'Kukum' takes home special jury prize

SARAJEVO, Bosnia — Bulgarian helmer Georgi Djulgerov’s “Lady Zee,” the story of an orphan girl determined not to become a prostitute, won top honors and e25,000 ($30,500) at the Sarajevo Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday.

Kosovar helmer Isa Qosja’s “The Kukum” took home the special jury prize. The tale of three asylum inmates freed as NATO tanks enter Kosovo in 1999 is the first film to compete under the UNMI (United Nations Mission) Kosovo nationality.

In a bow to the strong mainstream comedies in competition this year, the jury, headed by Serbian actor Miki Manojlovic, singled out perfs by Zrinka Cvitesic in the Croatian “What Is a Man Without a Mustache?” and Peter Musevski in Slovenia’s “Labor Equals Freedom.”

Two other hard-hitting dramas that drew attention were Romanian Ruxandra Zenida’s “Ryna,” about a 16-year-old girl forced to masquerade as man by her alcoholic father, and the Hungarian tale of a drug addict, “Joanna,” by Kornel Mundruczo.

Though bagging no prizes, Bosnian filmmaking was repped by a trio of offbeat films: Nedzad Begovic’s ironic video diary “Totally Personal”; Benjamin Filipovic’s black comedy “Well-Tempered Corpses”; and Ahmed Imamovic’s ground-breaking gay drama “Go West.” Local helmer Danis Tanovic’s “Hell” did not unspool as it is due to be screened in Toronto next month.

Alexander Payne, short film jury prexy, handed the award to “Before Dawn” by Hungarian director Balint Kenyeres. Payne was honored with a retrospective at the nine-day fest. Venice director Marco Muller received the Heart of Sarajevo award for his support of the festival and Bosnian filmmaking.

For a relatively small event, Sarajevo attracted prestigious guests including Peter Mullen, Terry George, Claude Lelouch, Michael Radford, Daniel Craig, Imelda Staunton and Emily Watson who announced the Katrin Cartlidge Fund Scholarship winner. Sundance topper Geoffrey Gilmore and Tribeca chief Peter Scarlet were on hand, promising fest director Mirsad Purivatra future exchanges with their festivals.

In its third round, the co-production market CineLink once more drew a solid group of European producers looking into 10 new films from the region.

Among the offerings were “Balkan Blues,” to be directed by Zornitsa Sophia, winner of last year’s Sarajevo fest with her debut “Mila From Mars.”

At the end of the year, a jury will hand over $30,500 to two projects, based on artistic potential, marketability and feasibility.

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