LOCARNO — Two portraits of people on the edge, Alexander Kvatashidze’s war-reporter themed docu-feature “See You in Chechnya” and Alejandro Fernandez Almendras’ questioning vengeance thriller “To Kill a Man,” were the big winners Tuesday at Locarno’s Open Doors and Carte Blanche, two of Locarno’s major industry competitions.
A portrait of six war reporters spanning 15 years, inspired by Kvatashidze’s own experience as a wannabe war photographer, “See You in Chechnya” won the $21,500 Open Doors Production Award and an $8,000 Arte Open Doors Award, awarded by the French broadcaster.
In 1999, Kvatashidze crossed the Caucasus Mountains from Georgia to Chechnya to photograph the war there — and to impress a French woman photographer he had fallen in love with, he said in Locarno.
“See You in Chechnya” follows the life stories of six reporters he met there, including their explanations of what makes them tick. The narrative features their ambitious projects, professional success, but also kidnapping, murder and suicide, Kvatashidze added.
His Plan A to complete financing is for his co-producers — France’s Petit a Petit Prod., Estonia’s Exitfilm, and Rolf Oryhel in the Netherlands — to tap state funding in their respective territories. “See You” is set up at Georgia’s Lokokina Studio.
A change of register for Fernandez Almendras after 2009 family saga “Huacho” and 2011’s countryside-set drama “By the Fire,” “To Kill” was developed at Cannes’ Cinefondation-Atelier.
It turns on a father who, after his son is shot and young daughter kidnapped by a preening local delinquent, finally decides to take justice into his own hands.
Where the film stands apart from many vengeance movies, however, is by questioning whether his actions are as pure and altruistic as many pay-back time movies presume.
“The first part of the film justifies what the protagonist has to do. It’s the ‘Dirty Harry’ set-up. But the second part of the film deals with the complexities of that decision,” Fernandez Almendras told Variety at Wednesday’s Awards Ceremony.
He said “To Kill” is around 70% complete and will be ready for delivery early 2014.
Armenian Oksana Mirzoyan won a $16,000 Open Doors Development Award for “Abysm,” about a mother and daughter’s mourning the loss of a son and brother. A portrait of Madona Naroushvili, the only female public bus driver in Georgia, docu-feature “Madona” scooped the $16,000 Open Doors Post-Production Award.
Open Doors’ French film board CNC Award went to Rusudan Pirveli’s “Sleeping Lessons,” about a late-teen’s entrapment in spiraling violence.
Three of the four Open Doors winners are produced out of Georgia. That reflects the seminal impact role of the Georgia National Film Center, a new force in national production. Its support was “crucial” for kick-starting funding on “See You,” Kvatashidze maintained.