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VALLETTA 2019 Awards

Oleg and A Shelter Among the Clouds split the top prize at Valletta

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- Juris Kursietis’ fiction on modern-day slavery and Robert Budina’s solemn drama have won the Best Fiction Feature Award; other winners include Where Man Returns and Deep Cuts

Oleg and A Shelter Among the Clouds split the top prize at Valletta
Director Jayro Bustamante (right) presenting the Best Fiction Feature Award (© Valletta Film Festival)

The fifth Valletta Film Festival came to a close on Saturday night with the awards ceremony held at the stunning open-air Pjazza Teatru Rjal in the centre of the city. The gathering split its top prize, the Best Fiction Feature Award, between two very different films that were taking part in the first-ever Cinema of Small Nations Competition. After a tough three-hour deliberation, the jury, comprising European Film Academy director Marion Döring, filmmakers Peter Sant and Jayro Bustamante, film programmer and distributor Ibee Ndaw, photojournalist and documentarian Jason Florio, and historian and anthropologist Alain Blondy, presented the trophy ex aequo to the Latvian drama Oleg [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Juris Kursietis
film profile
]
by Juris Kursietis and the Albanian romance A Shelter Among the Clouds [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Robert Budina
film profile
]
by Robert Budina.

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Commenting on Oleg, the jury said that the film took them on an “insightful journey into the underworld of a European reality with a uniquely visceral and honest approach, fuelled by outstanding performances and a whirlwind narrative”. They also praised A Shelter Among the Clouds for “its delicate approach to a sensitive subject of our times and the peaceful bringing together of Catholicism and Islam against the cinematographic backdrop of the Albanian mountains”.

The same jury was also tasked with handing out the Best Documentary Award, which went to Norway’s Where Man Returns [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Egil Håskjold Larsen, for “its poetic yet raw use of sound and image that brings us closer to the remote life of a man calling nature his companion”.

Meanwhile, the HSBC Best New Talent Award went to Dubravka Turić, Filip Mojzeš, Filip Peruzović, the three directors of the Croatian flick Deep Cuts [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
. They thus each receive a cash prize of €1,000. The jury stated that the three new and promising voices from Croatia came together “to create a strong visual and decisively cinematic language that employs all the tools of cinema and makes us excited to see what’s coming next”.

The Estonian title Three August Days by Madli Laane, which depicts the political upheaval in Estonia in the 1990s, took home Best Short Film in the Cinema of Small Nations Competition, awarded by an independent jury made up of French film director Marie-Sophie Chambon, Lebanese festival director and film academic Nicolas Khabbaz, and Maltese producer and director Charlie Cauchi.

The jury also gave a Special Mention to Lebanese filmmaker Samir Syriani and his short Contact.

Here is the complete list of award winners:

Cinema of Small Nations Competition

Best Fiction Feature Award (ex aequo)
Oleg [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Juris Kursietis
film profile
]
- Juris Kursietis (Latvia/Belgium/Lithuania/France)
A Shelter Among the Clouds [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Robert Budina
film profile
]
– Robert Budina (Albania/Romania)

Best Documentary Award
Where Man Returns [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Egil Håskjold Larsen (Norway)

HSBC Best New Talent Award
Deep Cuts [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Dubravka Turić, Filip Mojzeš, Filip Peruzović (Croatia)

Best Short Film
Three August Days - Madli Laane (Estonia)
Special Mention
Contact - Samir Syriani (Lebanon)

Audience Award
The Swallows of Kabul [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Zabou Breitman, Eléa Gobbe-…
film profile
]
- Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbe-Mevellec (France/Luxembourg/Switzerland)

Teens Choice Award
Binti [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
- Frederike Migom (Belgium/Netherlands)

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