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Cottbus festival increases prize money

Budget rises above Euros 600,000 ($835,000)

KARLOVY VARY — Eastern European filmmakers are being offered a bigger prize purse at Europe’s leading festival devoted to movies from the region, Cottbus Film Festival.

The fest’s overall budget — which this year will be in excess of Euros 600,000 ($835,000) — is also likely to be slightly higher than last year due to increased support from sponsors, which include major industrial and mining company Vattenfall, the Berlin-Brandenburg state film funding agency and the EU Media program.

Cottbus, which marks its 19th edition in November, announced Monday new prizes totaling $8,356, which will take its prize purse to $97,467.

A new $4,175 award — the Dialog Prize for Intercultural Communication, backed by the German foreign office — is to be established this year and an additional $4,175 is also likely to be made available for an existing non-cash award for best debut chosen by university students from the region. Three local colleges — the Brandenburg University of Technology, Cottbus, the Lausitz University of Applied Sciences and Berlin’s Konrad Wolf film and television academy — are planning to put in the cash, festival director Roland Rust said during a presentation at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

Based in the former East German town of Cottbus, situated between Berlin and Dresden, the festival has established itself as a key focus for Eastern European filmmakers.

It attracts a strong industry attendance for its associated Connecting Cottbus co-production forum, which has established a track record as a successful incubator for European co-productions.

Polish-German co-prod “Piggies” (Swinki) directed by Robert Glinski — a controversial examination of the cross-border business in homosexual pedophilia, where German men travel to Poland for sexual encounters with boys and young men — which is in the main competition at Karlovy Vary’s 44th edition, is the first film to emerge from the Connecting Cottbus co-prod event to be programmed in the full competition section of an A-class festival.

Cottbus festival director Rust told Variety: “The festival is enjoying continued — even increased support — despite the economic downturn because it is recognized as a successful champion and promoter of Eastern European film.

“We are both a showcase for film from the region and a tool for creating pan-European co-productions.”

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