‘Captive’ captivates Cottbus festival

Drama takes main prize at event

MOSCOW — Russian director Alexei Uchitel’s treatment of the war in Chechnya, “Captive,” took the main prize of the international jury at the18th Cottbus Festival of East European Film on Saturday.

A Russian-Bulgarian co-production that has courted controversy in Russia for its homoerotic undertones and sympathetic portrayal of a young Chechen guerrilla fighter, “Captive” won best director at the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary Festival in July.

The film was presented in Cottbus, a picturesque old Prussian town in former East Germany near Berlin, by the director’s wife and co-producer Kira Saksaganskaya.

Another film with Russian input, “Tulpan” — an international co-production that is Kazakhstan’s nomination for best foreign film in the Oscars — took a special prize for director for Sergei Dvortsevoy.

A special prize for outstanding artistic contribution went to Polish director Michal Rosa for the screenplay of his film “Scratch” about a woman who discovers her husband of 45 years was a secret police spy ordered to marry her.

In other awards, Russian film “Wild Field” by Mikhail Kalatozishvili picked up a Fipresci jury prize and an ecumenical jury distinction.

Fellow Russian Vladimir Kott won a best debut prize from the festival’s student jury for his film “Mukha” about a man whose past catches up with him in the form of a daughter he never knew he had.

Russian film had been highlighted in a special Russian day at the festival that showcased the latest developments in cinematography from the country.

The Cottbus discovery award went to Estonian director Andri Luup for his debut “Kinnunen.”

Czech director Bohdan Slama’s new film about a closeted homosexual teacher who flees the city for the country after a failed relationship won the audience award.

The festival, founded shortly after the Berlin wall came down but before East and West Germany were reunited, is Europe’s longest running event devoted to showcasing central and eastern European film.

This year it screened 136 films from 36 countries, attracted some 500 professional visitors and 17,300 members of the public to screenings, discussions and other events.

With a two day co-production sidebar, Connecting Cottbus (CoCo), now in its tenth year, the festival has become an important meeting point for producers and filmmakers.

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