Jasmin Mozaffari’s “Firecrackers” and Crystal Moselle’s “Skate Kitchen,” a pair of bold and timely North American features, won best film and best debut at the 29th edition of the Stockholm Film Festival, whose awards were almost entirely scooped by female talents.
“Firecrackers,” which world premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, marks the feature debut of Canadian helmer Mozaffari. The drama follows two best friends who plot a revenge against an abusing ex who violated one of them. But things spin out of control beyond a point of no return.
The festival praised “Firecrackers” for “its originality in portraying the love between two friends, in its urge for freedom, autonomy, loyalty in a violent world, and bringing us to situations in a way that we have never seen before.”
It’s “a perfectly directed film where all elements come together in a unique universe of its own,” the festival added.
Mozaffari has said in interviews that she was driven to make the film because she had been a victim of sexual harassment when she was 15. “Firecracker’s” Michaela Kurimsky won best actress for her performance, which was described by the festival as “dangerous, sensitive, explosive, strong, intelligent, unpredictable, creative and complex.”
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Moselle, meanwhile, nabbed best debut with “Skate Kitchen,” which previously won the audience prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The movie is a multiracial portrait of a female skater crew in Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Variety’s Andrew Barker said: “’Skate Kitchen’ has plenty to say about the lengths to which young women must go to clear out a little breathing room in testosterone-heavy spaces, but it is first and foremost an irresistible hangout movie, offering a thoroughly millennial, vérité spin on ’80s skater classics like ‘Thrashin.'”
The festival said the film won best debut for “its freshness and innovation in taking risks and challenging stereotypes, for being authentic in depicting love, friendship and youth, with its honest and complex characters.”
An up-and-coming helmer, Moselle won Sundance’s 2015 jury prize with her documentary “The Wolfpack.”
The best director prize went to German helmer Eva Trobisch for “All Good,” a fierce feature debut revolving around a young woman who is raped but refuses to be victim. The movie was a standout at Locarno, where it won the first-feature competition.
“All Good” uses a “coherent and subtle film-language [portraying] a character who shrinks her own mental space until there is nothing left, trying to refuse the reality that eats her up from inside,” the festival said.
Nadine Labaki’s “Capernaum,” which won Cannes’ Jury Prize, received Stockholm’s best script award. The heart-wrenching film follows a 12-year-old boy who sues his parents for neglect. The Stockholm nod was given to Labaki, Jihad Hojeily and Michelle Kesrouani, who penned the screenplay in collaboration with Georges Kabbaz (with the participation of Khaled Mouzanar).
“Capernaum” represents Lebanon in the foreign-language Oscar race and is being handled by Sony Pictures Classics.
The best actor nod was awarded to Victor Polster for his performance in Lukas Dhont’s “Girl,” which won Cannes’ Golden Camera and was picked up by Netflix. Polster, who stars in the movie as a transgender teen who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, won best actor at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.
Brazilian writer-director Beatriz Seigner’s “Los Silencios” won this year’s Impact Award. The film, which world premiered at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, is a supernatural drama about a family torn by Colombia’s civil conflict.
The best cinematography award went to Hiroshi Okayama for “Jesus,” while the best documentary nod was given to exiled Russian filmmaker Vitaly Mansky’s “Putin Witnesses.”