Batumi film fest finally launches

Sulik wins Grand Prix prize for 'City of the Sun'

There’s a new film fest on the scene and it certainly struggled to make it there.

The first Batumi Intl. Film Festival, in the southern region of Adzharia, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia, closed Nov. 22 having overcome a month’s delay caused by transport blockades from Russia.

Georgia and its erstwhile Soviet master are scrapping over political direction as Georgia moves more toward the EU, while Russia wants to maintain its influence.

Guests flew in from Turkey or through various connecting routes to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, followed by a long rail or road journey to the Black Sea resort town of Batumi.

Fest jury gave the first Grand Prix gold seahorse statuette to helmer Martin Sulik for “City of the Sun,” his ensemble human drama on the consequences of Czech unemployment.

Central European alienation was the subject in other major awards as well, with the silver seahorse for pic going to Estonia-Germany co-prod “Fed Up” by Peeter Simm, and the silver seahorse for director going to Benedek Fliegauf for the bleak Hungarian pic “Dealer.”

Actor award went to Hilmer Thate for his role in Jutta Bruckner’s “Hitler Cantata,” and actress to Sweden’s Maria Lundqvist for her perf in Finland-Sweden co-production “Mother of Mine” from helmer Klaus Haro.

Best debut went to Brazil’s Elza Cataldo for “Rose Wine,” while Brit Kim Longinotto won the docu prize for her Cameroon-set courtroom drama “Sisters in Law.”

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