LOCARNO, Switzerland — “Birds Are Singing in Kigali,” an upcoming drama revolving around the Rwandan genocide by prominent Polish writer-director duo Joanna Kos-Krauze and Krzysztof Krauze, is the winner of the top prize at the Locarno Film Festival’s First Look event dedicated to pics in post.
The industry initiative is focused this year on Poland, which is currently an Eastern European cinematic hotbed.
The prestigious jury panel comprising Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey, Rotterdam fest topper Bero Beyer, and Istanbul International Film Festival director Kerem Ayan, awarded the second prize to “Zgoda,” a first work by Maciej Sobieszczanski about a concentration camp where Germans were imprisoned following their 1946 World War Two defeat, and allegedly tortured by Jews and Poles.
“Birds Are Singing” (pictured) turns on a young Tutsi girl and a European ornithologist who saves her life in 1994 during the slaughter in Rwanda in 1994. Tensions between the two women ensue.
It won Euros 65,000 ($72,000) worth of post-production services sponsored by Cinelab Bucharest.
The co-directors’ previous film, “Papusza,” about the Romany poet Bronislawa Wajs, received a special mention in Karlovy Vary Film Festival’s competition section in 2013 and went on to win multiple prizes at other festivals.
Poland scored the foreign language Oscar in 2015 for Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” while the Berlin Silver Bear last year, for best director, went to his compatriot Malgorzata Szumowska for “Body.” “Brothers” by Wolciech Staron, scooped the critics’ week nod in Locarno last year.
The Locarno spotlight, formerly called Carte Blanche, is in its sixth year. Previous participating countries were Israel (2015), Brazil (2014), Chile (2013), Mexico (2012) and Colombia (2011).
Here is the full list of the 2016 selected films:
13 SUMMERS UNDERWATER by Wiktoria Szymanska, produced by Wiktoria Szymańska, Izabela Igel (Luna W) and Edher Campos (Machete Producciones)
BIRDS ARE SINGING IN KIGALI (Ptaki Spiewają W Kigali) by Joanna Kos-Krauze & Krzysztof Krauze, produced by Joanna Kos-Krauze and Aleksandra Bielska (KosFilm)
THE BUTLER (Kamerdyner) by Filip Bajon, produced by Olga Bieniek and Mirosław Piepka (Film Icon)
DAY OF CHOCOLATE (Dzien Czekolady) by Jacek Piotr Bławut, produced by Anna Bławut-Mazurkiewicz (Aura Films)
I’M A KILLER (Jestem morderca) by Maciej Pieprzyca, produced by Renata Czarnkowska-Listoś and Maria Gołoś (Re Studio)
ZGODA by Maciej Sobieszczanski, produced by Zbigniew Domagalski and Monika Błachnio (Studio Filmowe Kalejdoskop)