The Silhouettes (Saayeha) directed by Afsaneh Salari
The Silhouettes (Saayeha) directed by Afsaneh Salari

A total of 33 projects were screened at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (KVIFF) Eastern Promises 2019, the festival’s Industry section, with the exciting mission of being a bridge between talented filmmakers from the East and their potential Western partners, festivals and audiences. The juries announced the winners at the ceremony that closed the festival’s industry program in Little Versailles in Karlovy Vary.

Works in Progress Award

In this years’ Works in Progress, nine projects from countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and North Africa were presented. The jury chose the film PIGEON’S MILK by director EUGEN MARIAN as the winning project.

Jury statement: “Our choice went for a film in which we felt the director created a unique realm filled with a prophetic dimension. With strong cinematic language, this first-time filmmaker offers a visual and harmonious world through a story with resonance, announcing a unique voice from a country we do not see much cinema from.”

Pigeon’s Milk (Moloko Ptitsy)

Countries: Russia, Moldova
Directed by: Eugen Maryan
Scriptwriter: Eugen Maryan
Producer: Roman Borisevich, Alexander Kushaev, Anna Shalashina
Camera: Nikolay Zheludovich
Release date:01/05/2020
Runtime: 80 min

Film synopsis:
Shortly before Easter, in search of a better life, ANDRIAN (16) is planning to escape to Europe with his gypsy friend. He has five days to prepare. The teenage boy has a tough time pondering over the future separation with his MOTHER (36) and his new classmate ANNA (16). Anna makes no secret of the fact that she likes a local thug SERJIU (22), whom Andrian works for. Andrian suspects that his mother is having an affair with Serjiu’s father. He decides to seek revenge against the people who have taken away the two women he loves. He secretly kills their dog, then botches Serjiu’s important deal and becomes closer to Anna. His revenge, however, doesn’t quite go as planned and his escape runs the risk of failing.

Docs in Progress Award

This year saw a strong selection of 8 documentaries from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, North Africa, and the Middle East. The Docs in Progress prize went to the winning project THE SILHOUETTES by Afsaneh Salari, Jewel Maranan and Giles Gardner.

Jury statement: The selection was extremely tight and it took us two hours to decide, as we went through each project thoroughly. The highly current subject of migration is one that we all are familiar with – we discover new angles and uniqueness, while breaking away from an imposed destiny, facing the past in order to continue to the present and on to the future. The ability to talk about your own nation despite the fact that you are making the film in a different country. The director has a clear vision, style and sensibility. She is capable and willing to invite us to a world that we can all understand and feel.

The Silhouettes (Saayeha)

Countries: Iran, Philippines
Directed by: Afsaneh Salari
Scriptwriter: Afsaneh Salari, Jewel Maranan, Giles Gardner
Producer: Afsaneh Salari, Jewel Maranan
Camera: Afsaneh Salari
Music: Shida Shahabi
Release date: 01/12/2019
Runtime: 80 min

Film synopsis:
Taghi, an engineering student in Iran is finishing his studies. At first glance, he’s a young man with a promising future ahead of him. However, he carries the burden of a history that is older than him. When the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1982, Taghi’s parents fled to Iran together with 1.5 million Afghans. Taghi’s parents feel he is lucky not to have experienced war. For Taghi, however, safety is no trade-off for freedom and a bright future, as Afghans in Iran are only allowed manual-labor jobs. Taghi crafts a plan to go and pursue his dream in Afghanistan -the motherland he never knew — while facing strong opposition from his parents. As wars continue in Afghanistan, what future awaits him and in which land?

Works in Development – Feature Launch Award

On this award, KVIFF has partnered with the Midpoint script and project development program as well as When East Meets West co-production market and Trieste Film Festival. Together they showcased eight projects from Central and Eastern Europe that have gone through development within the Feature Launch 2019 program. The jury awarded the 10,000 Euro cash prize for further development to Hungarian project SOME BIRDS by director Daniel Hever, writer Zsanett Kertesz and producer Laszlo Dreissiger.

Jury statement: “For a story about two characters that are trying to find a place in the world creating a special bond which transcends generations.”

Some Birds (Valami Madarak)

Countries: Hungary
Directed by: Dániel Hevér
Producer: László Dreissiger
Release date: 2021

Film synopsis:
Aging, lonesome Béla (78) is moved to a nursing home against his will by his estranged son, where he must spend his days with an impulsive teenage girl Zoé (17), who is sentenced to do social work at the home. They both struggle with their families: Béla wants to prove to his son that he is capable of living independently. Zoé’s fear of becoming like her promiscuous and deeply unhappy mother is so strong that she keeps rejecting the boy she likes. When Béla decides to get out of the home, Zoé embarks on a journey with him through the bureaucracy of the Hungarian health care system to prove that he is self-sufficient. The time they share and the experiences they encounter turns them into allies, enabling them to confide in each other. Although Béla fails to achieve his goal, the trust and warmth they gain from this friendship enables them both to accept reality and find the strength to face their fears.

Eurimages Lab Project Award

From the 8 projects screened this year at the Eurimages Lab Project, the prize in the value of 50,000 Euro went to the winning project BOTTLED SONGS by directors Kevin B. Lee and Chloé Galibert-Laîné. KVIFF is the first of four international film festivals of the festival season to be awarding the Eurimages prize – a prize dedicated to films that surpass traditional film frameworks and language and are based on international cooperation.

Jury statement: “A courageous desktop documentary raising questions of privacy and identity by exploring online propaganda of the Islamic State.”

Bottled Songs (Bottled Songs)

Countries: Germany, France, USA, Finland
Directed by: Kevin B. Lee, Chloé Galibert-Laîné
Scriptwriter: Kevin B Lee, Chloé Galibert-Laîné
Producer: Kevin B Lee, Chloé Galibert-Laîné
Camera: Kevin B Lee, Chloé Galibert-Laîné
Release date: 01/06/2020
Runtime: 100 min

Film synopsis:
Bottled Songs is a desktop documentary exploring the online propaganda of the Islamic State. Through intimate video letters shared directly from their screens, researchers Chloé and Kevin reveal how their initial viewings have left them bewildered about the role of mainstream media in producing everyday states of terror. Further investigation leads them to develop creative methods of coping with extremist media while exploring the complex dynamics of filmmaking, gender and power behind their production and circulation. Through an encounter with a professional research group, they find more methods to withstand the psychic violence of contemporary media and possibilities to produce images to counter the persistent spread of online terrorism.

Nespresso Talents CZ

The topic of this year’s Nespresso Talents – a competition for vertically shot movies by young talents – was “We Are What We Eat”. The jury awarded the prize of 3,000 Euro to Nina Ovsová and Adela Križovenská, the creative duo behind the animated story called “Tell Me Your Flavour”. Second place went to another animated film “Hunger” by Jáchym Bouzek, and also to David Bukva for “We Are What We Eat”.

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