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Cottbus 2009, By Pavel Bednařík, Art Director of Association of Czech Film Clubs

For the first time I had this oportunity and chance to become a member of FICC Jury on IFF in Cottbus. As for me the wholy new experience was pointed out by becoming a president of the FICC jury. IFF in Cottbus had its 19th Anual, which supposed to become an ongoing tradition in defining what does it mean Central European film. The festival offered several competitions and some more of-competition programmes – Russian Day, New Cinema from the Black Sea, Retrospective „1989 – Times of Change“ etc.

Although the festival has its long tradition and you can see the famous past of connecting the former West and East European Cinema, now there is a slight tendency to become quite local festival. There are lot of opportunities to encounter the good East European Films anywhere else (for example in IFF Karlovy Vary, IFF Berlinale etc.) And also the history of the city and contemporary post-industrial situation makes the festival bit out of sight.

Anyway – organisers try to do their best, still there is lot of interesting hot spot films, directors, guests, the service for the guests is very special, also the communication was excelent. Bit critisism needs to be said about the information which we needed about the programme. It was difficult to ask anyone about the details of the films (subtitles, language), or to get know about the accompanying programme.

Sometimes there was a strong impresion of a local festival, although most information you have bi-lingual (German, English). You can observe it also on weaker attendence of journalists, guests and audience from Eastern Europe – most of the audience was from Cottbus and still there was only 500 accredited, which was the record.

Still the festival hase its unique tendency to present former Russian countries and ex-Jugoslavian countries and their cinema, which is still not that usual on the big film festivals.

Competition

The Official Competiton, which the FICC Jury was supposed to award the winner, included 10 films from the whole East Europe, where different types, attitudes, authorship measures were in charge. IFF Cottbus organisers had to satisfy with not being the first festival to be screened the competition films, for example Pálfi’s I am not Your Friend was already in IFF Karlovy Vary competition.

These different measures and criteria for the program selection made these films almost uncomparable. Russian manga film, Chechov-like adaptation, Polish cinema verite, Croatian war dramas... mostly coproductions. Finally the FICC jury – including Pavel Bednarik (Czech republic), Christian Henzel (Germany) and John Bjornebye (Norway) – decided to award film by Artan Minarolli’s Albanian Alive! And Special Mention for Russian film Buben Baraban by Aleksei Myzgirjev.

Statements of the Jury

1. FICC Jury decided to Award with the Don Quijote Prize the Albanian film by Artan Minarolli for the film ALIVE!

Jury finds that the film manages to highlight a fundamental conflict between modern city-life and paralyzing deep-rooted traditional rituals. Director maitains in a specific cinematic manner the paradox of traditional values which might come to meaningless blood vengeance with deadly consequences. Authors pose the problem in not black-and-white point of view and don’t offer to the audience easy sollutions.

2. FICC Jury also decided to to give a Special Mention to the Russian film by Aleksei Myzgyriov for the film BUBEN, BARABAN

Jury considers the film a classical, profoundly and professionally shot film, which opens in a dramatic story line a question of man’s responsibility in the human relationships. Director presents a complex psychological profile of main female character, which portraits the existential moment of every humans decision, which is not basically bad, but can lead to catastrophical outcomings.

Presentation of FICC (and the Jury)

The attention for the FICC Jury was uderstandably smoother, that the main Jury. But the ongoing problem is the status of the Jury itself. If there is no other reason to be member of the Jury than „stay on the festival and give Award“, then the Don Quijote prize is bit meaningless.

The status of the Jury was kind of status of the invisible Jury. Also the accomodation was in a far away hotel, where it was not so easy to get (for example after the last night screening). The situation should change on the field of FICC, organisers of the festival did maximum for the comfort of the Jury and all the details of awarding the Prize.

At least there should start a discussion on where FICC is heading, how can we emprove the status of the FICC Juries confronted with the other Juries (it might be interesting to discuss about the distribution of the award winning films for example, or inviting the awarded directors for local festivals).

Conclusion

For the future it is good to target on Cottbus Film festival, to help it make better programme of the local country tradition (Czech cinema was presented with a very strange choice of films – stupid comedy hit Kiss Like a God, RAPublica and coproduction Foxes).

It is also necessary to promote FICC in a better way (posters, leaflets, promo-material, info about the Jury in a catalogue, some adittion to the Award etc.)

It will absolutely help to the status of the FICC prize and FICC Jury not only in Cottbus, but on every other film festival. And the members of the Jury will take it as not a duty, but as a honor to be the member of the Jury!

In Olomouc, 29th of December 2009,
Pavel Bednarik
Art Director of ACFC in Czech republic