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Politics took center stage at the Motovun Film Festival this past week in Croatia, with several of the award-winning films focusing on social and current issues.

“Motovun returned to its radical political roots this year,” said festival president Mike Downey.

Ukrainian filmmaker Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy earned Propeller, the festival’s top award, for his film “The Tribe.” The film, which marked Slaboshpytskiy’s film debut, is entirely told through sign language and centers on a young man struggling to find his place in the social hierarchy. The film first premiere at Cannes Critics’ Week and won several prizes.

“Not being able to hear a word, the audience understands the conversations of deaf people through the coldness and aggression they express,” said Inna Schevchenko, a member on the award selection committee.

A jury of people who live in exile or are under house arrest selected Slaboshpytskiy’s as the prize winner.

The festival’s organizers said Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian director and jury member who was arrested by Russian forces in May, was kept in mind during the festival.

“Our goal to bring attention to Oleg Sentsov who lingers in a Russian prison still was successful,” Downey said.

Special mention went to Peter Groning’s “The Police Officer’s Wife.”

Director Ruben Ostlund received the Fipresci Award for his film “Force Majeue,” a comedy looking at a man’s role in modern family life. Martin Rath’s film “The Arena” won the short film competition.