15 September, 2009

FESTROIA 2009 Winners Announced

The World Is Big And Salvation Lurks Right Around The Corner (Bulgaria)

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

FORBIDDEN FRUIT, a comedic-drama about two religious girls who flaut their strict Christian fundamentalist community rules forbidding the pleasures of television, music, drinking and dancing, won the Gold Dolphin Award as Best Film at this year’s FESTROIA Official Competition. The Finnish film, written by Aleksei Bardy and directed by Dome Karukoski, was both a critical and audience hit here, winning a Silver Dolphin Best Actress prize for its young lead Amanda Pilke and a special CICAE Award. The same director’s gritty drama THE HOME OF THE DARK BUTTERFLIES also received a Honorable Mention nod in the Man And His Environment category. FORBIDDEN FRUIT, which is represented internationally by Non Stop Sales, had its world premiere earlier this summer at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

Winning the Special Jury Prize Silver Dolphin was THE RAINBOW TROOPS, a memory film of growing up on a remote island village by Idonesian director Riri Riza. His earler film? WHAT’S UP WITH LOVE (2002) was a major Indonesian box office sensation. For THE RAINBOW TROOPS, the theme is much more nostalgic and wistful. The RAINBOW TROOPS, which premiered at the Jakarta Film Festival, won the SIGNIS Award at the recent Hong Kong International Film Festival.

The night’s major winner in terms of number of prizes was easily THE WORLD IS BIG AND SALVATION LURKS AROUND THE CORNER, by Bulgarian director Stephan Komandarev. The film, based on a famous novel, tells the unusual tale of a Bulgarian boy who grows up to be a German man, who must relearn his roots when a car accident forces his to lose his memory. The film won multiple awards at FESTROIA, including the Audience Prize, a Silver Dolphin Best Director award for Stephan Komandarev, and the SIGNIS Prize. In addition, the film has won major prizes at the Sofia, Tallinn, Warsaw, Zurich and Bergen film festivals.

Other awards in the FESTROIA Official Competition include a Best Actor Silver Dolphin to young Slovak actor Samuel Spisak for his powerful performance as a young man trying to save himself and his family in the dark days of the Holocaust in BROKEN PROMISE by director Jiri Chlumsky; a Best Script Silver Dolphin to the Danish team of the policier thriller TERRIBLY HAPPY; and a Best Cinematography Silver Dolphin to Karel Fairaisi, for his expressionistic work in the film GUARD NUMBER 47, a historical tale of seduction and murder in post-World War I Czechoslovakia, directed by Filip Renc.

FESTROIA also hosts a number of key competition sections and also organizes specific juries for special prizes. In the Man And His Environment competition, which mixes documentaries and feature films all linked with the theme of man’s inescapable ties to his surroundings, the Top Prize was awarded to Gerardo Olivares of Spain, for 14 KILOMETRES, his compelling story of the divide between North Africans struggling to cross the narrow straights of Gibraltar for a new life in Europe.

With its reputation of breaking new talents, the First Works section is one of the Festival’s most competitive and most closely watched. This year, the top prize was won by THE FRIEND, an unusual non-love story with a quirky script and direction by Swiss debut filmmaker Micha Lewinsky. The Jury also awarded a Special Mention to Norwegian director Eva Sorhaug for the ensemble comedy-drama COLD LUNCH.

The City Hall of Setubal Prize for the North American Independents section was won by Paoloa Mendoza and Gloria La Morte for the immigration-themed drama ENTRE NOS. A special Mention was awarded to directors Myriam Verreault and Henri Bernadet for the semi-documentary WEST OF PLUTO, that examined 24 hours in the lives of typical Quebec teenagers.

Remaining awards announced at the Closing Night Gala this past Saturday evening include: the FIPRESCI International Critics Prize to KATIA’S SISTER, a sharp family tale told from the perspective of a young girl trying to hold her family together, from Dutch director Mijke de Jong; and the newly-launched Mario Ventura Award for Best Short Film Script, awarded to the French team of Cyril Paris and Frederic Hazen for A KISS FOR THE WORLD.

American actor Michael Madsen was honored with a Career Achievement Gold Dolphin for his contribution to American and international cinema in more than 75 films, and for his philanthropic contributions to charities overseas and his literary career as a poet of renown.

For more information on the full program of the 25th edition of FESTROIA: The Troia International Film Festival, visit:


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