Film festival wrapped Saturday

Poland’s Warsaw Film Festival wrapped Saturday, following nine days of screenings and markets in which the impact of Europe’s economic crisis was acutely felt.

Fest’s CentEast market organizer, Magdalena Banasik, said production in the former East Bloc has stalled so badly that her crew struggled to find quality pics to rep the region. “Romania had one,” she said, referring to Anca Damian’s Romanian-Polish animated crimer “Crulic — The Path to Beyond,” which won a special mention in competition.

She added that the state of Hungarian production was almost as grim due to the collapse of public coin sources. Budapest has a new film fund coming online, but the current output is just a trickle, as in much of the rest of Eastern Europe.

Poland, with a stronger economy, is a rare bright spot with robust output including fest’s main prize winner, grueling post-war love story “Rose” by vet horror helmer Wojciech Smarzowski.

Local production is bouyed by the Polish Film Institute, which disburses coin drawn from ticket sales, distribs and TV, but it covers only a portion of budgets. Pubcaster TVP, which once funded most of the country’s productions, is only now returning to that role following years of instability in leadership, say local bizzers.The launch of local shingles, including Wajda Studio, and the revival of talent incubators such as Studio Munka, signal a return to relative health in the country.

Fest’s helming kudo went to Santiago Amigorena for “Another Silence,” an Argentine/Brazilian/Canadian/French co-production about a woman’s vengeance against killers.

Poland’s Robert Wieckiewicz scored best actor for his role in fraternal rivalry tragedy “Courage.”

Russian helmer Angelina Nikonova’s “Twilight Portrait” won for best first or second feature for its “original approach and courage” in conveying the struggle of woman against abuse and indifference. Free Spirit award for unconventionality went to Tamae Garateguy’s Argentine mafia film-within-a-film “Pompeya.”

Docu kudo went to Marina Goldovskaya’s “A Bitter Taste of Freedom,” about the work of murdered Russian journalist, a Swedish/Russian/U.S. co-production.

American Cindy Meehl’s “Buck,” the story of horse whisperer Buck Brannaman, got a special mention.

Bulgaria’s “Ave” by Konstantin Bojanov, about two hitchhikers caught up in lies, took the Fipresci critics’ kudo while ecumenical honors went to Poland’s “Courage” by Greg Zglinski.

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