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Serb war tale wins Cottbus festival

'Ordinary People' nabs main prize, best actor

A Serbian film about the speed with which a young army recruit is turned into a killer of civilians, “Ordinary People,” took top prize Saturday at the closing of the Cottbus Festival of Eastern European Film.

The $27,000 main prize for best film will be divided between the director Vladimir Perisic and producers Anthony Doncque and Milena Povlo.

A disturbing examination of the power and banality of evil, the jury at the festival said the film — which already took the top prize last August at the Sarajevo Film Festival — demonstrated “extraordinary artistic value” and had “all the components of a really great work: a strong story, outstanding director’s and d.p.’s work, wonderful acting and astonishingly refined construction.”

Actor Relja Popovic, who plays the raw recruit turned into a murderer, won a $7,500 award for outstanding actor, a new prize category introduced this year at Cottbus.

Anna Karczmarczyk, a young Polish actress who plays an innocent schoolgirl dragged into the vacuous world of a gang of high-school girls in Katarzyna Roslaniec’s “Mall Girls,” took the outstanding actress award.

Roslaniec also won best debut for her film about the empty lives of girls who see value only in material objects.

Best director award was shared between Zvonimir Juric and Goran Devic from Croatia for dark war story “The Blacks” and Russian director Aleksey Mizgirev “Buben Baraban.” “The Blacks” also picked up the Fipresci film critics prize and “Buben Baraban” an ecumenical award.

In other awards, Pici Papai’s “Coming Out” took the main prize for best short feature and Sasa Ban’s “Interior, Apartment, Night” got a special prize.

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