Molodist fest lauds ‘Band’s Visit’

'Dreamin'' takes special jury prize

MOSCOW — Eran Kolirin’s “The Band’s Visit” took the top Scythian Deer prize at Ukraine’s Molodist Film Festival, which wrapped Sunday in Kiev.

The Israeli-French pic also picked up the ecumenical jury prize.

The main fest jury, which was headed by Iranian helmer Mohsen Makhmalbaf and included veteran festival programmer Moritz de Hadeln, gave its special prize to Romania’s “California Dreamin’.” Cristian Nemescu’s pic also took the international critics’ Fipresci prize.

The kudo for feature and the audience prize went to German-Polish “Wholetrain” from Florian Gaag.

Short film kudo went to Poland’s “Ark,” directed by Grzegorz Jonkajtys.

Backed by a new financial partner, the Hares group, Ukraine’s leading fest is expanding, with a larger program of talent workshops and a fledgling film market.

The fest, like Ukraine itself, is becoming more engaged with the international community. The opening film, “Duska,” by Dutch arthouse filmmaker Jos Stelling, epitomizes this international thrust. The pic was co-produced by the fest, and the project has its origins in Stelling’s visit to the fest five years ago.

Sergei Makovetsky, who is Russian but was born in Kiev, toplines the offbeat cross-cultural story of interaction between Western European and Slavic protagonists. Extensive location work took place in Ukraine.

The relationship between Russia and Ukraine has been strained in recent years, principally because of energy disputes and Ukraine’s move toward membership of the European Union and NATO. So the fest’s closing film, Russian historical epic “1612,” was of particular interest to Ukrainian auds.

Vladimir Khotinenko’s patriotic story, set in 17th century Russia during “The Time of Troubles,” pits invading Ukrainian-Polish forces against the nascent Russian state. The conflict led to the founding of the Romanov Tsarist dynasty and Russia’s dominance in the region, which lasts to this day.