Russian '4' among Rotterdam winners

ROTTERDAM — Filmmakers from Russia, Spain and Italy took the highest honors in the main Tiger Awards competition at the 34th Rotterdam Film Fest’s gala awards ceremony Friday.

Russian lenser Ilya Khrzhanovsky’s “4,” Spanish helmer Mercedes Alvarez’s “The Sky Turns,” and Italian director Daniele Gaglianone’s “Changing Destiny” padded away with e10,000 each ($13,000) and the promise from Dutch broadcaster and sponsor VPRO of airing on Dutch TV.

Jury report said Khrzhanovsky, in “4”– easily the most controversial pic at the fest — showed “real courage” in his portrayal of “the total disintegration of a society that devours itself.”

Jury gave Daniele Gaglianone kudos for the handling, in “Changing Destiny,” of “the relationships between the young rebellious boys and their highly disturbed families.” Mercedes Alvarez was cited for her “timing and sensitivity to the light and quality of landscape” in “The Sky Turns.”

Tickets to “4” were sold out well before screenings, but reception was mixed. Khrzhanovsky, when he appeared at the Rotterdam Film Parliament, also drew criticism from another Russian helmer, Pavel Ruminov, who clearly did not agree with the film’s viewpoint.

Holland’s Joost van Veen and David Lammers, and Germany’s Thomas Koner, took the first edition of the TV5 Tiger Cub Awards and $4,000 each for their short pics “Interlude,” “Veere” and “Nuuk,” respectively.

The 34th edition of the fest (Jan. 26-Feb. 6), was marked by its first real censorship, when slain Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh’s company Column Prods. withdrew the short film “Submission, Part I” on the advice of the Dutch secret service for security reasons. Fest organizers and even the mayor of Rotterdam had pleaded with Column to keep the film in.

The controversial short, which is critical of alleged tolerance of abuse of women in Islamic society, has been linked to van Gogh’s Nov. 2. murder.

Khrzhanovsky’s film “4” was also initially censored in Russia, but is now being allowed, although critics wonder if the Russian public will ever see the film.

While the film lineup for the competish was seen as generally unexciting, business appeared to be energetic, both inside and outside CineMart.

Fortissimo Film Sales co-managing director of the Amsterdam office Nelleke Driessen said Fortissimo already had two projects from the co-production/co-financing sidebar CineMart attached, but picked up another during the fest.

“This has been a very busy market for us,” she noted, adding pitching was brisk, both inside and outside CineMart. “We talked to a number of producers and I’m sure we will see some of their projects attached in the future,” she added.

(Jay Weissberg in Italy contributed to this report.)

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