Yemeni film “The Burdened,” directed by Amr Gamal, won the Works in Progress Post-Production Development Award in Eastern Promises, the industry section of the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival on Tuesday.
The story, written by Gamal and Mazen Refaat, centers on Ahmed, Isra’a and their three children in Aden, Yemen in 2019. Both parents lose their jobs and suffer from the economic crisis. The movie starts with Isra’a finding out about her pregnancy at a time when they cannot cover the expenses of a new child, leading them to make difficult decisions in order to survive.
The jury said it was “impressed by the director’s brave approach to tackling this sensitive subject against all odds.”
The Yemen-Sudan coproduction is produced by Mohsen Alkhalifi, Gamal, Amjad Abu Alala and Mohammed Alomda.
The Works in Progress Karlovy Vary IFF Award went to “Endless Summer Syndrome,” directed by Kaveh Daneshmand, an Iranian filmmaker based in Czech Republic.
In the film Delphine and Antoine live an affluent life with their two adopted kids, Aslan and Adia. They are preparing for Aslan’s departure to the U.S. to study entomology, spending the last few days of his stay in their summer villa. Delphine receives an anonymous phone call telling her that, at the peak of a drunken night with his colleagues, Antoine mumbled something about having a relationship with one of his children. Confused, Delphine tries to get a grip on herself and quietly investigate the claim.
The jury said it appreciated “how the film pushes the boundaries of modern society and questions family love. We believe in the film’s audience potential.”
The Turkey-France coproduction was produced by Gem Deger, Eva Larvoire, Cédric Larvoire and Daneshmand.
A special mention went to “The Visitors,” a coproduction between Czech Republic, Norway and Slovak Republic, directed by Veronika Lišková and produced by Kristýna Michálek Květová.
The jury said it had decided to give a special mention to this film “as it touches on the subject of immigration in a very unconventional and intriguing way. We consider the film to be fully accomplished and have no doubt that quite soon the finished film will travel the festival circuit.”
The Works in Progress TRT Award was won by “Windless,” a Bulgaria-Italy coproduction, directed by Pavel G. Vesnakov and produced by Veselka Kiryakova, Alessandro Amato and Luigi Chimienti.
The jury said the award was for the project’s “strong artistic vision, mature directing and meditative way of storytelling, which creates a mirror for the viewer.”
The jury for works in progress projects consisted of Oscar-winning producer Ewa Puszczyńska, from Opus Film, Dennis Ruh, director of the Berlinale’s European Film Market, Cosima Finkbeiner, senior festival manager and sales at Beta Cinema, Esra Demirkiran, festival coordinator at TRT Cinema, and Michaela Patríková, a sound designer at Soundsquare.
KVIFF and Midpoint Development Award was given to Swedish project “My Best Friend’s Baby,” directed by Sophie Vuković and produced by Eliza Jones and Markus Waltå.
The jury said the filmmakers’ “take on queer parenthood and culture clashes is specific yet universal, and, last but not least, it’s fun.”
It follows Damir and Sara, who have found a home in Stockholm’s queer community. Damir floats among nightclubs, and still hasn’t come out to his family in Croatia. Sara, single and self-reliant, wants to have a child on her own. The friends are convinced that they’re so progressive that even a baby can’t change their special bond. Damir offers to donate his sperm – but won’t be involved as a dad.
When Damir visits Croatia for his cousin’s wedding, pregnant Sara comes along. As usual, if his family want to assume they are a couple, that’s up to them. Once on the Adriatic island, their straight act begins to live a life of its own. Damir’s boisterous and intrusive family soon figure out that Sara is pregnant. Now Damir and Sara must face the fact that the baby is real and on its way – and that everything is about to change.
The jury consisted of Danijel Hočevar, producer at Vertigo, Paul Ridd, head of acquisitions at Picturehouse Entertainment in the U.K., and Julia Sinkevych, producer at JS Films.
The Connecting Cottbus Award went to “Dolphin” from Poland, directed and written by Sonja Orlewicz-Zakrzewska, and produced by Magdalena Sztorc, who also won the Rotterdam Lab Award.
The TRT First Cut+ Award was won by “The Maiden,” a Canada-U.S. coproduction, directed by Graham Foy, and produced by Daiva Zalnieriunas and Dan Montgomery.
The Odesa Intl. Film Festival works in progress award went to “U Are the Universe” from Ukraine, directed by Pavlo Ostrikov and produced by Volodymyr Yatsenko and Anna Yatsenko.
Hugo Rosák, the head of the KVIFF Film Industry Office, said: “This year brought us back to live pitching sessions after two pandemic years, and we were delighted to see the return of both our industry audience and the well-prepared creative teams to a true brick-and-mortar cinema.”