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Georgian Film ‘Corn Island,’ Elle Fanning Win Big at Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Georgian filmmaker George Ovashvili’s “Corn Island” took top prize Saturday at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, the leading movie event in Central and Eastern Europe.

The film, which brought together partners from Georgia, Germany, France, Czech Republic and Kazakhstan, also received $25,000. It was produced by Nino Devdariani for Alamdary Film.

The psychological drama, which is set by the river that forms the border between Georgia and Abkhazia, focuses on an old peasant and his relationship with nature.

Hungarian helmer Gyorgy Palfi’s “Free Fall,” which is a Hungary, France and South Korea co-production, won the Special Jury Prize, which comes with $15,000. Palfi also won the best director award.

The film, which was produced by Ferenc Pusztai at KMH Film, starts with an old woman jumping off the roof of her apartment block. The audience then learns about the parallel lives of the other inhabitants in the block.

Accepting his award, Palfi said: “I wish for every auteur to have an audience like you. Do you know why I am the best director in Karlovy Vary tonight? Because I have such a nice crew, and without you I couldn’t be here.”

Elle Fanning took the actress award for her role in Jeff Preiss’ U.S. indie pic “Low Down.” Preiss, who accepted the award on her behalf, said the festival was a “movie paradise.”

Argentine thesp Nahuel Perez Biscayart won best actor for his role in David Lambert’s “All Yours,” a Belgium-Canada co-pro. The actor had just flown 20 hours from Argentina to get to Karlovy Vary, which he had only left a few days earlier. He thanked Lambert, adding: “He was always so lovable, and working with him was so inspiring. I really grew up through making this film.”

The winner of the East of the West competition, which is for first and second films from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and the countries of the former Soviet Union, went to Ivan I. Tverdovsky’s “Corrections Class,” which is a Russia-Germany co-production. It received $20,000. The special mention went to Ivan Ikic’s “Barbarians,” a co-production between Serbia, Montenegro and Slovenia.

Before presenting the awards, East of the West jury prexy Ahmet Boyacıoglu said, “I love this festival, and I’ve been coming here for 15 years, and I believe this festival is actually the face of this country, and I have a message for the Czech politicians and sponsors in the audience: Do something, do more.”

The award for a documentary over 60 minutes was won by Teodora Ana Mihai’s “Waiting for August” from Belgium. The film centers on seven Romanian siblings, who are left to fend for themselves when their mother goes to work in Italy. The director said she wanted to “give a special thanks to the family that let me film such intimate moments in their lives.”

The special mention went to Lisa Weber’s “Steadiness” from Austria.

The award for a documentary under 30 minutes — and $5,000 — went to Boris Poljak’s “Autofocus” from Croatia, and the special mention went to Manuel Abramovich’s “The Queen” from Argentina, who said that today Argentina had won a special mention, and tomorrow “we’ll win the World Cup.”

Ester Amrami’s “Anywhere Else” (Germany) nabbed the Forum of Independents award with Euros 5,000 attached.

The Audience Award went to Olga Sommerova’s “The Magic Voice of a Rebel” from Czech Republic.

Next year’s festival, which is its 50th edition, will be held from July 3-11.

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