Saturday, 30 July 2011

Sarajevo - Final Day

Yesterday I awarded the CICAE Prize to BREATHING, an Austrian film by first time director Karl Markovics (better known as an actor from COUNTERFEITERS). It's a beautifully engaging film, full of emotions but lacking any sentimentality or cliche. Austere and rigorous in its realisation, it's also surprisingly funny. The story of a 19 year old struggling to reintegrate into society while serving time in a juvenile detention center, it stood out far above all the other films in the competition.

The only other film that was considered for the prize was AMNESTY, an Albanian film which was solid throughout but let itself down with a melodramatic ending and a jarring harmonica score.

All the films in competition were interesting, but if there was one common complaint it was that the stories and scripts were seriously undercooked. Slovenian drama THE TRIP and Croatian drama SPOTS suffered from an amateur style which hampered the best efforts of its young cast. BROKEN MUSSELS, a Turkish attempt at neo-realism, benefited from likable child actors and great locations but lacked real dramatic drive and was clumsy at times. WASTED YOUTH was a PARANOID PARK style Greek feature which featured some fantastic skating footage in Athens but like many of the others, concluded with a over the top ending which made no sense. Finally LOVERBOY was a well-crafted Romanian drama which failed to ignite me emotionally but looked great, and AVE, a very slow Bulgarian film which featured Bruno S's final performance.

My Balkan experience has been fantastic - I've seen some beautiful places, met some wonderful people and spent time with some of my favorite friends. Thanks to Tanja in Pula and to the Sarajevo Film Festival for hosting us. Back to work now.

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