European cinema triumphs at the 13th Kustendorf Film & Music Festival
by Ola Salwa
- The Romanian short The Christmas Gift by Bogdan Muresanu has snagged the Golden Egg, while second prize went to Belarus’ The Lake of Happiness by Aliaksei Paluyan
The future of cinema can be glimpsed not through VR helmets or the competitive sections of class-A festivals, but rather at small and modest film events such as the Kustendorf Film & Music Festival, held in a remote village close to the Serbian-Bosnian border. The gathering invites young filmmakers from all over the world, who for all we know could easily turn out to be the next Ruben Ostlund or Bong Joon-Ho.
The winner of the main award, the Golden Egg – The Christmas Gift by Bogdan Muresanu – is already a festival darling: it won top nods at Clermont-Ferrand and Cottbus, snagged an EFA and ended up on this year’s Academy Awards shortlist for Best Live Action Short Film. No wonder it is showered with praise wherever it goes: The Christmas Gift is set on the eve of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s death, and is a smart and skilful portrait of Homo Sovieticus – a breed of person fuelled by paranoia and adept at hiding their true feelings and thoughts in order to survive.
The fall of communism made Europe a better place, but three decades later, the continent faces new challenges. Emir Kusturica, who founded Kustendorf and aims to support and empower the next generation of young filmmakers, addressed this very issue during the closing gala. “We cannot be naive in thinking that one person or one festival can change the world. Cinematography is only one of the reflections of social units that exist around the world. But that is specifically the reason why we should believe in the new utopia,” said the Underground director. “This world has certainly already been changed. We believe that this festival will contribute a little modification to help create a more utopian world.”
Apparently, there are a lot of emerging artists who want to add their voices to the conversation. The programmer of the event, Marko Milosavljevic, told Cineuropa that over 720 short films from over 20 countries were submitted. The competition included 21 titles, mainly from Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Spain, China, Iran, France, Switzerland and Serbia.
The 13th edition of Kustendorf unspooled from 13-18 January 2020.
Here is the complete list of award winners:
The Christmas Gift - Bogdan Muresanu (Romania)
The Lake of Happiness – Aliaksei Paluyan (Belarus)
The Beef – Ingride Santos (Spain)
Hamed Bagheian - The Other (Iran/India)
Havana Cuba - Andrei Hutuleac (Romania)
Award for the Most Poetic Film
Home Far Away – Dimitar Kutmanov (Bulgaria)
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