Bulgarian `Blaga`s Lessons` Takes Top Prize in Karlovy Vary

2023-07-08 00:00:00

Bulgarian crime story “Blaga’s Lessons” by Stephan Komandarev scored the top prize and $25,000 at the 57th Karlovy Vary Film Festival that ran from 30 June to 8 July, 2023.

Calling his film a tribute to his parents’ generation, many of whom have become victims of the rough transition to capitalism, Komandarev accepted his Crystal Globe from actor Robin Wright and fest president Jiri Bartoska.

With sold out screenings ranging from Russell Crowe introducing “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” to rare Japanese masterworks by Yasuzo Masumura and a tribute to actor Daniela Kolarova, Czech audiences proved once again to be hungry for every kind of film they cannot experience at any other venue.

The Crystal Globe competition special jury prize, along with $15,000, went to “Empty Nets,” a German-Iranian gritty love story directed by Behrooz Karamizade.

Special jury mention went to a film that got much audience attention, “Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano,” a powerful German-Lebanese doc exploring a devastating Beirut port explosion and its causes rooted in corruption by Cyril Aris.

Best director honors went to Babak Jalali, an Iranian-British director-writer, whose noirish black-and-white feature “Fremont,” co-written with Carolina Cavalli, chronicles the quest of an Afghan refugee fighting for a night’s sleep and possibly love. The film stars real-life Afghan refugee Anaita Wali Zada in a commanding debut performance.

The top actress prize went to Eli Skorcheva for her role in “Blaga’s Lessons,” which also won the ecumenical jury prize, while Herbert Nordrum took the actor prize for his exceptional performance in “The Hypnosis,” a Swedish-Norwegian-French tale of digital startup ambitions gone off the rails.

“The Hypnosis,” directed by Ernst De Geer, also won the Europa Cinemas Label as best European film at the festival, as selected by a jury of three exhibitors from the Europa Cinemas Network.

Audiences voted “The Edge of the Blade,” a French dueling tale with a feminist take by Vincent Perez, their top choice, while the Proxima section jury gave the nod to “Birth,” a South Korean relationship drama by Yoo Ji-young, with the Proxima special jury prize going to Saurav Rai’s India-Nepal entry “Guras,” an enchanting Darjeeling girl-and-her-dog tale.

The two Czech films in the main competition, “We Were Never Modern” and “A Sensitive Person,” each garnered interest, the first for its unique visual style and take on an intersex detective story, the other for its bracing, chaotic road movie ethos.

More than 10,000 visitors packed into Karlovy Vary cinemas this year – a crowd roughly equal to last year’s – to see 185 films, with 36 world premieres at 445 screenings.

The fest’s Eastern Promises section screened a robust collection of works in progress, incorporating training and coaching programs with Feature Launch, First Cut + and other industry development projects, granting prizes to first-time filmmakers and those breaking out work onto the global stage.

The fest film market showcased 27 film projects across three programs to 942 film professionals including buyers, distributors and festival programmers.

57th Karlovy Vary Film Festival Winners

Grand Prix Crystal Globe

“Blaga’s Lessons” (Bulgaria, Germany)

Directed by Stephan Komandarev

Special jury prize

“Empty Nets” (Germany, Iran)

Directed by Behrooz Karamizade

Best director

Babak Jalali, “Fremont” (U.S.)

Best actress

Eli Skorcheva, “Blaga’s Lessons” (Bulgaria, Germany)

Best actor

Herbert Nordrum, “The Hypnosis” (Sweden, Norway, France)

Special jury mention

“Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano” (Germany, Lebanon)

Directed by Cyril Aris

Proxima grand prize

“Birth” (South Korea)

Directed by Yoo Ji-young

Proxima special jury prize

“Guras” (India, Nepal)

Directed by Saurav Rai

Special jury mention

“Brutal Heat” (Czech Republic, Slovakia)

Directed by Albert Hospodarsky

Ecumenical jury grand prize

“Blaga’s Lessons” (Bulgaria, Germany)

Directed by Stephan Komandarev

Ecumenical jury commendation

“Citizen Saint” (Georgia, France, Bulgaria)

Tinatin Kajrishvili


“The Hypnosis” (Sweden, Norway, France)

Directed by Ernst De Geer

FIPRESCI prize, Proxima section

“Imago” (Poland, Netherlands, Czech Republic)

Europa Cinemas Label

“The Hypnosis” (Sweden, Norway, France)

Directed by Ernst De Geer


Source: Variety 


Tags: winners, festival

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