‘In Between’ wins Kusturica’s fest

Anti-commercial event honors 17-minute film

LONDON — Serbian film director Emir Kusturica wrapped the first edition of his self-consciously anti-commercial film festival Monday with an awards ceremony for the best student films screened in the past week at his Mokra Gora mountain retreat.

“In Between,” a 17-minute existential take on love, solitude and the fear of commitment by Spanish director Jose Iglesias, a student at Poland’s national film school, took the festival’s first prize golden egg.

The silver egg went to British documentary filmmaker Martin Hampton for “Possessed,” his fascinating study of hoarders — people who are unable to thrown things away.

Hampton, a graduate of London’s Goldsmiths College visual anthropology masters course, said the film was an insight into extreme forms of a common human habit.

The bronze egg was won by Colombian director Franco Lolli, a graduate of French film school Le Femis for “Like Everybody Else,” the story of a teenager’s relationship with his mother as he struggles to hide his relative poverty from rich school friends.

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The festival, which Kusturica hosted at the Serbian log-cabin settlement he has been building for four years in the mountains 120 miles from Belgrade, encourages the brightest and best film school talent from around the world.

Lamenting the decline of auteur film over the past two or three decades, Kusturica — who has been lauded at Cannes and other top European and international festivals for films that include “Life is a Miracle” and “Black Cat, White Cat” — established the festival as an antidote.

Too many courageous and experimental young directors lose their way once they embark upon the many compromises of commercial or professional filmmaking, Kusturica thinks.

The festival, supported by the Serbian Ministry of Culture, was attended by directors that Kusturica counts as among his influences, including Russia’s Nikita Mikhalkov and British Michael Radford. It opened Jan. 14 with a mock funeral for reels of “Die Hard” movies, representing the sort of commercial film that Kusturica dislikes.

More than 110 guests and competitors attended the festival, including French actress Audrey Tautou.

Next year Kusturica hopes to bring in more film from Africa, Asia and Latin America.