Polish director Maria Sadowska wins $25K for debut film

LONDON

Debut Polish director Maria Sadowska’s “Women’s Day,” about the humiliating conditions local supermarkets force on female employees, won the prize for best film and $25,000 Saturday at the closing of Germany’s 22nd Cottbus Festival of Eastern European Film.

Sadowska, an actress and model, confronts uncomfortable truths about the exploitation of women workers that include the indignity of being forced to wear adult diapers for shifts in which no toilet breaks are allowed.

Her film is a story of hope, depicting one woman’s fight against the injustice of intolerable working condition.

The international jury at Cottbus, south-east of Berlin, Germany, said, “We were struck by the courage and will to persevere in a beautifully told story of a strong woman.”

A special jury prize of $9,500 went to Croatian helmer Arsen Anton Ostojic for his “deep and emotionally captivating” film “Halima’s Path”.

Ostojic’s third feature, which also won the audience award, tells the true story of a mixed Muslim-Christian marriage that has tragic consequences when civil war tears the Balkans apart in the 1990s.

Best director went to Poland’s Leszek Dawid for his story of a Polish hip-hop group Paktofonica, “You Are God.”

Best actress was shared by Russia’s Anna Mikhalkova and Yana Troyanova for their roles in comedy “Kokoko,” about the relationship between two very different women thrown together by fate in today’s St. Petersburg.

Russia’s Vladimir Svirskiy took best actor for his lead role in Sergei Loznitsa’s Cannes-player “In the Fog.”

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