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‘Final Cut’ opens Cottbus fest

Guests include Szabo, Dykhovichnaya, Schmidt

MOSCOW — The world’s leading festival of Eastern European cinema opens its 22nd edition Tuesday in Cottbus, Germany.

From its roots as a film club event devoted to preserving the identity of film from Communist Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Cottbus has grown to become a key crossroads event, bringing producers, industry professionals and cineastes together from across Europe.

The festival, which presents prizes worth a total of $95,000, including $25,000 for the top international competition winner, includes an special industry focus, Connecting Cottbus, where works in progress are screened, new projects pitched and professional issues discussed by invited guests.

Fest opens with a gala screening of Hungarian director Gyorgy Palfi’s film about love and cinema, “Final Cut — Ladies and Gentleman.” Described as a “recycled movie,” the film combines love scenes from 500 classic films, feature such stars as Brigitte Bardot, Rita Hayworth and Greta Garbo.

The international competish of 10 films includes eight German premieres and one international preem, including Sergei Loznitsa’s “In the Fog” and Maria Sadowska’s “Women’s Day.”

The lineup includes six of the region’s films entered in the foreign-language category of the Oscars, including Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills” (Romania), Iveta Grofova’s “Made in Ash” (Slovakia) and Waldemar Krzystek’s “80 Million” (Poland.)

A focus on religious films includes Andrei Proshkin’s “The Horde” and Vit Janecek’s “Ivetka and the Mountain.”

There are also sections on Croatia, as seen through four films by Branko Schmidt, films with Eastern European themes from Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese directors, and national hits.

Guests include Hungarian veteran director Istvan Szabo — this year’s honorary fest president, Russian actress/producer Olga Dykhovichnaya and Schmidt.

Fest runs through Nov. 11.

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