyssa Grossman
A very fresh portrait of a generally quite unknown world in contemporary society: a feminine Christian-orthodox monastery.
The young director has been able to look at the life of these young nuns without pre-judgment and fear, in a very friendly and direct way, succeeding to collocate herself in good harmony with the overall spirit of the common young age of the protagonists. A good start, certainly encouraging for a future career of creative documentarist and film-maker.
AWARD FOR STUDENT FILM
offered by National Center of Cinematography Romania
Angelmakers by Astrid Bussink
Many people will be familiar with the topic of this film since there have been several telling of the story in both feature and documentary films. And yet the students who made this film manage to find a new perspective on the story of the women who killed their husbands some 80 years ago. They examine how today’s villagers live together, sharing their memories of the past. And they show how they make sense of events that are rather difficult to explain. The dramaturgical structure of the film cleverly uses association and this, as well as the creative camera work, made it stand out in a strong field of films in this section of the competition.