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‘Paradise’ wins at Serbian festival

Mihal Brezis love story wins at Kustendorf

Serbia’s Kustendorf fest, founded by its most iconoclast resident filmmaker, Emir Kusturica, wrapped Tuesday with the Golden Egg going to helmer Mihal Brezis’ love story “Lost Paradise.”

Czech short “Baba,” by Zuzana Kirchnerova Spidlova, took the Silver Egg, while Lithuanian short “Lernavan,” by Marat Sargsyan, won bronze, with a special mention going to Bulgarian Blagoy Kostov for “Endless.”

Fest, in its third year, connects film students with industryites; juror and producer Sara Driver said the professionals also benefited from exposure to the students’ energy and ideas.

Recalling her days producing Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise” on a miniscule budget over two years in the early 1980s, Driver said, “We formed a kind of community — and that’s what Emir is doing here.”

Brezis was invited to stay on at Kustendorf, in Serbia’s Mokra Gora region, for a month to develop a screenplay.

Youthful attendees were exposed to the insights of individualists including Johnny Depp, Kusturica himself and kudo-winning helmers Elia Suleiman of the Palestinian territories, Russia’s Pavel Lungin, Tunisia’s Raja Amari, Iran’s Asghar Farhadi and Marjane Satrapi, director of the Oscar-nommed “Persepolis,” who served as jury prexy.

Fest saw students and established helmer-scribes mixing amiably over Balkan red wine and dinner.

Novices grilled mentors with detailed questions about cinematography and scripting and filled the Kubrick cinema to hear about the Robert Flaherty experimental film seminar in upstate New York.

Kustendorf, which doubles as a world music confab, wrapped with Serbian folk dancers and choruses, followed by a rocking concert by Kusturica’s the No Smoking Orchestra.

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