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The grand closing ceremony of the 8th Odesa International Film Festival (OIFF) took place July 22 at the Odesa Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. The main prize – the Grand Prix – based on the results of the audience vote was awarded to the film “King of the Belgians” by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth. Director Roman Bondarchuk became the recepient of the Golden Duke’ for the film “Dixie Land” in the nomination “Best Feature Film”. “The Leading Role” by Serhiy Bukovsky became the best documentary. Isabelle Huppert and Agnieszka Holland received awards for their contribution to cinema. The Minister of Culture of Ukraine Yevhen Nyshchuk presented actress Lia Akhedzhakova with a symbolic gift – a painting of her together with actor Bogdan Stupka.
Odesa Film Festival has convincingly proved that Ukrainian cinema is developing and may get awards of world film festivals. Especially documentary. "The main role" and "Dixie Land", perfectly met by the audience, is the best confirmation of this. Very expected film Vasyanovich "Black Level", on the contrary, was mostly scolded. This is an experimental work about the crisis of middle age, without words and virtually without a script. Valentin Vasyanovich - the operator, who worked including on the cult film "Tribe". Accordingly, the "Black Level" is one way or another built on a beautiful picture and annoying long plans, often unjustified. This is an experiment for the sake of experiment. Cinema for filmmakers. The filmmakers appreciated it. The audience is probably not. "Priputni" is the first full-length film in the world, completely built on surzhik. Working with the language in this picture is amazing.
The winner of the European Documentary Competition was announced first. It became the film “The Leading Role” by Sergey Bukovsky, which was presented in two competition programmes simultaneously. The award was received by Serhiy Bukovsky and his mother, actress Nina Antonova. “My mother said, “Do not shoot me – I'm too small, no one will see me. Mom is small, but very strong. And you have to try very hard to spoil her character. I hope that I have not spoiled it,” said Serhiy Bukovsky. The award was presented by Roman Bondarchuk and Marianna Kaat. The FIPRESCI prize was awarded to a Ukrainian short film “Lilac” by Kateryna Gornostai. Also, the FIPRESCI jury recognized the film “Black Level” by Valentin Vasyanovych as the best Ukrainian feature film. Actress Kateryna Molchanova starred in both winning films. The jury of the National Competition named Pavlo Ostrikov’s “Graduation '97” the best Ukrainian short film. Nina Antonova was awarded the Best Actor award for the film “The Leading Role”. The winner of the Golden Duke became the film “Dixie Land” by Roman Bondarchuk (Ukraine, Latvia, Germany). “This film took 7 years to make, 7 years of our life,” said Roman Bondarchuk. The film “The Strayed” by Arkadii Nepytaliuk got a special mention from the Jury of the National Competition, as did “Lilac” by Kateryna Gornostai. The International Jury, led by Christian Petzold, issued a special mention for presenting a mixture of fiction and reality from to the film by Jun Geng “Free and Easy” (China). The ensemble of actors – Ia Shugliashvili, Tsisia Kumsishvili from the Georgian film “My Happy Family” (Georgia, Germany) by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross won in the nomination “Best Acting Work”. Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross also became the best directors of the International Competition Programme. The best film of the International Competition, according to the jury, became “Summer 1993” (Spain) by Carla Simon. This is a film about 6-year-old Frida, who, after the death of her parents, moves from Barcelona to live with her uncle’s family.
The audience, though, gave preference to the film “King of the Belgians” (Belgium, the Netherlands, Bulgaria) by Peter Brosens and Jesse Woodworth – the film received the Grand Prix of the 8th Odesa Film Festival.
The great Polish director, screenwriter, three-time Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland was awarded for her contribution to cinema: “Ukraine has its own cinematic voice. You do have stories to tell.” The award was presented by actress Larisa Kadochnikova. Also, French actress Isabelle Huppert received the Golden Duke for her contribution to cinema from the hands of the OIFF president Viktoriya Tigipko.
Odesa Film Festival was organized very competently. Along with the competitive films, OIFF includes the programs "Gala-premieres", during which the latest works of Francois Ozon and Serhiy Loznytsia, and the "Festival of Festivals", were introduced. These works were marked at major world festivals in Cannes, Berlin, and Venice. However, not only there. For example, the film "Asura: Mad City" by South Korean filmmaker Kim Sun-Soo received "Blue Dragon" film award for his best acting and best camerawork. It was shown in the middle of the festival, and it was an entertaining shake-up for the viewer. A perfect example of Korean noir.
A number of films were accompanied by a lot of excitement and lack of tickets. "Fatal Temptation" by Sofia Coppola gathered a queue, which stretched almost to the next street. This feminist or antifeministic film is the unconditional benefit of Nicole Kidman, next to which even a charismatic actor, like Colin Farrell, was lost in the frame.
OIFF has quite clearly exposed the problems of modern cinema. Now feminism is a fashionable theme, and a lot of films in one way or another relate to this topic. European cinema is more reflective of modern Europe (immigrants, terrorism, who have joined new territories from the former Soviet camp). Debutants and beginners often take off something autobiographical. Sometimes they have something to say, they build imagery, they try to find their own language. Sometimes this does not happen, and the film rolls into a rather dull spectacle with an incoherent set of frames. Obviously, there is a big problem of explanatory scenarios. Vasyanovich began to shoot his "Black Level" without a script at all, building a story and creating his character in the process of filming. He considers this to be cool, like this is a strong side of his film. Most viewers disagreed with him. As usual, road-movie was widely represented at the festival, but nothing new or even interesting in this genre was demonstrated. Although the "King of the Belgians", a rather boring and superficial mix of mockumentary and road-movie, positioned as a comedy, still got the Grand Prix of the festival. Several different works of different directors repeated the same scene: a full bath of water, the hero cuts his veins, blood, an unexpected phone call and pulling the wound with a towel (or scotch tape). It is quite curious: the nature of the same metaphor for different artists.
In fact, Odesa uses not to praise the Odesa Film Festival. Odesites grumble: do you call it red carpet? That’s not a red carpet! Why are the streets blocked? There are no posters, there are no tickets. Who is this festival organized for? Only for the filmmakers, not for the viewers! Of course this is not true. All the tickets could be easily purchased in the first two days of the festival or booked on the site. Posters around the city here are completely out of place, because it would be impossible to present more than 100 films.
Odesa Film Festival is definitely gaining momentum, becoming more and more interesting, unexpected and eventful. It attracts more and more movie fans and people, somehow connected with the film business. It is wonderful that such a festival of this level is taking place in our country.