Once again, the focus of this year's Festroia has subtly shifted, from families to groups. Groups in a single setting: an old, dilapidated building here, a school there.
The hero, as it were, of Lukasz Palkowski's Preserve (Poland, First Works, competition) is a free-lance photographer. Forced to leave his luxurious apartment, he ends up in a boarded-up squat in Praga, allegedly the most dangerous neighborhood in Warsaw (think New York's Alphabet City, SoHo or TriBeCa before gentrification.).
His new landlord asks him to take as many pictures as he may need of both the decrepit building and its squatters. His (not so) secret motive: to gather just enough photographic documentation so he can evict everyone and tear down the building down.
A familiar tale, wouldn't you say, New Yorkers?
But in so doing, the photographer discovers a fascinating world, in which long-gone etiquette, manners and code of honor still matter. A world full of colourful characters, the most vivid of which are an old bum, a voluptuous hairdresser and a mysterious red-haired boy who has an innate gift for photography…
To cut a long story short, the disparate group will become some sort of a family - so fuzzily heart-warming that (caution: spoiler) the landlord will ultimately decide to rehabilitate the building and keep everyone in it.
Definitely a faerie tale, wouldn't you say?
In sharp contrast, Ilmar Raag's The Class (Estonia, in competition) is a nightmare. Joosep, 18, is the perpetual whipping bag of his classmates. When one of them, Kaspar, lets him escape, he, too, become a pariah. Tension mounts between the pair and the rest of the class – until, led by a charismatic bully, the students force the two boys ((reluctant friends at best) into homoerotic acts which they record on their cellphones and immediately post on the Internet. Cut to: the two boys return home, grab firearms owned by Joosep's father (a retired soldier), go back to school and shoot everyone in sight. Shades of Columbine.
Therein lies the problem: despite its qualities, The Class steps into a territory already (brilliantly) marked by Gus van Sant's Elephant. On the plus side, however: the truly intriguing (and original) way Raag observes the reactions of the female students when things start to get out of hand.
And here is a complete list of the Awards winners:
BEST FILM - GOLD DOLPHIN
Empties, by Jan Sverák (Czech Republic/UK/Denmark)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE – SILVER DOLPHIN
The Class, by Ilmar Raag (Estonia)
BEST DIRECTOR – SILVER DOLPHIN
Srdan Golubovic, for The Trap
BEST ACTRESS – SILVER DOLPHIN
Outi Maenpaa and Ria Kataja, for Black Ice
BEST ACTOR – SILVER DOLPHIN
Robert Wieckiewicz, for All Will Be Well
BEST SCRIPT – SILVER DOLPHIN
Amos Kollek, for Restless
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – SILVER DOLPHIN
Oleg Kirichenko for Mermaid
S P E C I A L A W A R D S
Estrellita, by Metod Pevec (Slovenia/Germany)
MAN AND HIS ENVIRONMENT SPECIAL PRIZE
The Replacement Child, by Justin Lerner (U.S.A)
Me, The Other, by Mohsen Melliti (Italy)
PRIZE CITY HALL OF SETÚBAL – AMERICAN INDEPENDENTS
Best Film for Starting Out in the Evening, by Andrew Wagner
FIRST WORKS AWARD
Preserve, by Lukasz Palkowski (Poland)
Family Rules, by Marc Meyer (Germany)
FIPRESCI PRIZE (INTERNATIONAL FILM CRITICS)
Mirush, by Marius Holst (Norway)
Worlds Apart, by Niels Arden Oplev (Denmark)
The Class, by Ilmar Raag (Estonia)
Restless, by Amos Kollek (Israel/Canada/Belgium/France/Germany)
SAPO VÍDEOS AWARD
Blue Dawn, by João Teotónio, Miguel Trindade, Pedro Gaspar (Portugal)
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