On Sunday, the 18th Neisse Film Festival in the three-country-corner on the Neisse river will draw to ta close. The Neisse Fish, the prize sculptures created by artist Andreas Kupfer from Strahwalde, were awarded at the prize ceremony at the Ebersbach Cinema on Saturday evening.
The "Three-Country Film Prize", endowed with 10,000 by the Saxon Minister of Culture for the best full-length feature film and funded by the Saxon Ministry for Science, Culture and Tourism (SMWK), has been awarded to the Czech-Slovak contribution, "Služobníci" (the Servants) by Ivan Ostrochowský. The jury, with the German film director Susanne Heinrich, the Czech producer and programmer Daniel Vadocký and the Polish director and screenplay writer Łukasz Grzegorzek had to decide between 9 films, three each from Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.. "Služobníci" (the Servants) tells a universal story about friendship, resistance and betrayal in a sparing, taciturn way. "Every single frame of this film is exciting. A group of seminary students walking swiftly, arms flailing, down a sloping street toward us. The quadrangle of an inner courtyard from above, through which the students whirl, playing soccer, so that their black cassocks form fleeting patterns. A slow pan down from the ceiling to one of them jumping trampolines in his room. With these striking images, "Servants" tells the story of two friends in totalitarian Czechoslovakia who arrive as priesthood candidates at the theological faculty, which is under surveillance by state security for political machinations. It is a universalist story of friendship, resistance, betrayal; told sparingly and elliptically. The astute editing, the carefully chosen visual arrangements, the tastefully minimalist set and amateur actors with impressively naturalistic acting tell it vividly and yet pleasantly distanced. But most of all, this film is a reminder of what cinema is: an arrangement of light and shadow and movement in time. Wonderful!," the jurors write in their decision statement.
The prize sponsored by the city of Zittau for the best acting performance went to Sara Fazilat in her performance in the film "Nico" by Eline Gehring (DE). The film tells the story of the rebirth of a young carefree, slightly frightened girl into a vigilant woman full of inner aggression. The director managed to achieve great control over the main character, played by Sara Fazilat, and her balance between distinctly emotional tones. Thanks to the constant visibility of the main protagonist, emotional transparency is also present, so as viewers we see not only what is happening outside, but also inside the main character, which is very crucial for the overall tone of the film.“, the jury pointed out.
Vladimír Hruška was honored for his work on "Havel" (CZ) by Slávek Horák with the prize sponsored by the city of Görlitz for the best production design. According to the jury member, "The film is excellently built in terms of craftsmanship. It depicts in a very believable way twenty years of communism - both its lustful abundance and exuberance of the richest and the most powerful, insufficiency and poverty of the poorest. Excellently arranged scenes and the right placement of seemingly random objects, which in some places add a very sensual charge to the individual scenes helps to achieve the accuracy of the depicted period."
The Neisse Fish for the best screenplay, sponsored by the Region of Libreec, went to Lars Hubrich and director Marcus Lenz for the German film "Rivale" (Rivals). The jury thus honored „… a bold-written film about a boy from torn-by-war Ukraine who must adapt and finds his new place within the unexpected circumstances in Germany. Authors are taking a risk in building an intricate universe where the boy can act as a fighter and not just be another victim. His story, intertwined with the stories of his mother and her lover, provides not only immersing intrigues but also a very interesting portrait of a courageous boy which shows lights and shadows of an addictive love."
The Polish contribution, "Zwyczajny kraj" (Normal Country) by Tomasz Wolski, received the Best Documentary Film award sponsored by "So geht sächsisch" and endowed with 5,000 Euros. The jury, with the three documentary filmmakers Yulia Lokshina (DE), Tomáš Elšík (CZ) and Michal Bielawski (PL) point out in their statement: "In his film Tomasz Wolski invites us to enter a world of the ordinary in a metamorphosis. Carefully recreated from materials recorded by polish secret police, the film helps us to settle in an environment of danger and precaution. Most of the scenes are far from spectacular, they depict daily routines and movements, scraps of telephone conversations, ordinary people on streets, in parks and bars. Some cars are followed, some rooms are searched in order to train next generations of agents. Through the material of “no importance” the director speaks about the most violent aspect of political oppression within an authoritarian regime."
The prize for the best short film goes to the Czech contribution, „Jsme si o smrt blíž“ (We are One Death Closer) by Bára Anna Stejskalová about a small parasite in the cadaver of a dog, and its life/survival on a trash dump. The prize, financed by the Student Council of the University of Applied Sciences Zittau/Görlitz, has been decided upon by the German festival organiser and programmer Anne Gaschütz, the Czech curator Radka Weiserová and the Polish screen play author and director Bartek Kędzierski. In their statement, the jury writes: "Finding a great story is just a first step. After that, as a filmmaker you have to choose the proper language to tell the story to the viewers. And the best language is the most common. The most common, which means - wordless. „Love is just a death away” is something unique. The universal love story, the most common (wordless) language, the old-school stop-motion technology, a cute protagonist, nasty bad-guys, beautiful set design, and… remote-controlled zombies! We love them all!"
Honorable mention in the short film competition goes to "Top Down Memory" by Daniel Theiler.
The Filmverband Sachsen's "Special" prize this year is going to the documentary film "Grenzland" ("Borderland") by Andreas Voigt. The film looks at Jan Müller's life story; born in Georgswalde, today Jirikov, in 1936, he bears witness first-hand to the changes of a region. Voigt visited the German-Polish border in 1991. About 30 years later he travels to the region again, seeking and finding contacts on both sides of the Oder and the Neisse. The topics are work, homeland, and love. His observations look like stories from "the margin" - yet come from the center of Europe. Voigt meets people, their history and their landscape. In the north the Szczecin Lagoon, in the south Lower Silesia - the place where, in the three-country-corner Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic meet.
The Neisse Film Festival has awarded its honarary award to the Czech film director and screenplay author Helena Třeštíková, and with her the first time on a documentary filmmaker.
Because of the shortened program days, this year voting for the audience favorite will continue through the festival Sunday. The audience favorites will be informed after-the-fact and will be sent their Neisse Fish via courier.